Folders vs Metadata

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metadata vs folder

What type of document management should you go for, a folders structure or metadata libraries? This question is an endless debate, but it ends today because we will show you why metadata is the definite winner of this battle 😉.

Static structure

static folder structure

Your business grows and evolves throughout the years. Unfortunately, folder structures do not really grow or evolve with your organization because they are very hard to change. 

Dynamic structure


Metadata is very adaptable and changeable. At any given point you can add metadata or change libraries, without employees losing touch with the structure of the documentation.

Subjective buildup

subjective folder buildup

A folder structure is built based on intuition. The problem is that everyone’s reasoning is different and thus, not everyone thinks the chosen folder structure is the best option. This can lead to people adding sub-folders or deleting sub-folders which will eventually become a sprawl of unorganized folders. 

Objective buildup


Metadata, on the other hand, is set up based on factual and objective data such as ‘Document Name’, ‘Type’, ‘Author’, ‘Project’ or ‘Date’. Your documentation system via metadata will always be logical for all employees.



Sub-folders are primarily intended to create structure in folders, but after a few years you often see, there are so many sub-folders added that the whole structure becomes confusing and chaotic.

And that is how files get lost or misplaced because employees forget in which (sub-)folder they stored the document.

One big pile


Instead of dividing files over folders and sub-folders, you can throw all files onto one big pile by using metadata. This means users do not have to worry about misplacing or losing documents because it is practically impossible. You can rely on the metadata to retrieve your documents in no time.

Basic filter options


Folders do not provide many filter options. You can filter a folder, but the sub-folders are not included in the filtering which limits the possibilities.

Advanced filter options

advanced metadata filter options

Since you store all documents onto big piles you can filter all documents at the same time, without being limited by hiding documents in sub-folders. 

Want to optimize your Sharepoint environment? We would love to give you some advice. 

See how easy it is to use metadata in sharepoint during an online demo of Ishtar.Online 

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