We've tended in the past towards having departmental folders (Sales, Marketing, etc) on a single share and then adding folders below these ad-hoc as and when they're needed.

It's gotten a bit messy - I've been tasked with creating a 'folder hierarchy'.

Does anybody have any best practices for how to organise a folder structure?

We're running SBS2011 on the current file server.

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    If there's one truth I've found in imposing organization on others it is this: They were born slobs and will die that way before I change them. In response to this I have departmental folders on a share. Under that they create whatever they want. Every month a script "cleans up" the folder by moving everything that hasn't been modified in 6 months to an "old" subfolder. This keeps the department folders from getting completely out of control. – Chris S Feb 24 '14 at 15:23
  • Does your script distinguish between "date accessed" and "date modified"? – jidl Feb 25 '14 at 12:06
  • No as too many things touch "date accessed", it's not an accurate representation of the last time the file was opened. – Chris S Feb 25 '14 at 14:13

Does anybody have any best practices for how to organise a folder structure?


Believe me, you don't want to own the folder hierarchy for any department (except maybe your own). You don't know what their needs are, don't have the knowledge or experience of other departments to make good choices, and don't want to be the company's file janitor.

And if you think they make a mess of it, that's nothing compared to the mess you'll make of things. I know you say you've been tasked with doing this, but the best thing you can do for yourself, is to get untasked from it, quick. This is an example of being set up to fail - no matter how you do it, someone is going to have a problem with it, and complain about or at you because of that.

The best practice is literally "[department head], here's your department share. You're responsible for structure and permission below this level. Set it up however best suits your needs."

  • Great answer, but it doesn't look clear regarding one really big issue. Many organizations I've dealt with can't agree on is if permission this should be at this level and below or below this level. That's a critical decision that needs to come from the folks with C in their titles. – Tim Brigham Feb 24 '14 at 16:00
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    @TimBrigham A detail I leave to someone else wherever possible. Share gives everyone in the department permissions, and if they want different permissions on folders below that, they can set them up themselves. Being the permissions janitor in a complicated folder hierarchy isn't much better than being the file janitor, after all. – HopelessN00b Feb 24 '14 at 16:18

There is no "one size fit all", but I would recommend that people be thought to keep things as closed to the physical universe as possible. When I see a person with 10 folder deep hiearchy, then I know they have no clue what files they have and never find anything.

In "real life", you have:

File Cabinets
  --> Drawers
        --> Folders
            --> Documents

Keep it like that in computer files. No more than 3-4 folders nesting.

Depending on the type of files, categories are either by date or by subject. File names would have yyyy-mm-dd-subjectoffile.ext kind of naming.

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    I've had no luck getting users to adhere to a file naming protocol. I've thought about having a fairly flat structure and then making use of tags to aid in efficient searching- has anybody had any luck with this approach? – jidl Feb 26 '14 at 5:30

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