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Document libraries verses folders

If I want to separate my documents out based on subject, is it better to have one Documents library with multiple folders each representing a subject or have a separate document library for each subject? What are the pros and cons or is there a link that gives a good rule of thumb for when to do either? Also, if I split it all out into separate libraries and I need further separation between docs within each library, is it better to use folders or metadata? I know that each of these questions depend upon what our situation is and there is a 5000 doc limit for any library queries, but I'm looking for rules that say what to do in what situation.
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BobHavertyComh
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BobHavertyComh
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Justin SmithSr. System EngineerCommented:
It all depends but I'd say one library using metadata.  You then modify your view to group by the "subject" field.  Or create a view for each subject.  Microsoft pushes to get out of the habit of using folders and get into the habit of using metadata and views.

Libraries are a security boundary, so if you would need unique permissions on a group of files it's best to move them to a separate library (rather than giving the individual files unique permissions).  

Might be a good idea to use an additional library when you want to perform some type of workflow action when items are added or modified.  Now granted you can run different workflows based on metadata in the same library, but I'm just throwing this out there.

You'd may want to use an additional library if you have unique versioning requirements for a set of documents.
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Rainer JeschorCommented:
Hi,
as alsways and as already mentioned it depends. I am not really a fan of metadata (only) driven navigation / view, because in nearly all situations you have to consider security boundries. And as long as neither views nor metadata support security permissions I rather use folders than a whole lot bunch of distinct libraries (as folders are also a permission container!). Metadata is a must (and often ignored / not considered) but I still do not rely on it for structuring documents. And as soon as you access the library from Windows Explorer it gets complicated.
Another point to consider how the metadata is managed / maintained / administrated.
Different document libraries could/should be used if you are keen on using different templates and content types (easier to maintain).
Just my 2ct
Rainer
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BobHavertyComhAuthor Commented:
Hi Achilles, thanks for your response. Just one question. Can't someone put unique permissions on a folder? I know you can't separate workflows by folder.
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BobHavertyComhAuthor Commented:
I think between both answers, it pretty much covers the factors that I have to consider. Thanks guys.
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