Recommendations for managing large lists in SharePoint 2010

I have a [Customer Code] list which lists every customer, their address and bank codes.
The list has grown beyond the 5000 (LTH) and users cannot now open it.

As it is not recommended to override he List Threshold Setting of 5000. How would the experts manage this list so that customer records can be quickly found/viewed/edited and new records can be added.
(I was thinking folders A-H, I-P, Q-Z although I prefer to avoid folders in SharePoint as it defeats the meta data capabilities).

At the moment it is just one link on the Quick Launch to the whole Customer Code page (in Data Sheet View).

Note: The whole list will still need to be exported to Excel occasionally, which as the Administrator I can still do (well, until the list reaches 20000!).

Thanks for your time
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Jamie McAllister MVPConnect With a Mentor SharePoint ConsultantCommented:
I would index the main columns and create filtered views segmenting the content. How this works us that the first filter in the view needs to be based on an indexed column and be enough to reduce the number of returned values below the threshold.

So for example I might index Company Name then create a series of views like "Customers A-C" filtered on CustomerName Begins With A OR CustomerName Begins With B OR CustomerName Begins With C.

Default view would be filtered e.g. records edited in last 30 days (index Modified Date) so that users accessing the list can add content as necessary without getting freaked out by a Threshold message for just accessing the list.

Finally consider working on a search experience if that would help users. i.e. scopes or custom result pages that lay out the content in a helpful way, and encourage users to locate records that way.
NELMOAuthor Commented:
Thanks Jamie.
as a stop gap I created folders in the way you describe views, but I think views would be a much tidier solution.
Jamie McAllister MVPSharePoint ConsultantCommented:
Users often struggle to work with folders - not finding items or putting them in the wrong place.

When you define your views you'll see that they can ignore folders (view settings page). This can be a good way to slice through the folder structure and use indexed filters instead.

But yes I'd tend to recommend Views over folders. I tend to only use folders to segment permissions. e.g. sub content that only a group of people should see; I'd rather set unique permissions on a container than an item. For threshold it's views or partition the content across libraries in some cases.
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