If you search online for opinions on folders vs tags, you will get a fairly unbalanced view. Many people are of the viewpoint that tags are the way to go when it comes to storing and filing your digital content. But there are some who still fly the flag for folders.

Read on for the differences between folders and tags and discover why one comes out on top.

How do folders work?

A folder is a space on your computer that is used to store digital content. Documents, images, videos, spreadsheets – any type of file can be separated and stored in a folder. Subfolders can be created by making another folder inside the original one to store more detailed information.

If all your files were in the same place, each of them would need a separate file name. But folders enable you to have more than one file with the same name. They can also store shortcuts to programs.

Folders can be found on your hard drive, and you can search through all of your computer's files and folders using a file manager, such as Windows Explorer for Microsoft users.

What exactly are tags?

Tags are keywords that you use to search for files on your network. A file can have an unlimited number of tags attached to it, so when searching, you don’t have to remember a particular phrase or word. For example, if you were looking for a spreadsheet file, your tags could be ‘invoice,’ ‘finances,’ ‘wages,’ etc.

You can also make tags relating to the status of your files, helping you identify what emails, documents or files are ‘ready,’ ‘completed,’ ‘pending,’ ‘high-priority,’ etc.

So which is best?


  • Able to organise files by topic, date, location, type, etc.
  • Familiar to most users
  • Used on shared drives for collaborative working
  • User friendly
  • Duplication of files can cause confusion and take longer to find
  • Constantly increasing content that could become hard to manage
  • Everyone has a different way of organising which can lead to conflict or limited productivity


  • Multiple keywords can be used to link with one particular file or folder
  • Unlike folders, no hierarchy is used, allowing a more logical train of thought in tagging files and folders
  • Tags allow information to be found easily and effectively
  • Very little ongoing maintenance needed
  • More flexible way of organising content
  • Unlimited nature of tags can be distracting and make you forget which tags you’ve already used
  • Constantly increasing content that could become hard to manage
  • No pre-defined options, so misspelled tags can be created

When it comes to deciding which is best, there is an argument for a combined approach to categorising your content – by using folders to generally classify your files and then adding tags to find what you’re looking for quickly and easily.

However, it has to be noted that tags are the most straightforward way to add searchability to files without having to browse through folders.

How iBase can help

iBase has everything you need to organise your digital content. Our expert team are on hand to advise you on our feature-rich software that can save you time and improve the way you work. Want to find out more? Arrange a free one-to-one demo by contacting our team.

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