Permissions in SharePoint libraries (2013 version)

=REPT(“Use the Search, Luke”,100500) 

Typical scenario: your users demand stricter security in document libraries and your admins don’t want to remember/maintain individual ACLs on files because it’s error-prone, performance-heavy (if one is using object model or CAML against it) and in general perceived to be problematic.

At some point someone steps in and offers folders as a solution – because now one can set security on them instead. But is it a solution?

Is the problem here with potential performance or with admins no longer knowing which permission is where? Former is solved with switching to search as a primary mechanism to deliver data and latter is not solved with anything but brute force 

With sharing feature in SharePoint 2013, each individual file gets ACL’d anyway and folder approach below, however great it may be from performance perspective, only makes matters worse from discoverability perspective (folders on Windows share -> folders in SharePoint libraries). Sooner or later, users revolt and stop creating folders or folders no longer map to storage ideas. With metadata navigation available in libraries, we invite users not to worry about folders anymore. With search in library we invite people to create common space just concentrating on proper metadata management in files and letting SharePoint take care the rest.

2013 now offers much better search crawl experience and can be extremely granular with a lot of settings exposed on SC level (instead of farm as before). My suggestion would be to look closely at what it can do in this scenario instead of sweeping the problem under proverbial folder rug.

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