Library Management Organised vs. Watched

I run a headless NUC (RoonServer) with a MacBook Pro as remote. When I first started with this configuration, I was using Orgainised folders because I download music on my MacBook pro and it was just so convenient to dump files onto the remote to add music. But as I learned more, and collected advice from this forum, it became clear that I’d want to manage my Roon(Server) directory manually. There were just too many problems with imported music getting messed up.

Things have changed. Roon has come out with 1.3. I’ve imported my whole CD collection, and I doubt I’ll buy many more CDs. So I’m wondering whether the thinking has changed on Orgainised versus watched folders.

When I buy new downloads, should I just return to managed versus watched so that I can just dump my downloads in through the remote Roon interface?

Orgainised folders has gone with 1.3.

Interesting–thanks. Is there more information about this somewhere?

Don’t know but it has been signaled in various threads for ages as well as post 1.3 threads. I am sure you can search for them if you want to know more but the general reason was managed folders had the potential to do more harm than good.

As an aside from memory they were “organized” folders not “managed” folders.

did also read that some people had a “small” organized folder where they dropped new tracks to be organized before they move them to their watched folder; I personally did not yet do that (using ROON just for 1 week) but that is something I was plannimg to do

therefore I would appreciate if something like that would reappear in ROON: have the possibility to let ROON otganize a dedicated folder as a temporary staging area and support editing tags before finally moving something to the watched folder

One of the challenges I face when using Roon is keeping my library organized. I’ve got a lot of classical music and jazz, so there are often questions as to the most appropriate organization: Who should I consider to be the artist when setting up the file structure–Horowitz or Brahms (e.g.)? Coltrane or Ellington? And because I’m not always perfectly consistent with naming, I may already have a folder for a certain artist, but I didn’t see it (because it was Brahms, Johannes instead of Johannes Brahms) and created another one. My collection is pretty modest in size; for people with huge collections, this must be a much bigger problem. This is something–maybe the only thing–I miss about iTunes: It’s not perfect, but it does a decent job managing this for you.

On the other hand, I know people who just dump all new albums directly into the Watched-folder root directory, screw the organization. Seems to work fine for them.

I’d love to hear some expert strategies for library management.


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This is still doable in Roon, although it takes a few manual steps:

  1. Have two watched folders, we’ll call them “Main” and “Temp”. All the music lives in Main, Temp is used as a staging area.
  2. When you get new music, put it in Temp.
  3. Use the “Focus” feature to focus on the Temp “Storage Location” by clicking focus -> scroll to the far right -> Inspector -> Storage Location in the bottom right. In either the Track or Album pages
  4. Select all the music in the Temp storage location, and use the Export feature to export to the Main storage location.

This way you Roon can’t inadvertently destroy years of work organizing things, but the workflow of using it to organize new additions to a collection is still possible.

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thx for pointing me to “focus”, seems to be a very powerful function!

never tried organized folders myself, but would have expected that it organizes a bunch of tracks, albums and composers in a way, that afterwards the directory hierarchy, the file names and the MP3-tags are meaningful …

Quite the opposite, which was possibly one of the reasons why they have been consigned to the dustbin of history. And good riddance, say I.

This is a central concept in Roon: don’t use the folder/directory structure for navigating your library, use the metadata features. Below is something I wrote in a separate thread (and others dating back to 2015).

Many of us (and the Roon team) resist the folder concept and this is part of a prevailing trend in the computer industry for managing all kinds of content. You see this in many other systems.

We observed that it is easier to find things in the global internet than on our own computers. In the case of music, a search on Amazon is much easier and quicker than navigating your own folders in Windows. And as search became more widespread, we abandoned folders. For example, mail systems like Outlook have folders but few use them anymore, we use search instead. And for common lookups, we use “smart folders” or bookmarks as a way to pre-package searches.

Some of us also object to having to act as librarians, carefully filing things away in the right folder.

But it isn’t just that folders are inconvenient, they are actively harmful. The main problem is that an item can be in only one folder, and once you put it there it is difficult to find it under a different perspective. I recently downloaded a recording of Beethoven sonatas produced by Audio High, and I might want to put it in a Classical folder, or in a Piano Sonatas folder (which may or may not be a subfolder of Classical, there are avant-garde sonatas), or I may file it under Beethoven or Ludwig van Beethoven or under the artist Robert Silverman, or under MQA, or under Special Downloads or even under Audio High (good to keep track of where I bought it in case the file is lost or damaged and I need to log in and get a fresh copy), or under Recent, or under 2016/November/12. Which is right?

What we need is a “polyarchy” where an item can be classified in multiple ways and looked up equally easily under each. The album sits somewhere on disk, but all those perspectives in the polyarchy are available to you. This is what Roon aims to do. And it largely achieves it, although there are some rough edges that are being sandpapered.

This is why you see resistance to the folder concept. It isn’t just inconvenient, it is harmful.

That said, you need some reasonable directory structure for when you want to copy albums to another device, or similar stuff in the operating system. But this structure is less important (the operating system also supports search!).


Anders, great post. I totally get it, and like it. And then you end with this:

For me the issue is more, if I’m going to be sticking music into my Roon directory, it’s got to go somewhere, in some sort of order–or no order at all.

If I totally embrace the philosophy you’ve stated here, it seems to me, the correct approach would be to do like my friend does and stick all new music in the root directory. Is that what you do? This really is what I was asking: What’s best practices? Or, what do other people do?


that was also the use case behind my question with regard to organized folders: how can I recognize whether a particular album is already part of my library? before using ROON I had eg: and artist always ; okay, genre is already not simple, eg I have "Rock-Jazz-Pop>

was just hoping that ROON would organize my directory hierarchy in the file system in a standardized way to get rid of this annoying job to identify where to copy the album resp. how to check whether the album is already part of my library …

any best practices are appreciated :relaxed:

I have set up dBPoweramp, which I use to rip albums, to create
/Album Artist/Album structure, and HDTracks does the same thing. When I download from other places, the do other stuff, like /Album.

But I don’t worry about it, and don’t fiddle with it, because it doesn’t matter.

In fact, those times I have tried to improve the structure, I usually mess up because I already had a backup with the old structure, so now I have two copies, and when I copy to my portable or my car or my office I get two copies and it’s a mess. So now I leave it alone.

Good judgment comes from experience.
Experience comes from bad judgment.

Hi Anders,

what do you mean by “Album structure”?

In DBPoweramp I use the default (whatever that means):
[IFVALUE]album artist,[album artist],[IFCOMP]Various Artists[][IF!COMP][artist][][][album][track] [artist] - [title]
example: Madonna\Immaculate\05 Madonna - Holiday

br, Frank

Yes, me too.
But previously I have tried various ways of handling multi-disk albums.

I would not just lump all music in one directory as occasionally you need to fix tags etc and you need to find the album.

For me:

\music\album artist\album

That’s all I need. BUT I am meticulous with tagging and having good album art etc. Roon get’s it right most times but sometimes I use my own art or need to fix multi-disc. Getting the tags right when you rip the CD saves a lot of trouble later. It doesn’t need to be more complicated than this with the exception of classical which is not a big part of my library.

The \music\album artist\album works well for me, supplemented by the Roon recommendations for multi-disc albums.

One last comment on this thread: I’d just like to point out that for large libraries, managing a structure like this–with \music\album_artist\album–which is what I’ve always done–isn’t trivial. If Roon has aspirations to move beyond the IT-worker set and out into the homes of regular folks, this isn’t gonna work, unless you expect them to resort to a network of paid Roon management consultants.

1.3 is awesome. Thanks for all the excellent work.