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Box Departmental Folders

This article applies to: Box


Box makes it easy to share folders. It’s quite likely that the folder list that you see in Box is a mixture of your folders and those that other people have shared with you. For personal collaboration, that’s a tremendous benefit. But when those folders contain University information that you need to do your job, it can become a real problem when that person leaves and those folders disappear. It’s good practice to review an employee’s Box folders during their exit process to see if those folders should be transferred to a new owner, but there is a better way.

Just as there are email accounts for departmental use, called Exchange Group Accounts (EGAs), a Box departmental folder is  a Box folder owned by an EGA. You can request a Box departmental folder for any existing EGA or create a new EGA if you don’t have an appropriate one. Here’s how the setup works.

A new Box account is created for the EGA, with a login (which isn’t actually used) of ga.<somename>@cornell.edu, matching the EGA name. A single top-level folder is created for that account, which will have the same name as the display name for the EGA. The owner group for the EGA is made co-owner of that folder, granting access to set up and manage the folder. The EGA mailbox will receive notifications about activity in the folder, which is either stored in the mailbox or forwarded to people in the recipients group, depending on how the EGA is set up. When choosing the suitability of an EGA for this purpose, consider whether the notifications will interfere with any other uses of the EGA for receiving email.

After this folder is set up, people in the owner group can rename the folder if desired, and can share it with others using normal Box sharing. If the owner group is changed in the EGA, those changes will be reflected in the owner group in Box.

When you create folders within a group folder, remember that in Box you can only add people to sub-folders, you cannot remove them. (Box calls this “waterfall permissions”.) You should plan your folder structure accordingly.

For a concrete, if fictitious, example, let’s set things up for the newly-formed Cornell Institute of Wizardry. Ms. Tolidore (mqt5771) sets up an EGA named ga.wizardschool@cornell.edu, and also adds Mr. Timleus (zzt493) as an owner of the EGA. The display name for the EGA is set to “Cornell Institute of Wizardry.” (The display name is the name used when when sending mail, for example, From: “Cornell Institute of Wizardry” <wizardschool@cornell.edu>.) Then Ms Tolidore sends in a request to the IT Service Desk to set up a Box folder for this EGA.

The Box account ga.wizardschool@cornell.edu will be created, and a single folder named “Cornell Institute of Wizardry” will be made at the top level. A Box group named ga.owner.wizardschool will also be created mirroring the Active Directory group of the same name, with members mqt5771 and zzt493. That group will be made co-owner of the folder. The result will be that both Ms. Tolidore and Mr. Timleus will find the new folder listed in their All Files display in Box. With co-ownership rights, both individuals can create sub-folders, invite collaborators, and administer permissions.

Within the top level folder, they first create a folder named Headmasters, and invite the Dean, assistant Deans, and department chairs.  This folder is private to this group of people, so it’s kept at the top level.

The first two departments in the new institute are the Department of High-Energy Magic, and a cross-disciplinary department of Computational Demonology. Ms. Tolidore creates a top-level folder for each of these departments, and grants co-owner rights to these folders to an admin in the respective departments.  These folder admins are then responsible for granting access within these folders as necessary.

Now, when people join or leave the Institute, they are simply added to and removed from the access groups for these folders. If someone creates a folder of material in their personal space, they can simply move it within one of the group folders to share it. That action transfers ownership, so that group turnover doesn’t affect the availability of shared files.

Another very strong benefit of this arrangement is that the shared folders can be arranged under a very few top-level folders. This reduces the number of top-level folders, and avoids the mess that can occur when everyone simply shares individual folders with everyone else.

The following diagram illustrates the view that various parties will see in this setup. 

Box Departmental Structure illustration

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