ARCHIVED: Share and collaborate on files with Box

This content has been archived, and is no longer maintained by Indiana University. Information here may no longer be accurate, and links may no longer be available or reliable.

On this page:



IU's Box cloud storage service was retired on May 10, 2021. For information about cloud storage options available at IU, see Storage at IU.

IU Box provides a simple, secure way to share and store files and folders online. When using Box, additional settings are available to enhance the security when sharing and collaborating on files and folders.

Private folders

New folders in Box are private by default. Private folders can be identified by the yellow folder icon in Box. Once you invite collaborators, it is no longer a private folder, and the folder icon will change (see Folders with collaborators). Any files stored in a private folder are only accessible by you unless you choose to share an individual file or subfolder (see Shared links). For information on how to create folders, see Create New Files And Folders.

Compare shared links and collaboration

To share files in your IU Box account, you can either share a link, or invite someone to be a collaborator on a file or a folder.

Collaboration is intended for longer-term projects requiring that the other person be able to continually access the files. When you want help revising a document, inviting someone as a collaborator allows you to revise just one version of a given file, rather than creating multiple versions that you must reconcile later. Shared links, on the other hand, are intended for a quick, one-off need to share a file. For a comparison of features, see below:

Feature Shared links Collaboration
User needs a Box account No Yes
Available to people outside IU
Yes, depending on the item settings
Can be used to share either individual files or folders
Yes Yes
Access/permission levels Three access levels Seven permission levels
Read-only permission All access levels
With Previewer permission level
Users can edit, upload, and/or delete files
If given appropriate permission level
Can password-protect anonymous access
Option available when access set to People with the link
No anonymous access; requires Box login
Box at Indiana University is not appropriate for storing or sharing most types of institutional data classified as Critical. However, with ARCHIVED: certain additional security measures you may be able to use IU Box with some data that contain protected health information (PHI) regulated by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). For more, see ARCHIVED: Types of data appropriate for IU Box accounts.

Shared links allow you to give others the ability to view and/or download an individual file or folder of files.

You can generate a link to share either individual files or folders. If you want to share more than one file with certain people, it's best to put them in a folder first, and share a link to the folder.

The following settings are available for shared links:

  • Access Type: Shared links have the following three access levels. You can change the access level of a shared link at any time without changing the link.
    • People with the link: Allows anyone with the link to access the file or folder. This access level does not require a login, so there will be no name to indicate who views or downloads the files.
    • People in your company: Limits access to people with an IU login
    • People in this folder/People in this file: Limits access to invited collaborators for the file or its containing folder, if there are any. This is the default access setting for all shared links.
  • Password Protect: If you have set the access level to People with the link, you can choose to set a password for the link as an additional security measure.
  • Link Expiration: If you only need to provide access to the content for a limited time, you can set a date for the link to automatically deactivate.
  • Allow Download: By default, shared links allow people to download what you have been given access to. By unchecking this setting, you can limit people to previewing the content.

UITS recommends the following best practices for shared links in Box:

  • Unless there is a strong need to customize, use the default URL generated by Box (with a random numeric string) for your shared link, rather than using the Custom URL feature.

    Customized Box shared links (those beginning with that are set to open access (People with the link) and are not password protected are vulnerable to being guessed by computer algorithms.

  • Regardless of whether it is a default or custom shared link, if you share any data that should not be public and need to set the access level to People with the link, set a password on your link.
  • Whenever you create a shared link of any kind, consider how long the link will be necessary. If you can determine a time limit, set an expiration date to minimize future concerns about data exposure.

For information on how to access and set these controls, see:

For the optional Custom URL setting (which allows you to name a link so it is quickly identifiable), be aware that custom links must be unique in the entire IU Box space.


Folders with collaborators

Folders in Box that have people added as collaborators are represented by a blue folder icon when owned by someone within IU and by a gray folder icon when owned by someone outside of IU. Such folders are intended for ongoing collaboration with other users.

Maximum file size and account quota (where applicable) depend on who owns a given folder. For example, IU accounts have a file size limit of 15 GB and an unlimited quota, but free Box accounts have a file size limit of 250 MB and a limited quota. Files stored in the folder count toward the overall quota of the folder owner only, not toward collaborators' quotas, but if you collaborate on a folder owned by someone outside IU, that person's account limits will apply to the folder.

About inviting collaborators

For instructions for working with collaborators, see:


When collaborating with others at IU, be sure to use each person's primary IU email address. If you use a different address, the recipient will not be able to log in and access what you sent.

When collaborating with people outside IU, UITS recommends that your collaborators create their Box accounts before you invite them to a folder or file. You can then use the email addresses they used when creating their accounts to invite them to collaborate.

Permission levels

When inviting collaborators to a folder, consider what you want the collaborator to be able to do with the content in the folder. The default permission level is Editor, which may give people more privileges with the content than you want them to have. It is best to add collaborators at the lowest level that still allows them to do the work they need to do with those files. For a breakdown of the permission levels, see Understanding Collaborator Permission Levels.

Box uses waterfall permissions, that is, permissions that flow downhill and can only expand at lower levels, meaning that collaborators will have the same permission level in subfolders as they do in the top folder. You can assign a given collaborator to a role with more permissions in folders deeper in your folder hierarchy. To do so, first invite the collaborator to the subfolder at the higher permission level. Then invite the collaborator higher in the folder structure at the more restrictive permission level. This will allow your collaborator to have different permissions at different levels of the folder structure.

Enhance security on folders with collaborators

Folders also have the following settings that can be used to enhance security on folders with collaborators.

The following are not sufficient to protect certain types of sensitive institutional data. If you work with regulated data such as protected health information (PHI), see ARCHIVED: Protect sensitive data in Box.
  • Invitation Restrictions: By default, Editor and above can invite collaborators to a folder, anyone with a Box account can be invited as a collaborator, and the names of collaborators are displayed to one another. The following controls allow you to modify these defaults:
    • Allowing only folder owners and co-owners to send collaboration invites
    • Restricting collaboration to users with an IU login
    • Hiding collaborators' names from one another
  • Shared Link Access: This control allows you to limit all shared links generated for the folder or on files and folders within the folder to the People in this folder access level. This control prevents non-collaborators from being able to access shared links to the folder.
  • Watermarking: This control allows you to watermark all files within the folder. For more on the benefits of watermarking content as an additional security control, see Watermarking Files.

For more on these folder settings and how to set them, see Understanding Box Folder Settings.

This is document bbvd in the Knowledge Base.
Last modified on 2021-02-26 10:56:18.