UW-Madison Box - Folder Structure and Permissions

This document provides an in-depth explanation of how collaborator permissions are inherited in Box. This information applies to both shared personal folders and project directories.

Granting access to collaborators can become complicated due to how permissions are inherited within a single folder directory in Box. For this reason, understanding how permissions are inherited is critical to creating an effective folder structure and ensuring that collaborators have appropriate access to your shared files and folders.

In this article, we will review basic terminology when describing folder directories, provide textual and illustrated examples of permissions inheritance within a folder directory, and offer advice on how to structure and name folders when provisioning access to collaborators.

Folder Structure and Terminology

Before we can discuss permissions in Box, it is necessary to understand the terms commonly used to describe folder structures. In this section, we will define four important terms that will be used throughout the rest of the article: directory, root level, parent, and child.

When you log into Box to view your files and folders, you are initially viewing only your highest level folders, i.e., those that exist at the root level.

  • Tip: A good way to remember the meaning of a root level in a folder structure is to imagine your folder structure as an inverted tree. The root of the tree is at the top, and each level of sub-folders branches off from the root.

Folders are often referred to as directories, with the two terms being interchangeable. When a folder contains one or more sub-folders, the first folder is said to be the parent of its sub-folders. These sub-folders in turn are referred to as children of the parent folder. Many times, a folder will be both a parent and child, that is, it is contained within a parent folder and is a parent to its own child folders.

Pictured below is a very basic folder structure, which consists of a single folder (A) at the root level, which is a parent to two additional child folders (B and C):

A diagram that shows a tree like structure with "Folder A" at the top and "Folder B" and "Folder C" as its children

In the example above, only folder A would be visible from the "All files and folders" view in Box. Only once you clicked on folder A to view its contents would you see both folders B and C.

Permissions Inheritance

In Box, any collaborator permissions that are set on a parent folder are automatically inherited by all child folders. If these child folders are also parents to another level of child folders, these permissions will be passed down to that folder level; this will continue for the entire folder directory.

This inheritance is illustrated below. The folder structure shown is identical to the one above; the only difference is that the folders below are identified as collaboration folders rather than personal folders. In this example, "Alex" was given Uploader access to folder A. Because folder A is also parent to folders B and C, Alex also inherited Uploader access to these two folders. In contrast, "Billy" and "Chris" were granted individual access to folders B and C, respectively. In this instance, neither Billy nor Chris would be aware of the existence of folder A, so when viewing all files and folders within their Box accounts, they would see either folder B or C as the root level collaboration folder.

  • Note: In all the examples that will follow, names written in bold indicate the folder to which access was originally designated, and un-bolded names signify access that was inherited from a parent folder.

Diagram showing a tree structure with "Folder A" at the top and Alex as its owner, then "Folder B" as the left child indicating that Billy and Alex have access and "Folder C" as the right child indicating that Chris and Alex have access.

For more information see: Understanding Folder Permissions

Keywordsbox.com box.net dropbox uwmadison accounts sharing shared collaborators files folders access rights privileges inheriting inheritance structures project group directories directory   Doc ID37955
OwnerAdmin B.GroupBox
Created2014-02-25 16:50:22Updated2023-12-22 12:25:38
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