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Best Practices for Secure Online Storage at UMass Amherst

Securely setting up your account

After creating your Secure Online Storage at UMass Amherst account, be sure to set it up securely.

Navigating in Box

Use these features to navigate through your account:
  • Folder tree: Clicking the arrow to the right of All Files on the upper left opens a clickable folder tree.
  • Search: Use the search bar at the top of your screen to search folder and file names, as well as the text of most common files types.
    • Filter: You can filter search returns to further refine your results by using the filtering options to the right. Choose the appropriate filters from the drop-down boxes, and then select Filter Results.
    • Bookmark: To save a search, copy the web address of the search, and then navigate to the folder in Box where you would like to save the search. Once there, from the New drop-down list, select New Bookmark. Paste the address in the "Address of page/content" field. Enter a name and description if you wish, and click Okay.
  • Recently updated: Click the world icon on the top toolbar for a list of recently updated files. Filter your display by clicking on the highlighted term next to "Recent updates" on the upper left and making a selection.

Uploading content

Click Upload on the upper left to upload a file to the folder you are currently in.
  • Select Upload Files to upload a relatively small number of files.
  • Select Upload Folders to upload one or more folders, or a large number of files. (Java is required for this option.)
Note: To upload a new version of a file, click the arrow to the right of the file and click Upload New Version.

The maximum file size for uploading an individual file is 15 GB.

Note: You should not upload more than one file larger than 5 GB at a time. When uploading a file larger than 5 GB:

A business-class Internet connection with upload and download speeds of 50 Mbps is required; a 10 GB file will take around 30 minutes to upload.
Internet Explorer 10 has a limit of 4 GB per file. For IE 9, 8, or 7, if the Flash plug-in is installed, the file size limit is 2 GB. These limits do not apply if you are using the Upload Folders option.

Naming folders

Since you may end up with many collaboration folders, establishing a naming convention with your collaborators will help differentiate and organize your folders. For example, you might prefix the folder name with the name of the submitting organization:

  • For a class, use the class code, e.g., "A511 Jones Case Assignment", "A511 Midterm Prep".
  • For work, use a departmental or group abbreviation, e.g., "CHEM Committee Assignments", "CHEM Lab Schedules".

Box Sync

Box Sync is not enabled by default on Secure Online Storage at UMass Amherst. To learn why, and to request it for your account go to About Box Sync.

Managing content

Make use of Box's features for managing content:

  • File locking: While working on a file in a collaborative space on Box, lock the file so that collaborators cannot download or edit it, thereby preventing out-of-date files or conflicting versions.

    • Click the down arrow to the right of a file, and select Lock File. You also have the option to lock files when opening them via Box Edit.

    • You can choose whether collaborators can download a locked file. If you wish, set an expiration time for the file to automatically become    unlocked, which can be helpful in cases where you forget to unlock the file when you are finished with it.

    • After you have set your lock preferences, clicking Continue will lock the file. A padlock icon will appear to the left of locked files.

    • To unlock a file, click the down arrow to the right of the locked file and select Unlock File.

  • Version control: Often, several versions of collaborative files will be created; all are saved and accessible through Box's version control.

To view or recover a previous file version:

  • If viewing a list of files in a folder, click the V followed by a version number (e.g., V4) under the file name.

  • If previewing a file, hover over the file name in the upper left corner and click the row with the V followed by the version number.

  • The file's version history will display, and you can download previous versions or replace the current version with a previous one.

  • Saving bookmarks: If someone sends you a link to a Box file (or any URL), you can save that URL as a bookmark within your Box account; this can be a handy way to add links to useful external resources related to a particular folder.
  • To save a bookmark, copy the web address, and then navigate to the folder in Box where you wish to save the bookmark. Once there, from the New... drop-down list at the top of the screen, select New Bookmark. Paste the address in the "Address of page/content" field, and enter a name and description if you wish. Select Okay.

  • Tagging content: To make it easier to sort or filter your Box content, assign tags to your files and folders. Your tags are visible to collaborators on the files and folders.

    • To assign tags, select the down arrow to the right of a file or folder, and click Add/Edit Tags.

    • Assign a new tag, or choose an existing one. Filter by specific tags by clicking the tag icon in the toolbar (to the left of the "Sort by" link), and a list of your tags will appear. Make your selections and click Apply.


You can edit Microsoft Office files directly and securely within the Box browser interface. For more, see How do I edit files in Secure Online Storage at UMass Amherst securely?


When you delete a file in your account, you have 30 days to restore it from your Trash.

To restore a file, click Trash on the right. Click the down arrow to the right of the file you wish to restore, and select Restore. This restores the file to its original location in your account. In collaboration situations, a deleted file goes to both the trash of the person who deleted it and the trash of the owner of the collaboration folder. Either can recover it. For more see Managing files and folders in Secure Online Storage at UMass Amherst

About university data

Be sure to use your Box account appropriately; see What types of data are appropriate for my Secure Online Storage at UMass Amherst account?
To ensure that university data stays with the university as positions change, it is recommended that departments use Role accounts.

Collaborating and sharing files

Box is a powerful collaboration platform, and has many features to simplify sharing and working with others. You can share files using two distinct methods, inviting collaborators and sharing links. For details, see Sharing files on Box. The following are some additional tips for using the collaboration option.

Accepting collaboration invites

You may not wish to be part of every collaboration to which you are invited, and you can make accepting such invites a conscious decision. To revise this setting, click the gear icon in the screen's upper right and select Account Settings. From the Content & Sharing tab, in the "Collaborating on Content" section, uncheck Automatically accept incoming collaboration invitations. You will receive collaboration invites by email, and can choose which to accept. Pending invites will also appear at the top of your main Box page.

Managing collaboration

When creating and accepting collaborations, it is important to consider how long the collaboration will last and how long you will need access to the files. If you are the owner of the collaboration folder, have a plan for if and when the collaboration will end and how you will inform your collaborators of that. Collaborations may end when you choose to end them, or when you leave the university and your Secure Online Storage at UMass Amherst account is disabled.

For departmental collaborations that involve university data, it is recommended that the use of Role accounts be the choice. By managing departmental collaboration within a role account, university data will stay within the department even as positions within the department change.

Using Box Notes

Box Notes is Box's online, collaborative word processor; it replaces Box's Webdoc service. Features of Box Notes include:
  • Real-time collaboration: Up to 20 collaborators can edit a Box Note at the same time. When this happens, all updates are seen by other collaborators on the Box Note in real time.
  • Text editing: Box Notes offers some lightweight text editing features, such as text size, color, emphasis (bold, italic, or underline), alignment, and bulleted or numbered lists.
  • Annotations: Annotate sections of text in a Box Note by highlighting the text and clicking the speech bubble icon that appears. After clicking the icon, type your annotation and click Add Annotation. The annotated text will be highlighted in yellow. To view it, either hover over the annotated text with your mouse, or place your cursor within the annotated text. There can be multiple annotations on a single string of selected text.
  • Hyperlinks: Add hyperlinks to text in a Box Note by highlighting the text and clicking the chain link icon that appears. After clicking the icon, enter the hyperlink and click Enter. A collaborator can click the linked text to be taken to the appropriate webpage.
  • Shared links: Generate a link to the Box Note by clicking the Share button in the upper right-hand corner of the Box Note screen. If you wish to change the access level of the link, you must do that in the folder that contains the Box Note.
For more info see Box Notes: Overview
For current issues with Box Notes, see Known Issues with Secure Online Storage at UMass Amherst provided by Box.

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