Best Practices - Creating Your Folder Structure



Get Training

Folder Structure for Your Enterprise

At Box, we understand that every organization has unique requirements that influence the way they structure and operate their business. The needs of your organization will likely affect the way you set up and manage your Box account-- and more specifically, how you define the folder taxonomy that is deployed to your managed users.

Box folders are the foundation from which your users work. Defining a folder taxonomy that is intuitive and easy to navigate will greatly increase user adoption and maximize productivity.

To help you determine the folder structure that best meets your organization’s needs, we’ve put together some evaluation criteria and best practices that have helped bring success to other Box customers.

What is the best folder structure for your team?

As you transition into Box, it is important to ensure that poor practices and inefficient workflows from previous content management systems are not repeated. Understanding Box’s folder permissions and collaboration features will help your team get the most out of Box.

Questions to help you evaluate:

  • Do your admins and co-admins need full control of the users and content?
  • Will the admin team determine which department, region, or groups will use Box?
  • Can you clearly define your company's need for Box? This includes: large file transfer, data room, internal/external collaboration, etc.
  • Does your organization prefer to give users the ability to create their own top level collaboration and private folders? Or does your organization prefer to own all root level folders?

Folder Structure Basics: 

Generally speaking, there are two basic folder structures to choose from: open folder taxonomy or closed folder taxonomy. The model you choose is largely based on your internal security protocols and workflows. We’ll get into the details of each structure as we go.

Open Folder Taxonomy: Users can create their own root folders. By default, a user can provision collaborators and freely share files from the folders they own. This option requires less involvement from your administrators.

Closed Folder Taxonomy: Admins will create and own all root level folders. This option requires planning and heavy involvement from the administrative team. Users will not be able to create root level folders or private folders, and will need to be provisioned access to folders by admins.

Admin Tip: Folder storage only counts against the user who owns the top-level folder (not the collaborators). Be sure to provide the right users with enough storage to meet their needs.

Creating Closed Folder Taxonomy relies on the Business or Enterprise Setting found via the Admin Console > Settings > Content & Sharing > Restrict Content Creation.

Building an Open Folder Structure:

The Open folder structure is ideal for users who need to create and manage individual workspaces on demand, and is often deployed by organizations that don’t require strict IT oversight or handle highly-sensitive information.

For example, sales professionals use Box to establish private folders (or workspaces) where they can collaborate with prospects by sharing sales collateral, or negotiating contracts in a secure virtual deal room. Similarly, project managers often need to share and collaborate with those in remote offices and with external third parties by creating folders as needed. This ensures that information is organized and easily accessible by all.

When creating new users within the admin console, the administrator needs to specify each user’s storage allowance. Note that storage space only counts against the owner of the top-level folder, and not against any collaborators within the folder. Once an account is created for the user (Admin Console > Users > Add new user) the user can create new root level folders and can also create private workspaces. Because the folder storage counts against the owner’s storage allocation, providing users with a high amount of storage is advised.

Note: Unless invited by the user, the administrator will not be able to see any folders they do not own. Enterprise Admins do have the ability to instant log into a Managed User's account to see their entire directory, including personal folders.

Building a Closed Folder Taxonomy:

Choosing this option, indicates the administrative team wants control of the users and their content. This is a specific use case that will require heavy provisioning by the administrative team such as—folder setup, new user creation and assignment groups and/or folders. The following are different use cases to consider:

Departmental Directories

This is a common folder structure for larger, enterprise accounts. In most instances, Box is replacing or phasing out another content management system (i.e. SharePoint). The administrative team will create a specific folder structure on the main account page.

This is the root level of the directory. After the root folders are created, sub-level directories can be added. Once done, users can then be assigned access at the appropriate level. For example, Sales Territory is a root level directory and the territories are sub-level directories.

The end user will only see and have access to folders beginning at the level which they were granted access—in this case, it would be a root level folder.

Private Workspaces for Users

Private workspaces are mostly provided in an Open Collaboration use case. This means users have the option to create a folder for collaboration or for personal purposes. The manila folder icon denotes a private workspace, which means no one has been invited to this folder.

Data Room

The data room use case is structured so that collaboration can involve both managed and external users; however, the identity of the users must not be disclosed. For that reason, commenting, shared links, and discussions all need to be turned off. These settings can be found in the Advanced Folder Properties in the account page and are optional depending on your use case.

Data Room security settings can be found in the Folder Properties > Advanced Properties.


Something to consider: Do you want to disclose the identities of everyone collaborating in the folder; or will there be competing parties that your firm does not want disclosed?

Staged Taxonomy:

This folder structure is a combination of both the structured and open-folder taxonomy. During the initial deployment administrators restrict content creation at root (via the Enterprise Settings) and then create the main folder structure (i.e. departmental directories). During this initial phase, users can get acclimated to Box and learn the tools necessary for a successful adoption. After a set period of time, administrators can then un-check the content creation at root restriction and allow open folder creation, thus moving on to the open-folder taxonomy.

This structure works best if the administrators do not require much control over the users and their content, but want to ensure adoption by their users.

Additional Security and Settings

For any folder structure your organization moves forward with, there are security settings that the administrative team can enable account-wide. These settings can be found via the Admin Console > Settings > Content & Sharing or Admin Console > Settings > Security.

These include controlling the types and lifespan of both shared links and collaborators. These Enterprise Settings will apply to all folders owned by any managed users.

Depending on your Enterprise Admin team's review and decision, these settings can be applied and revoked at any time. For more information about these other setting you can visit some other articles here:


Was this article helpful?
16 out of 24 found this helpful