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Frustrating Dropbox (for Business) sub-folder (non)permissions

New member | Level 1
New member | Level 1

Best way to work with Dropbox's Permissions?
I've read a few threads about folder permissions, have watched the best practice video and have called support, but I simply can't get my head around how to organize our relatively small enterprise account's file structure. Maybe someone here can help.
If I use Dropbox's best practice and setup several root folders (for, say, project types or regions), users cannot actually see the structure unless a whole tree is shared with them. Suppose we setup two folders, North and South, and we have some sub-folders like "North/Data" and "North/Contracts". In a normal file system, if I share "North/Data" with a user, that user will see North in his root and "Data" as a subfolder. With Dropbox, she will see "Data" in her root! She will have "Data" in her root twice if we also shared "South/Data" with her. There seems to be NO way to show the user the context. For this simple example, it wouldn't be a big deal to name the data folder "NorthData" or similar, but when there are many levels of folders this could be very confusing.
Second, suppose I want a user to have access to an entire tree EXCEPT a folder. Continuing the above example, suppose I need to share "North" with a colleague, except for, say, "North/Contracts". Is that really impossible with dropbox? Or have I missed something?
I thought I might be able to give limited (say upload only) permissions to a folder, then give less restrictive permissions to a subfolder, but that isn't possible either. I also cannot give read only permissions to a folder then, say, editor permissions to a subfolder. This seems like a natural and typical scenario.
This all makes replicating an existing *Nix or Windows filesystem almost impossible--Dropbox isn't flexible enough to replicate the permissions structure. That makes moving our data to dropbox near impossible.
Please consider this simple example of our folder structure requirements. We have an "Administration" folder where we keep track of different office Admin stuff (so we could have sub-folders for our New York and Hong Kong offices, for example). It naturally makes sense to structure our folder as follows:
1. Administration a. New York i. legal documents a. entity formation documents b. lease information ii. employees a. compensation b. bios iii. IT/infrastructure b. Hong Kong etc. etc.
Let's say our COO needs access to everything. His assistant also needs access to most documents, but the assistant should not be able to see employee compensation or lease information. Under our current situation, we would have to restructure the entirely intuitive folder structure just to get around the assistant's viewing privileges. Also, let's say the COO never used to have an assistant and now has the need for one. If the folders are already set up, it would be an enormous task to figure out how to selectively change the structure so that the assistant can't view certain private information, without compromising the existing intuitive structure that the COO (and the whole organization) has been using for some time.
In order to stay competitive, I would urge Dropbox to seriously consider what so many of its users are asking for.
I don't unterstand this when even Googkle Drive and Egnyte support subfolder permissions perfectly.

3 Replies 3
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Re: Frustrating Dropbox (for Business) sub-folder (non)permissions

New member | Level 2
New member | Level 2

I totally agree with this. If you share a specific sub folder the recipient should see the root folder but non of the other sub folders (this would be the same for many nested folders). This way the users sees the structure and the relative departments. 

Highlighted

Re: Frustrating Dropbox (for Business) sub-folder (non)permissions

Helpful | Level 6

100% agree here.  The limitations of subfolder sharing are wild!  In the dropbox promotional video for shared folders they say we don't allow subfolder sharing within a shared folder cause "trust us -- it can get confusing" --

 

It's OK -- Let me get confused.  I'll be alright.

 

Give us shared subfolders AND as a seperate issue when a folder is UNSHARED it needs to automatically become an UNshared folder -- it currently does not.  The solution for making a shared folder unshared is not to remove all the shared users because it won't revert back to an unshared folder.  You have to COPY all files to a NEW FOLDER?!?!?!!?!?  Seems really odd.

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Re: Frustrating Dropbox (for Business) sub-folder (non)permissions

New member | Level 2
New member | Level 2

100% agree.  without this the feature is unusable.

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