Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Did you mean: 
Known issues - updated June 21st see more

Multi-layered sharing using Team Folders and Groups

24 Kudos

Multi-layered sharing using Team Folders and Groups

Have you read over our team folder articles and still don’t know how to structure your business?
Is a new employee accessing your entire Dropbox file structure and viewing all your sensitive material?
Did your boss drag a folder inside another and messed up file locations?
Perhaps you need to read this thread!
This isn’t a simple topic, so take your time in reading over this. I’ve done the best I can to make it easy to follow and understandable for all users.
12 Replies

Re: Multi-layered sharing using Team Folders and Groups

Part 1 - What is a team folder and which teams use them?

Knowing what you can do with a team folder, and files and folders within is the most vital step, since some admins might expect different features compared to what it actually does.
Team folders are used mainly for collaboration within a team, and they are optional. You can still manage a team without ever using team folders. 
When you create a team, an automatic team folder is created also. 
The first thing to mention is we’re going to be focusing on Dropbox Business teams (AKA those who have paid for a Business plan), and not Free teams, since the latter doesn’t have the features from the former. 
If there is anything you need to know about team folders from this thread, read the following two bullet points:
  • Once someone has been granted access, you cannot hide’ subfolders from them
  • If they can edit files, you cannot allow them to only view files’ in subfolders.
Therefore, in my opinion, only the highest level employees (or IT admins) should have full edit access to the entire team folder. Lower level users and new employees need lower degrees of permissions.

Re: Multi-layered sharing using Team Folders and Groups

Part 2 - The first hurdle, adding all members


For smaller teams, a group will be automatically added to the team folder, always starting with ‘Everyone at [your team name]’. As it sounds, this includes all existing members, and if any new users join your team they will automatically be added to this group without your input.


This is helpful to share the basic info for the company’s employees.


You can also restrict edit access. Click the gear icon, and change ‘Can edit’ to ‘Can view’. Now, all employees can only view and download the files, without ever making any changes to files or folders.


Re: Multi-layered sharing using Team Folders and Groups

Part 3 - But I don’t want everyone to see everything!


Of course you don’t! That’s where the confusion begins.


If Part 2 doesn’t apply to you, then obviously you don’t want all users on the top level to see all folders.


Since the ‘Everyone at…’ group is the only group that cannot be deleted (given that Dropbox created it and is a special group), don’t add it to the team folder. If it is already added, click the Can edit/view button on the right and then ‘Remove’.

I recommend the team admin have full edit access to the team folder (and not necessarily the CEO of the company), since they can resolve most issues online.


Since team folders only allow groups, and not individual users, you can create a group with just one user, the Team Admin. Giving them edit rights is also applied after the group is created.


If you did create the team folder in Part 2, you can also add this new group to the team folder. Thus only the admin can edit all levels of that structure, whilst everyone else can just view.


Re: Multi-layered sharing using Team Folders and Groups

Part 4 - Departmentalization (aka creating subfolders)


Depending on the size of your company, this will vary wildly, but I’ll try to summarize it.


If the team folder was for the entire company, the subfolders would be for the various departments in said company. So, you can immediately break up the company into subfolders like ‘Finance’, ‘HR’, ‘Marketing’, ‘Engineering’, and any other folder you deem necessary.


For these folders, you will need groups for (almost) each folder, this time for senior management, such as Head of HR, Engineering, et al.

image (1).png

For smaller teams, users can look after two departments (i.e. Finance and HR Head), so some folders can have the same group.


Grant the groups either edit or view only rights to that folder as you see fit. The same group can even be given different rights to different folders (see the Finance and HR group in my example).

image (2).png image (3).png
image (4).png image (5).png

Re: Multi-layered sharing using Team Folders and Groups

Part 5 - Micromanagement


From the first two ‘layers’ (team folder and then the Department folders), the number of levels you have afterwards depends on your requirements.


For example, for the Finance folder, you can have the following subfolders: Payslips, Actuary, Pensions, Budget, Invoices, Receipts.


Since the head of Finance can already see these folders, now you need to create new groups for other users who need to access them. Accountants, Administration, Invoicing, anything is possible.


These folders will contain regularly updated files, so these groups would need Edit rights to them.


Again, be wary of granting the newest accountant access to payslips if that isn’t their level of access in the company. Perhaps they would be entitled to view a subfolder in payslips where they need to calculate taxation, social security contributions. For this another group would be needed.


You can also place users into more than one group, if they need access to multiple sections. without having access to the ‘parent’ folder.


Re: Multi-layered sharing using Team Folders and Groups

Part 6 - Don’t give yourself extra work


For all this talk about assigning groups, it does require constant management if there are a lot of users joining, transferred or leaving your Dropbox Business account (or company).


The initial setup should be done by the Team Admin, however if you’re on an Advanced or Enterprise Business plan, the User Management admin can continue this from then on.


There’s also the problem where you create too many groups that it becomes hard to remember which member is in which group. Start with a few groups and only expand if truly necessary.


Start at the top of your structure and begin the group creation. The closer to the team folder itself, the fewer the number of users, and vice-versa. Generally, there are more employees the further down the ladder you go, with larger groups.


Re: Multi-layered sharing using Team Folders and Groups

Part 7 - Final recommendations


Firstly, remember the main aspects of team folders.

  • Once you open access to a team or shared folder, you cannot close (or hide) subfolders or files from users

  • Give a user edit rights to a folder, they cannot then have those rights taken away for subfolders.

Secondly, plan out your entire structure without any users added to the team folder.


Name your folders as you wish them to appear in your colleagues’ Dropbox accounts. Correct any mistakes now, it will cause issues doing it later for all users in your company.


You can name the folders with numbers at the front to force an order (1 - Training, 2 - Engineering, 3 - Accounts Billable, 4 - HR, etc). This can also be done for groups and files.


image (6).png  image (7).png


Once your structure is complete, you can start to copy files into the folders as needed, assuming you already have all the files. If not, you can leave it to the users to populate the folders.


Here’s what the whole structure would look like on a Mac for one specific file:


image (8).png


Here’s the file structure for the Taxes2017 doc as the way the file is nested in the Dropbox system:


image (9).png


Using the same diagram, you can also see the group names associated with each folder:


image (10).png


As you can see, the Admin can see all the way down to the Taxes2017 Excel file, along with the Finance and HR - Head, Accountants, and New Hires groups.


However, Marketing cannot see the file, nor can Administration. Note that Administration CAN see the Social Security folder since they were given access.


This is the whole raison d'être for team folders and groups, gradually adding access to more groups until your entire company can view only what they are permitted to view.


Hopefully this should help you get to grips with using Team Folders!

Level 3

Re: Multi-layered sharing using Team Folders and Groups

Is everything in this thread going to be applicable to us when we renew our DfB Standard account in 2018?
Level 3

Re: Multi-layered sharing using Team Folders and Groups

Can a Group have Edit privileges to a sub-folder when they only have View privileges to the parent folder? In your example, FH has View privileges to the Finance folder. Could they also have Edit privileges to just the Budget subfolder?

Dropbox Community Super User Program

Super Users are some of the most active, knowledgeable and dedicated people