How to setup Dropbox sharing

How should I setup Dropbox? 

We hear this question often. Cloud computing services like Dropbox bring many benefits, but they can often require a rethinking and redesign of how we work. The Dropbox team has been hard at work improving Dropbox for Users and Administrators. 

Replacing the file share

Anyone asking "how should I setup Dropbox?" has ownership of the environment. Often without really asking for the job ;) And in this setup, we're usually looking for business (or department) wide sharing. 

Important Concepts


You've got to use Groups. Groups really come first. Groups are often overlooked, even in relatively large organizations. Thinking through and setting up Groups takes a bit of time, but the ROI is exponential. 

Per Dropbox,  Group Key points:

  • Groups let you share folders with an entire group, instantly.
  • You can specify whether a group should have edit access or view-only access.
  • Groups are great for onboarding new team members. Just add them to the group, and they'll be automatically added to all shared folders for that group.

Groups are required for Team Folders...

Team Folders 

Team Folders allow Dropbox Administrators the ability to create Organization or Department wide sharing. As Dropbox explains

Employees want a single, convenient place to work together, one that’s accessible by internal and external collaborators alike. IT needs visibility and control over how company information is shared, ensuring that the right people have the right access to content. The new team folder delivers on both, centralizing file collaboration and providing the security businesses need.

Sharing is ADDITIVE

Sharing in Team Folders is 'additive'.

Here we see the Team Folder 'Financial'. The VP_Finance Group has access. This Group will have access to ALL folders and files inside this Team Folder. Always. 

The Folder 'Budgets' is also shared with the Finance Group. The VP_Finance Group already has access by default. Any content added to this 'Budgets' folder and all subfolders will be shared with the Finance Group. Always. 


What if we want to share the '2007 Budgets' with a 3rd party auditor? No problem, we can add (additive sharing) permissions. However, we could not remove the sharing to the Finance Group since it is included on the top level 'Budgets' folder. We can see below where Sally and Bob have been added, just like our auditor example. 


Example of team folder and shared subfolder structure.


Smart Sync

All this sharing with Team Folders is great ... unless your hard drive blows up because there are 500,000 PDF files uploaded to the Financials Team Folder after an audit. Enter Smart Sync. Smart Sync allows a User to see all the folders and files in Dropbox without actually downloading them to the User's hard drive until the moment they're needed. 

By default, new folders and files will have Smart Sync's 'Online-only' setting applied. The content will be viewable but not actually downloaded until it's needed. 

Users can easily move content to the local hard drive or online.

The setup

Team Folders can have different permissions depending on the use case. 

1. Configure your Groups. For larger organizations, you might consider synchronizing Groups with Active Directory. 

2. Determine your Team Folders. Ideally Administration of Team Folders can be shared with the specific Group or Department that will be leveraging the service. Sharing Settings can be configured for internal only or internal and external. 

3. Educate Users about Smart Sync and other options like Selective Sync. Empower Super Users to administer Team Folders. Educate Users about company-wide sharing, team sharing, and personal content. 

By effectively leveraging Groups and Team Folders, you'll have a Dropbox setup that is not only easy to manage but that is also scalable. 

Please consider Umzuzu as your Dropbox Partner

We've been working with Dropbox Business since day 1. We know all the ins and outs. We can ensure a successful migration of your files, processes, and personnel to Dropbox. Your subscriptions cost exactly the same and it never hurts to have someone with a vested interest in your success.