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Northwestern Box

Northwestern University has partnered with Box to deliver file sharing services to faculty, staff, and students. Northwestern Box provides individual, flexible online space for unlimited file storing or sharing. All Box content can be accessed online from computers or mobile devices.

Why Use Box for Collaboration?

  • Invite colleagues to share and edit: Turn folders into shared online workspaces, invite people to view, edit and upload files, and more.
  • Post comments and assign tasks: Keeps everyone updated by exchanging feedback in one place. Instead of going back and forth in a long email chain, comments maintain conversation history in a single place.
  • Create and share a unique link to any file or folder: Send links to anyone with or without a Box account for view and/or download access.
  • Shared links always point to the most current version: Links do not need to be re-sent after changes are made to files.

Sensitive and Restricted Data

When using internal (sensitive) and legally/contractually restricted data, use SAFER (Sensitive Administrative Files e-Registry).

SAFER is a self-service application that interacts with your Box files and imposes additional restrictions on file sharing. PHI, PII and student records or medical records are all approved for Box SAFER shares, including HIPAA data. (See Box SAFER Shares in the Account Types section on this page.)

Individual schools and departments may provide faculty and employees with specific guidance for file sharing. For a more comprehensive listing of online collaboration options and guidelines, the University community can also visit File Sharing at Northwestern.

Account Types

Individual Accounts are for storing personal and private Northwestern data. While you can share files that are stored here with other Box users, they are stored in your Northwestern Box account. If you leave the University, others will lose access to these files.

If a user has left the University, HR approval is required to change ownership or grant access to their files or folders. For this reason, it is recommended to store shared content in Box Organizational accounts.

Box Organizational Accounts are for storing data that needs to be accessed by a group such as a department or lab, or for data that belongs to a role that transitions between users.

Box SAFER Shares are similar to Group Shares, but for files that require a higher level of security, including internal sensitive data and legally or contractually restricted data. Learn more about SAFER

Box Tools and Applications

Box Website

The Box website provides a full-featured experience, including the ability to view file versions, restore items from the Trash, and search across all of your Box files.

Use of the Box website is recommended for most users, but is more strongly recommended if you need:

  • Access to collaboration/sharing options
  • Real-time co-authoring of Microsoft Office files using Office Online
  • The ability to label or tag files/folders
  • Access to a very large number of files on a regular basis

Box Sync

Box Sync syncs a subset of Box files onto the local hard drive but lacks many of the advanced features of the Box website. It’s useful if you:

  • Prefer working on an offline local copy of your Box files
  • Sync only the subset of files that you access regularly
  • Will not use Box Drive also (not compatible)

Learn more about Box Sync.

Box Drive

Box Drive maps all your Box files to the desktop much like a network drive, but does not require maintaining local, synced copies on the hard drive. Files are streamed to the computer as temporary files until they are saved.

Box Drive can be useful if you:

  • Feel more comfortable working with Box as if it were a network drive
  • Typically work out of a high number of different folders
  • Are always connected to the internet or do not need to work office
  • Will not use Box Sync also (they are not compatible)

Learn more about Box Drive.

Other Box applications

  • Box Edit opens files from the Box website for editing in local applications
  • Box for Office can be used by Windows users to open Box files directly from Office applications
  • The Box Notes  app can be used to edit Box Notes files without logging into the Box website
  • Box offers iOS apps and Android apps for mobile viewing


Available To

Students, faculty, staff

Departments and organizations


There is no cost to use this service.

Request Service

Current faculty, staff, and students with an active NetID are eligible to register for a Northwestern Box storage account.

Organizational accounts may be created as necessary by submitting a Northwestern Box Organizational Request. Departmental NetIDs may not be used to create a Northwestern Box account.

Last Updated: 20 December 2018

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