UT Box Sync

If you are a Windows or Mac user who is a heavy user of UT Box, and if you are only using it via the web interface, then you are probably not being as productive as you could be.

There are various tools to make using UT Box more productive on your Windows or Mac desktop and laptop machines1.  Today, we will discuss one of these tools: Box Sync2.

Box Sync allows you to mirror some (or all) of your data stored on UT Box to your desktop's or laptop's hard drive3. You can then navigate and modify content stored on the UT Box website through your computer’s native file browsing interface without using a web browser, even when not connected to the network!  If you make changes to the synced files locally, these changes automatically sync back up to your Box account (when the network is available)4.

You can download Box Sync from https://www.box.com/resources/downloads.

Installation is like any standard installation for your OS (for Macs, drag the DMG file to your Applications folder and double-click the "Box Sync" icon; and for Windows, run the downloaded EXE file and follow the installation instructions). Once installed, the files in your root UT Box folder, and any others you select, will be stored in a new folder called "Box Sync" by default5, which can be accessed like any other folder on your machine.

We recommend that you don't sync all your files and folders, as it may take up too much space on your hard drive, use a lot of network bandwidth, and slow down the sync operations. It's best to sync only the folder or folders you're currently, or frequently, working on6.

Folders (other than your root folder) don't sync down by default when you install Box Sync. You'll need to choose which folders you want to sync7. (See Box's Subfolder Sync page for instructions.) Also, there will be some delay for the initial sync after a folder is marked as a Sync Folder. The delay will depend on the number of files in the folder, the size of the files, the number of collaborators,  your available network speed; and the speed of your local machine. A folder containing many thousands of files could take hours or longer to sync. When performing the initial sync for lots of files, we recommend leaving the desktop or laptop on overnight. This will require the user to be logged in, although the computer should be locked to prevent others from using it.

When you delete a folder from Box Sync, that folder will no longer sync to your computer,  but it will still exist in the UT Box web interface.

The Box Sync FAQ page from Box support has more detailed information on using Box Sync.

As always, if you have additional questions or need help with UT Box or Box Sync, please don't hesitate to contact the help desk at https://cns.utexas.edu/help (UT EID login required).

Written by CNS OIT staff
Questions or comments? The best and easiest way to contact us is via the CNS Help Desk form.


1 Box Sync is also available for mobile devices, but here we only cover the desktop use. It is not available for Linux.

2 Box Sync will soon be replaced by Box Drive.  However, Box Drive is still in Beta, so at this time we still recommend Box Sync for most users.

3 If you are storing confidential data (FERPA or HIPPA data for example) in your Box account, you should only sync to machines which have the proper security controls in place (hard drive encryption, login controls, etc).

4 Files or folders which are synced will show with a blue check mark next to them.

5 The first time you login to Box Sync after installing it, or the first time you login as a different user, you have the option of changing your folder settings for that user.  This option is not available again after the first login.

6 Some file types are ignored or blocked by Box Sync.  These are typically system files, temporary files, metadata files, hidden files, and some file names which contain special characters.

7 By default, Box Sync only syncs your root folder on UT Box.  You can select additional folders to sync by logging into the UT Box web application and for each folder your want to sync select the "More Options" button, then "More Actions", then select "Sync".

See also: Box, Software