Penn Computing
Computing Menu Computing A-Z
Computing Home Information Systems & Computing Penn
Penn+Box Services - Frequently Asked Questions:

Search the FAQ:

Related links:

General Information

How is Penn+Box like Dropbox?

Like Dropbox, Penn+Box is designed to be a file-sharing service, but unlike Dropbox it has a robust set of tools to facilitate collaboration. In addition to offering more features than Dropbox, the service is protected by a University contract that provides a greater level of security and protection for Penn intellectual property than would a Dropbox click-thru agreement.

Why should you choose Penn+Box over DropBox? While both services offer cloud-hosted file sharing, syncing and storage, in addition Penn+Box offers a robust set of tools and services designed to facilitate collaboration on those shared files. It also provides a set applications that integrate with the software and devices you use every day to allow you to access and edit your documents from just about anywhere.

Most importantly Penn does not currently have an enterprise agreement with DropBox. The click-through agreement that Dropbox offers provides inadequate protections for Penn data and provides no obligations for Dropbox to be a good steward of data. Specifically, you have no recourse if Dropbox exposes or loses your data. It is worth noting that Dropbox has exposed data in the past. Although the risk of this happening is low, the possible impact is high. Using Dropbox for anything other than public data is not considered acceptable by Office of General Counsel, Office of Audit Compliance and Privacy, and the University’s Chief Information Security Officer.

Feature Penn+Box Dropbox
Desktop synchronization Yes Yes
Web access Yes Yes
Platform Support (all major mobile platforms) Yes Yes
PennKey Single Sign On YesN/A
Default Quota 50GB 2GB
Security Reviewed and vetted by
ISC Information Security
Spotty track record
Collaboration Features:
  • Discussion forums
  • Document comments
  • Revision control
  • Document locking
  • Task assignments
  • Integration with Microsoft tool set


Contract protections
  • Confidential data
  • HIPAA data
  • Social Security Number
  • Credit Card data
  • Human subject research data
  • All Other Confidential University Data
  • Public Data

With IRB approval
LSP review


Why do I receive notifications about my logins?

Penn has enabled a security feature called Trusted Access Management that will notify you whenever you access the service from a new computer, browser, or device. The feature cannot be disabled. Contact your LSP if you receive notification that your account has been accessed from an application or location that is not familiar to you.

Can I use my PennKey to connect to Penn+Box and can I use single sign on?

Yes. By default, all active part-time and full-time faculty, staff, and students can use their PennKey credentials to connect.

All Penn+Box accounts for users with account names are capable of using PennKey authentication. Penn+Box accounts may also have a local password for use in emergencies, for third-party applications, or for accounts without names.

Single sign on with PennKey is recommended.

Via the Web

The right side of the Penn+Box web login screen directs users to a single sign on login for Penn:

    • Log in:

  • Part of University of Pennsylvania?

    University of Pennsylvania uses their login credentials to access Box. Continue below to log in on the University of Pennsylvania web site.
  • Continue
  • Click the Continue button. Users should type their PennKey credentials into the Penn WebLogin window that appears. Users with an active Penn WebLogin session will be logged into Penn+Box without needing to retype a PennKey credential.

    Via Penn+Box Sync

    Users can synchronize the contents of files and folders on their desktop or laptop to the Penn+Box service. PennKey authentication from the desktop synchronization clients is enabled.


    In the Box Sync for Mac application preferences, view the Settings screen that requests a user name and password. It says:
     Log into your Penn+Box account or use Single Sign On
    Choose the "use Single Sign On" link and use [pennkey] and your PennKey password.


    In the Box Sync for Windows application preferences, view the Settings tab and click the check box for:
     Use my company's single sign-on credentials
    use [pennkey] and your PennKey password.
    Note The Penn+Box Sync applications will not accept PennKey usernames and passwords in the "regular" login screens. You must select the single sign on option in each application if you wish to use PennKey.

    Via Mobile Devices

    Single sign on logins vary on the mobile device clients.


    In Settings, select "I have an account." The main login settings screen assumes the use of local Penn+Box credentials. Instead, select "More login options" to show the SSO login box. Type your [pennkey] address and press the Continue button. You will be prompted one time with a Penn WebLogin window. Your device will cache a security token so you will not be prompted for a credential again.

    Android 4.1

    In the initial splash screen, select "Log in with SSO". Type your [pennkey] address and press the "Log In" button. A Penn WebLogin window will appear. Authenticate with your PennKey and password and press Continue. Your device will cache a security token so you will not be prompted for credentials again.

    Can I connect to Penn+Box without PennKey?

    Yes, users can elect to set a local password. This may be useful for some third party applications. To do so, log into Penn+Box with your PennKey credential. Then select My Account -> Account Settings -> Create External Password. You can also visit and request a password reset, which will email you a link to set an external password.

    Can I connect to Penn+Box from behind the UPHS firewall?

    The UPHS network is managed separately from PennNet and restricts access to some commercial file storage sites. Users with PennKeys and a legitimate business or academic need for accessing the Penn+Box service can apply for an exception via

    Data on Penn+Box

    What is the maximum file size?

    No single file can exceed 15GB in size.

    What is the maximum number of files that can be synchronized with Penn+Box Sync?

    The maximum number of files that can be synchronized with Penn+Box Sync is 40,000.

    How much storage space do I have for my files?

    Each individual at Penn receives unlimited storage on the Penn+Box service.

    What data has been approved to store at

    ISC Information Security the Office of Audit, Compliance and Privacy have issued the following guidelines about what data is suitable for storing at

    Contact ISC Information Security ( or the Privacy Office ( with questions or concerns.

    How long will an item remain in the trash after I delete it?

    All deleted items will remain in the trash for 30 days. See" for more information.

    When I transfer files and folders, do they use Penn's connection to Internet2?

    Yes, from on campus, file and folder transfers will traverse Penn's Internet2 connection to reach the Penn+Box cloud service.

    To verify, run traceroute to from the computer from which you are performing transfers.


    Data transfer recommendations for Penn+Box users leaving Penn.

    Penn+Box Support recommends that Penn+Box users transfer personal data off of their Penn+Box prior to their end date. Penn faculty and staff should transfer ownership of any professional data to the department chair, senior business administrator, or appropriate designees. The transfer of data after the faculty or staff member's end date will be subject to the Guidance document:

    Disposition of Documents and Data of Faculty and Staff who are Leaving Penn or Have Left Penn.

    Data transfer recommendations for Administrators of Penn+Box users who are leaving, or have left Penn.

    Administrators such as Department Chairs and Senior Business Administrators are to adhere to the following guidelines when managing data transfer of Penn+Box users who are leaving, or have left Penn.

    Disposition of Documents and Data of Faculty and Staff who are Leaving Penn or Have Left Penn.


    What applications are included in the service?

    Not all applications that can access data on Penn+Box are currently authorized to do so. The set of applications that can access data on Penn+Box that are enabled today have been assessed for suitability for Penn's environment by a cross-University team. At any time, this list of available applications may be altered.

    When you first log into Penn+Box at, you can view My Applications to view the current list of available applications.

    Penn's contract with Internet2 includes the following services, which are currently enabled:

    • Box for Android
    • Box for Android Tablet
    • Box for Blackberry
    • Box for Blackberry Playbook
    • Box for Chatter
    • Box for Courier
    • Box for iPad
    • Box for iPhone
    • Box for Office
    • Box for Outlook
    • Box for Touchpad
    • Web Documents

    In addition, these applications are also currently enabled:

    • Box client for WebOS
    • Box Edit
    • Box FTP Server
    • Box in Confluence Wiki
    • Box in JIRA
    • Box for Windows Phone
    • Box SimpleShare
    • Box Sync for Mac
    • Box Sync for Windows
    • Email
    • GoodReader
    • iAnnotate PDF
    • XML Viewer

    Submit a request to consider enabling an additional Box 3rd party application.

    Can I use Penn+Box Sync for Windows or Mac on more than one computer at the same time?

    You can enable sync and be logged in and running the client from multiple computers, though this setting can be restricted by account administrators. By default, accounts are set up with no limitations regarding synching.

    Is there a Penn+Box Sync for Linux?

    At this time, Penn+Box does not have a version of sync available that installs on a Linux operating system. They do not have any plans currently on their roadmap to facilitate desktop sync for Linux. Penn has provided feedback to their sync development team expressing interest in a client for Linux in the future.

    Linux users may find their needs are met with the web client, or via secure FTP or WebDAV connections to the service.

    Does Penn+Box provide any malware protection for uploaded files?

    Today, Penn+Box does not provide any malware protection on the files that are uploaded. There are no immediate plans to do so, but it is something they are considering and will be looking into for the future.

    Penn users should review ISC's support resources on How to Protect Your Computer from Malware.

    Recent Reported Penn+Box Problems

    New Login Page Design upcoming

    Box has releasedd a new login page design in order to improve the login experience. Here's a preview of the new look:

    Your same PennKey credentials will work with the new design and no functionality is changing - just the look and feel. If you have any questions, please contact the Prodesk.

    Box Sync directory changes during upgrade to v4.0

    The default Box Sync directory under version 3.0 is My Box Files. This default folder changes to Box Sync after upgrading to Box Sync v4.0.

    Box documentation on this issue can be found at How do I upgrade from Sync 3 to Sync 4?, including instructions on how to change the default folder name so if you would prefer to have My Box Files as the folder name, you can make this change.