As a new member of the SmartFile team, one of my first tasks was to create a SmartFile account and start exploring its features. Given my role as a Sales Representative, I want to be familiar with our features and have the ability to navigate the user interface.

As a new user, I found the interface to be extremely intuitive and user-friendly.  The process of generating folders, uploading documents and creating users was particularly streamlined and can be done in minimal steps.   My next thought was to create a basic scenario that touches on the granular permissions functionality that SmartFile provides.  This was the first process within the interface that slowed me down a bit. Most users of the SmartFile application have no problem setting up complex access and permission scenarios, but just in case you do, here was my initial experience and how I subsequently learned how to set up my desired user’s scenario.

Initial Attempt to Set Up Access

The scenario I had in mind was this:

A user has full rights to a particular folder, but only be able to see a certain file within another folder.

Permissions and access rights must be set for a user to establish this situation.  Being a new user to the system, I initially had a bit of difficulty distinguishing between the two.

Here’s a view of the folders I had set up through my administrator view:

Note: I wanted to give a user full rights to the ‘Internal Docs’ Folder and only one file within the ‘Customers folder’
Note: I wanted to give a user full rights to the ‘Internal Docs’ Folder and only one file within the ‘Customers folder’

In order to set up this particular scenario, I had to edit the user I had created. I then went to ‘Access’ in order to change the user’s rights in the system. My instinct was to checkmark the folders and files I wanted to grant access to, and leave off the files that I did not want the user to see.

Note: My intention was to give the user full access to all folders and files except the ‘default-logo’ file in the ‘Customers’ folder (this was incorrect)
Note: My intention was to give the user full access to all folders and files except the ‘default-logo’ file in the ‘Customers’ folder (this was incorrect)

I then logged in with my user I was giving these access rights to, and there were no folders or files appearing.

Note: As you can see, once I logged in with the user there were no folders or files
Note: As you can see, once I logged in with the user there were no folders or files

How I Set Up (correct) Access with SmartFile

At this point I reached out to a coworker in an attempt to learn how setting access rights works in SmartFile.  The differences between ‘Permissions’ and ‘Access’ in SmartFile may confuse some users. 

Let’s take a look at what distinguishes these two:

  • Permissions allow the granting of Upload (Write), Download (Read), Delete and Show Contents capabilities to users at their “Home Directory” root folder.  These permission settings will cascade down to all folders and subfolders within the directory.
  • Access is an extension of the user’s initial ‘Home Directory’ designation.  Modifying a user’s access can allow for “exceptions” to be set at a folder/file level within the respective user’s “Home Directory” root folder.

Now let’s take a look at how the access was correctly granted:

Note: I had to checkbox the file name and also highlight the row to adjust the permissions I wanted to grant for the file.  Without highlighting the row and just placing a checkbox, it will remove that file/folder from the user’s view (assigning NULL permissions)
Note: I had to checkbox the file name and also highlight the row to adjust the permissions I wanted to grant for the file. Without highlighting the row and just placing a checkbox, it will remove that file/folder from the user’s view (assigning NULL permissions)

Here’s a view showing the removal of access to the ‘default-logo’ file:

Note: As you can see, the Permissions section is blank to remove access to the file
Note: As you can see, the Permissions section is blank to remove access to the file

I then signed in with the user I had modified the access for, and you can see that the scenario I wanted appeared.

Note: Both folders appear in the user’s view
Note: Both folders appear in the user’s view

‘Customers’  folder view:

Note: Within the ‘Customers’ folder, only one documented appeared that the user was granted access to
Note: Within the ‘Customers’ folder, only one documented appeared that the user was granted access to

‘Internal Docs’ folder:

Note: Within the ‘Internal Docs’ folder, both documents appeared that the user was granted access to
Note: Within the ‘Internal Docs’ folder, both documents appeared that the user was granted access to

A key takeaway is to understand that once a user is created in SmartFile, and their ‘Home Directory’ is set up, the access rights and permissions that are granted will cascade down to all folders and files within that directory.  Modifying Access (and Access Permissions) will allow a user’s views and functionality in the system to be modified.  You want to focus on what file(s)/folder(s) access you want to alter.

Feel free to reach out to us anytime if you have questions or need assistance walking through Access or Permissions!

If you’re ready to take the next step in learning about complex permissions, I highly recommend reading this: FTP/File Sharing with Complex File Permissions

And if you need a higher level explanation of groups, users, access, and permissions, read this: Permissions vs. Access vs. Groups

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About Darryl Stevenson

Sales Representative at SmartFile.

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