Managing your Documents: Sharing & Collaborating

Take advantage of services that help you share documents securely. 

 This page is part of a series intended to help you work productively in a variety of situations.


Shared folders on SAS file servers

Ask your LSP to help you setup shared folders on the SAS file servers.  Advantages include

  • Members of a department or workgroup can have access to the same set of files; you no longer have to worry about people working from outdated versions of shared documents. 
  • SAS file servers include features that can help you recover files that were accidentally deleted, or roll back to previous versions. 
  • Files in shared folders are accessible from off-campus through or


Penn's Secure Share

Secure Share service is more secure than sending files as email attachments. 

  • Data is protected by encryption when uploaded, downloaded, and while stored on Secure Share
  • Secure Share includes protections to help make sure you only send your document to your intended recipients


Penn's Secure Space

Secure Space is a web-based service that enables faculty and staff  to securely share files with colleagues at Penn and other institutions. It offers a secure, Penn-based alternative to "cloud"-based commercial options such as DropBox.

  • A faculty or staff member can define a virtual storage space for documents, and then control access to the space and customize what other users see (e.g., banner message, email link).
  • A project milestone chart can be maintained and prominently displayed in the space.
  • Users can store files, "lock" files to ensure that others don't work on them simultaneously, and "watch" file activity.
  • Files are encrypted and all data are held at Penn.
  • Both free and paid spaces are available: free spaces can be set up quickly and will meet the needs of many teams, while paid spaces offer additional features.



You can request a Canvas site to help facilitate projects with complex requirements for collaboration. 

  • Canvas sites can include file storage, discussion boards, wikis,  email utilities, and other features for efficient collaboration
  • Contact to request a Canvas site


Comment, markup, and security features in Office & Acrobat

Adobe Acrobat and Microsoft Office products (Word, Excel, and Powerpoint) include extensive features for review, collaboration and version management. 

  • These features let you capture your comments and revisions within the documents.  They reduce the need to keep multiple versions of documents and provide a consolidated record of comments.
  • Track changes and comments are popular features in Word
  • Adobe Acrobat includes extensive features targeted to workgroups


Collaborating with people outside of Penn

Most secure systems at Penn require users to log in with a PennKey.  When you need to work with collaborators from other institutions, it's sometimes possible to have a PennKey created for them so they can log in to Canvas or other systems. 


Cloud services

There are many services provided by commercial companies that let you share and collaborate through the internet ("the cloud" is often used as a metaphor for the internet).  Some services are free (e.g. Google Docs,; others have fees (e.g., Moxy, Jungle Disk). DropBox is a very popular choice.

With these services you are entrusting your information to a commercial provider, and are subject their terms for privacy and security.  Many of these terms are in fine print and contain agreements you wouldn't expect.

SAS recommends against using cloud services for sharing  documents which contain confidential information or important University data.  Reasons include:

  • SAS file servers provide a more secure alternative when sharing among SAS faculty and staff
  • Privacy terms may not be consistent with federal laws protecting the confidentiality of student records
  • If you forget the password for a cloud service, your LSP won't be able to help you retrieve your files
  • Your work documents become inaccessible to your supervisor or colleagues should you become incapacitated


Web Conferencing

It's now possible to hold effective meetings entirely online.  SAS Computing and others at Penn have evaluated several web conferencing systems and recommend GoToMeeting or Adobe Connect Professional.

  • Online meetings include risks for accidental disclosure of information; they are not recommended for communicating confidential or sensitive information
  • Contact for more information about how to choose and use web conferencing services appropriately.


Sharing & collaborating can require:

  • exchanging and commenting on documents
  • managing revisions
  • secure exchange of sensitive information
  • online meetings