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Small network of perhaps half a dozen engineers, currently working on local copies of AutoCAD project files, which are then copied back up to file server (2008 Standard, 1-2 year old Dell server hardware, RAID 5 SAS disks (10k? not positive)) at end of day.

To me, this sounds horribly inefficient and error-prone, however, I've been told that "AutoCAD and network files = bad idea" and this is gospel.

The network is currently 10/100 (perhaps this is the reason for the "gospel") but all the workstations are within 2 years old and have GbE NICs so an upgrade of the core switch is long overdue. However, I know certain applications don't like network access, at all, and any sign of latency or disruption brings the whole thing crashing down.

Anyone care to chime in?

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No idea how big the files are, but I have a hard time imagining that a single-digit number of engineers could kill your server (or a gigabit network) loading and saving AutoCAD drawings. If they're working from a common file store, you might have to worry about file locking, but other than that, I don't know what the problem would be. – Mike Renfro Jun 27 '11 at 18:55
@Mike: me neither, but as I said, "AutoCAD and network file shares = bad" is apparently the "gospel". Why, I don't know, but this is why I'm asking. :) – gravyface Jun 27 '11 at 19:12
I don't doubt you'd heard that, but do you have references you can point me to? I know I've never thought twice about storing AutoCAD drawings on a share, but my drawings are very simple compared to people doing real work with it. – Mike Renfro Jun 27 '11 at 20:03
up vote 2 down vote accepted

In a previous job we had about a dozen engineers and, at that time, a 100Mb LAN. For all but the most trivial drawings using the files over the network was unacceptable. As we started to upgrade to 1Gb things got a little better but even then working on local copies was far better for medium to large drawings. I don't recall the file sizes but they were mostly detailed engineering drawings of anything from a house to very large public buildings with anything from a dozen detail layers upwards.

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I'm going to suggest a pilot with a couple of engineers/drawings if they don't seem "huge". – gravyface Jun 28 '11 at 14:05

We've never had problems with AutoCAD LT with about a dozen people using it with network files and 100Mbit connections. We've only ever had one person who needed full AutoCAD and they never reported any problems either. That was a long time ago, with only 10 mbps switches. In all cases, these were relatively small files, though.

Looking for info. online, I find things like this link that also indicate there's no problem with a LAN, but WAN might be an issue.

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For more anecdotal evidence, my company has close to 80 people working directly on DWG's with large imagery straight from the server. We're using DFS and in this office it's all accessed through a single Server 2008 R2 virtual machine, on a fully gigabit LAN.

Performance is excellent, and we don't have any complaints from the users about slow access.

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How are you using DFS? – gravyface May 3 '12 at 11:48
We've got 4 primary offices, and a file server in each one. Our head office is the hub of a DFS Replication topology, and our main DFS namespace synchronizes about 1.3TB of data among the offices. CAD staff work directly from the DFS namespace, which auto-resolves to the closest server to them. – Jeff Miles May 3 '12 at 13:25
Ah ok, thought you were using DFS on the workstations syncing to the server. – gravyface May 4 '12 at 15:53

Anecdotal: most places I've worked open DWGs directly from a network share. It generally works quite well. I have had a problem on one network where the save process failed. It was randomly intermittent and we never traced it. If failed somewhere in the process of managing the .BAK file and writing the new file. It wrote a temp file instead. Saving it again worked fine. This was with a Win 2008 server on a busy network from Windows XP. Yes, XP. Yes, I know what year it is. :/ Don't get me started.

Autodesk are quick to decry anything they can't support and your network falls into that category. So does internal error-checking but that's a whole other story.

In short, it has worked fine for me if your network is fast enough. For cross-site sync I use dropbox. That hasn't broken for me yet. YMMV.

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FWIW, some of us still use XP for various reasons, even by choice. – John Gardeniers Jun 6 '12 at 0:15
I think the random file-locking feature has something to do with (particularly on wireless) network re-authentications either failing for a short while or affecting session tracking. I now edit locally and use Free File Sync using two-way sync and with deletion handling set to "versioning" to sync the network drive with my local copy (which is also in DropBox). The only shortfall is that it doesn't lock the network file when I edit it. I can set it to read-only if I want but that's just a convention that can be fragile. – CAD bloke Feb 18 '13 at 1:38
Also seeing these problems in Windows 7. Yes, I am rid of my last XP experience. – CAD bloke Feb 18 '13 at 1:39
See also this forum thread. – CAD bloke Feb 18 '13 at 1:48

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