Powerful software tools like SolidWorks, create amazingly complex files that are detailed and accurate to many decimal places. So it goes without saying that the management of this data presents a challenge when it comes to optimizing performance while still maintaining some sort of process to centrally manage the hours of data created each day.
Implementing clean data storage and backup practices are obviously top priority in most companies, but WHERE the data is stored is FAR from being the best place for the data to be accessed.
“Oh Network, How do I love thee….”
If you’ve been lucky like we have at DASI Solutions, you’ve had the recent opportunity to revamp your ENTIRE network architecture with a move to a much larger new building.
**SHOUT OUT to Eric Endlich of DASI Solutions for the FANTASTIC network he created in our new downtown Pontiac office!
OK, so I’m guessing most of you are not that lucky… so let’s talk about what a great deal of SolidWorks users are doing every single day.
WORKING OVER THE NETWORK!
To fully understand the “BOLD, Red, All CAPS, Larger Font with an “!”” above, you need to know exactly what’s happening each and every time you open each and every file across the network.
When a file is opened across the network, it takes a whole series of ‘hops’ to get to your screen… about 8 in all!
I’ve created a couple dynamic infographics to describe the process.
File OPEN Across the Network
The ‘Request for File’ begins on the local machine that moves through the various communications devices where it reaches the server. The data is loaded into server RAM where it is then prepared for transfer back to the local machine.
During the trip – data is broken up into ‘packets’ to send. The packets are approximately 20% larger in overhead because each packet contains information to re-assemble the data at the destination (local) machine.
Since the files only reside in the RAM of the local machine, each time a user clicks SAVE or Rebuild, the process takes place for each and every file open on the local machine. With large assemblies or drawings of assemblies, this means for EVERY part and assembly that is referenced too! Yikes!
“There’s No Place like Home!”
Have you ever noticed that when you copy your files to your local hard drive, they Open, Save and Rebuild shockingly faster?!
Well if this was your answer, please verify that you didn’t just copy the ‘Assembly’ local while all the parts it references aren’t still on the network.
Go to FILE > FIND REFERENCES and make sure all of the files are being referenced from the local machine drive. 99% of the time, many of the parts and sub-assemblies are still being opened over the network.
Now that you’ve used ‘Pack and Go’ to copy a test assembly to your local machine, now try.
SEE WHAT I MEAN!?
That’s because files that reside on the local machine only take 2 ‘hops’, IF you can even call them that!
File OPEN from Local Hard Drive
- It doesn’t have to chop the files up into packets and then put them all back together.
- It doesn’t worry about who else if accessing files from the server at the same time.
- It doesn’t care if someone on the other side of the building sent a print job to the server.
“What’s a Company to do?”
First, some disclaimers:
- The information above is fact.
- This article was NOT written as a sales pitch!
The facts are that working local IS much faster than working across even the best networks. It is a simple matter of steps in the process, and all things being equal, there are simply fewer steps when working local.
This says nothing to the recent and absolutely unbelievable speed increases you can get from installing a Solid State Hard Drive as your primary drive in the local computer. Do this and I promise you will NEVER go back to traditional hard drives!!!!!!!!!!! (Not enough Exclamation Marks in the world for this.)
But… “How do I backup the data properly when it is being used locally?”
Well, the only way to do this effectively is to use a tool like SolidWorks Enterprise PDM.
Again, this is not a sales pitch, but the facts are that SolidWorks EPDM is designed to specifically deal with this situation.
Using SolidWorks EPDM:
- Files are stored on the network in a vault.
- When users open files from the vault, they are seamlessly copied to the local machine where all file saves and rebuilds are also performed locally.
- When users check-in files, only the changes are copied back to the vault on the server where version history is retained.
- The server vault data is backed up using normal IT backup procedures.
As you can see, there is a clear benefit to working locally vs. working on the files live over the network.
You paid a lot of money for that workstation… don’t you think you should actually be using it?! 🙂
Darin Grosser is a SolidWorks Elite Application Engineer, Certified SolidWorks Expert and a senior member of the technical staff at DASI Solutions, a SolidWorks Value Added Reseller with locations throughout Michigan and Indiana. He is a regular contributor to the DASI Solutions Blog.