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#68139 by Nathan179
Tue Feb 02, 2016 2:09 pm

Our office has been using Datacad within Windows 7 virtual machines hosted on Imacs using VMWare Fusion for about 5 years. Until recently we had a mac mini server on which all of our project files would reside and could be accessed from both the windows side and the mac side. This has served us well, but now due to changing office dynamics we are attempting to use cloud computing for our file serving needs. We have chosen to use Dropbox for Business to fill this roll and so far it has worked well. The difficulty has been that having to sync both the windows side and the mac side takes up large amounts of bandwidth and hard drive space. To mitigate this we have been using Dropbox's selective sync feature on the windows side to keep file syncing to a minimum. Unfortunately this takes too much management and becomes an annoyance when you have to sync a folder just to pull a detail from an old project.

To simplify all of this we wanted to have Dropbox reside only on the host mac and share the entire thing through Fusion's folder sharing feature. We have also mapped the Dropbox folder location to a drive letter so that all xrefs would not become orphaned when opened from another computer. This looked like it would work, after we did some test saves from the windows side in various programs like word, sketchup and images from the internet. Unfortunately when we opened a project file in Datacad it would open fine but when saved we would get an alert "Unable to save drawing due to insufficient disc space." After much testing it appears to be a file depth issue despite the fact that we are nowhere near the maximum character limit for a file name. A typical file string is B:\Project\4 WA Drawings\4-1 Dcad\File.aec. Even if the project name is 20 characters (typically more like 15) and the file name is 10 characters (typically closer to 6) we are still only at 52 characters. Our understanding was that the limit was 80, but maybe we have that wrong. Also this is the same file string that we use if accessing Dropbox directly from the windows side, so it seems like there should be no problem. What makes us think file depth is the issue though, is that if we save the same file at B:\Project\File.aec, it works just fine. Any deeper and we get the alert.

I know we are using a very unconventional file system, but since the problem only happens with Datacad, I thought we would start here. Any help would be very appreciated.

#68151 by jimgoodman
Wed Feb 03, 2016 12:11 pm
The main benefits of Dropbox for Business is that it acts like a virtual server so I would suggest investing in hard drive upgrades for all the local machines and let Dropbox do what it does.

I am not sure about the costs on the Apple side, but we just upgraded one of our machines to a Seagate 4TB, 7500rpm drive for $150.00.
#68152 by Nathan179
Wed Feb 03, 2016 1:23 pm
Thanks for the reply Jim.

Unfortunately I must not have been clear about our setup. The server has been relegated to backup status only, and all Dropbox files are synced to the Mac side of every workstation. Currently only the Datacad files are synced to the windows side, but sometimes it would be nice if everything was available there too. We currently have three, sometimes four, workstations in the office that are synced every time a file is updated in Dropbox. Multiply that by 2 (since it has to happen for the mac and windows side of every workstation) and that is where we have trouble. Your upgrade point may still be valid though. We could upgrade all the hard drives, and that would solve the storage issue. Then we would only need to figure out the bandwidth issue. We just thought if there was a way to simplify the sync to one per workstation with the hardware we have, that would be preferable.

#68154 by joshhuggins
Wed Feb 03, 2016 3:42 pm
To cut the dropbox duplication and extra bandwidth use age on each machine, I would just share the location where dropbox is being synced to in the Mac OS, and then map that shared folder in the Windows OS. I'm not familiar with Mac network protocols and such, but would imagine it would work the same as Windows so the local shared dropbox folder should resolve it's self locally (not being routed thru the actual network) the at almost hard drive speed since it's on the local system/network card location. Even if the share can't be resolved locally between the Mac/Windows protocols and does try to access the share via the network, it should still be very fast and workable as if on a normal network resource. In this way, you could set up every machine with the same set of shares as if everyone was accessing the same local file server but is really just accessing their own private server that is being synced in the background.

I would also look into trying to access the shared folder on the Mac OS via the network shared path instead of locally thru the OS and see if your pathing might stay the same for your files between the 2 OS. I am not sure how MacOS looks at it's own shares vs. a Microsoft network share and if they are handled the same or not. I'm still pretty sure Mac OS doesn't have a way to emulate a mapped drive to a network share. Will let the ol' Mac hounds follow up on best practices here.

Another thing you might want to do is test the sync speed of the Mac and Windows Dropbox clients every 6-12 months or so and see which syncs faster and setup the faster OS as the dropbox/shared folders location. Often syncing companies tweak their software/ protocols and it can severely affect the folder analyzing / sync transmission rates.
#68158 by Nathan179
Wed Feb 03, 2016 8:00 pm
Hi Josh,

That is basically what we are trying to do using the Fusion sharing settings. When a folder on the host mac is shared using Fusion it shows up on the windows guest as vwmware-host Z:\folder name. All folders shared in this way are able to save from Datacad just fine except the Dropbox folder.

The other method of trying to get it to go over the network cannot be acheived in Fusion as the only way the shared host folders show up on the windows side is by using Fusion's sharing settings. No amount of manipulation has been able to make it show up as a Dropbox folder on nmt's iMac over the network. This may be a feature of Fusion meant to make things simple but in this case is preventing a work around.


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