Frequent tipster Danny Korem shares a tip about how to keep users' files current if they have to work offline from the company network.
"Serving as the CAD manager for a few dozen users is easier if one keeps up with technology. At our office, AutoCAD's support paths are in many cases public (including fonts, template files, routines, and so forth). That makes it easier for me to change contents, add and remove support files, and more.
"As in any organization, once in a while our servers don't function as expected, or they go down. To keep the workstations going even during downtime, I started experimenting (on laptop computers at first, and then on desktops as well) with Microsoft Windows' capabilities of making folders available offline.
"Here's the drill: click on a folder, right-click, and opt for Make Available Offline. This option will cause the server drive to appear while its contents (files and subfolders) are grayed out, all except those selected to be available offline, which will have a sync icon to its left. Everything will function as usual when away from the office, but when reconnecting to the network, any changes executed will be synchronized automatically. A folder containing working files can be treated similarly so one can be as independent and effective as always."
Notes from Cadalyst Tip Reviewer Brian Benton: This is really a Windows tip and not a CAD tip, but it is one many CAD users can take advantage of. It's a common problem that can be dealt with in many ways, most of which are not very appealing.
This method will automatically sync the network folder with your computer. It copies the files to your machine and makes sure they match. If you have to disconnect from the server (go offline) at any time, you will still have access to those files. The downside is that if you change the files while offline, other users may still have access to them online and may also be changing the files. When you reconnect, Windows will try to sync the changes and you may have an issue. As with anything else in file management, be careful and communicate.