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Move AutoCAD files to a new server

ryanak asked
I am going to be deploying a few new servers for some of my clients over the next couple months. Most of these clients use AutoCAD (REVIT, Inventor, Standard, 2010 and 2011). The clients have mentioned that in the past when they have moved servers, they have had to "relink" their AutoCAD drawings due to the new server names. Since I am not an AutoCAD expert, one of my clients explained the issue to me. Even though they save to a mapped drive, AutoCAD internally saves information using a UNC path. I know I can take some additional steps that would allow me to not have to change the name of the server, but is there another way that this issue can be prevented?
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I believe Autocad saves the link using whatever the user did when the file was attached.  If they used a UNC path then it's saved that way.  If they used a mapped drive then it's saved that way.  if you open an autocad file type xref then click on some of the items referenced in the drawing (assuming there are files linked to that drawing), then you can see whether or not a UNC path was used.  Revit appears to work the same way.  I've never had issues with moving files to another server assuming that mapped drives matched as we do not use UNC paths in our links.  You might try copying a directory with Autocad files to a temporary server, mapping the drive to the temporary box with the same basic directory structure and opening the files to see if they resolve.  it's likely that they will.



I've only used the AutoCAD family of products, so can't speak to REVIT or others, but I agree with grifster, and to elaborate if it's of use, AutoCAD can save path information for linked files (be they images, other drawing files, or what have you) in one of three ways (it's all up to the operator):

1. No path at all, great if you have simple drawings and keep everything in the same folder.
2. A relative path, useful for creating a fixed folder structure independent of server or drive letter. This can be as simple or as complex as you like, any relative path that would be legal in DOS will work, for example: ..\xref
3. A specific fixed path. This can again be as simple or as complex as you like, and can be either drive letter based or UNC based.

To make matters more complicated you can mix and match any or all of these 3 styles in a single drawing. In the more than 20 years I've been using AutoCAD I've never run into any issues with moving files from one server with a mapped drive letter to another server with the SAME mapped drive letter. If your files are stored on the "P:" drive AutoCAD has no idea if that's a local drive or a mapped server drive. In fact in AutoCAD 2011 it could even be symbolic link (in previous versions symbolic links didn't work as you would have expected). Over the years I've used all three systems with equal success depending on the situation. At my company we use DFS and mapped drives so the underlying server structure is invisible to both the end user and AutoCAD, although like symbolic links, DFS only works properly with AutoCAD 2011. Symbolic links and DFS work in previous versions of AutoCAD, it's just that AutoCAD thinks they are short-cuts so you can't double-click on them, you have to click the "Open" button on dialog boxes to drill down into them.

Regardless, AutoCAD (don't know about REVIT and others) has a number of ways to repath linked files, either individually or globally, and using either VBA, AutoLisp or other methods this can be automated further and conceivably incorporate whatever degree of logic or intelligence is required.

The bottom line: If your client(s) saved paths in their drawings with drive letters and you keep the drive letter mapping the same, AutoCAD won't know the difference. If they used UNC paths you'll have to run a script on every file to update the paths to the new UNC locations. If they didn't save paths in drawings, it's a non-issue, and if they weren't consistent and used a mixture of the possible methods you have a mess.

ryanak has a good point on the scripts.  you might also look into the reference manager that can be found in the Autocad program menu in windows that will let you run a find and replace across multiple drawings.
Use Referance Manager for the scripts.

Are they using Vault for the Inventor files? That would eliminate the issue with Inventor. Otherwise, Inventor use to ship with a utility that'll allow you to manage the linked files. Forgot what it was called however.