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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Backing Up Autodesk Vault - On a Budget

“Back up my hard drive? How do I put it in reverse?”

I would be the first to say that we should all be making backups of our CAD data!

Do you think I follow my own advice?

Pffft!  No! 

Of course I have my excuses!
  1. My CAD Data isn't use for production, so it's not critical.
  2. I work in a highly mobile environment, and everything runs on my laptop.   That means I 'm not connected to a good backup server much of the time
  3. I'm too lazy to take 15 minutes to plug in my portable hard drive and copy my Vault Backup over to the drive. 
  4. The most famous, used by many; (wait for it). "It hasn't failed yet!"
Are these good excuses? 

Pffft! No!  

So if  the The Oatmeal's Famous "Tumbeasts" made an appearance and at my hard drive, I was out of luck.

Try passing this excuse off at work.

One day, I had an epiphany that was worthy of MacGyver.

I implemented it, and thus far it's been working well! 

First I had to take stock of my assets.
  • I already have a script that backs up my Autodesk Vault database and filestore that contains my CAD data. 
  • I have a Dropbox account that has more than enough room to accommodate my current backup
  • At my home, I have an old retired computer that I use as a data server, which also has plenty of room for my Vault database and filestore.
That's enough for me!

I created a new script that moves my backup file to a Dropbox folder.  In turn, that folder syncs up with my online Dropbox account, which is stored in the cloud.

My Vault Backup in my Dropbox Folder

BOOM!  Backup! 

Then, I setup my old data server to sync with my Dropbox account, so now I have a backup at home, as well as on online! 

BOOM!  Redundancy!  

I've been running this system for about a week now, and it's been working pretty well.  I've restored from it once already successfully

But just like everything it's got good and bad. 

First the good!
  • It's a simple and effective backup strategy, especially for the budget minded. 
  • By using Dropbox, I can sync the backup to multiple machines, they just have to be syncing to the Dropbox account.
Now the not so good!
  • Since this is a cloud backup, there needs to be sufficient bandwidth to support uploading and downloading potentially gigabytes of data.
  • Online storage accounts, such as Dropbox, Autodesk 360, and SkyDrive have limited storage capacity (typically a few gigabytes until you purchase more).  So monitoring usage can be important, especially as data gets larger.
Fortunately, my Vault data is about 750MB, so I have more than enough room in my Dropbox account (over 6GB), and I upload across a fiber optic line, so bandwidth isn't an issue for me, so this is effective for me.

In summary, this system probably isn't good for everybody, but for a small environment, with limited resources to purchase hardware and infrastructure, it may be exactly the ticket.

P.S.  I'm sure there are those of you might be wondering why I didn't use my Autodesk 360 account.  The reasons are simple.  I tried my Dropbox account first, and I'm too busy (read too lazy) to switch it over.  I could just as easily have used my Autodesk 360 account!

I hope this is a tip you might be able to use in your own environment!

Have another idea to create a backup like this on a budget, check out the comment section! 


  1. Great post! I backup my Vaults to Dropbox, too using an bat-file and 7-Zip to compress the Data. Thanks to packrat-feature ich can restore every backup.

  2. Nice! I wondering it it would be possible to zip the files first. Now I know!

    Thanks! :-)