Have you actually TRIED Vault?

OK, enough with the FUD. Vault is not going to kill you. It is not going to drive you out of business. It is not going to make your users rethink their entire view of the world.

It will make you think some. It will make your users think some. It will make your data more secure, and allow you to use C3D data in ways that you cannot do with any other solution. So, with that said, here’s my skinny on Vault as it is today. All of my comments are based on using Vault in a real team environment, not the one-person shop all by themselves. That situation gets its own rules.

Want to argue with me about something here? Fine, please comment! But you better have at least installed it on more than your local machine using the defaults. Don’t bring the weak sauce.

  1. Install Vault to a server. If you don’t have a server, get one. Don’t play games with your data. It doesn’t have to be the only thing on that server, but it sure helps. If you use SBE and the Outlook Contact Manager, get another box to put your Vault on. It won’t kill you, a new W2003 server is less than ONE seat of C3D. You don’t know what’s involved? Let us solve that problem for you.
  2. Upgrade from the MSDE to 2005 Express. I’m giving away the farm here, but the whole stupid argument about 10 users and connections, etc are all irrelevant when you use 2005 Express. The upgrade path can be found by downloading the FULL install of Vault 5 from your subscription site. You’re on subscription, right? Dig into the files, and you’ll find a folder for the upgrade. Do it. Breathe. Relax. Get on with your life. Quit worrying about stupid stuff.
  3. Put your shared working folder BACK to the directory you already use for your projects. Force the issue. Don’t let users control this, it will not end well for you. By using the shared working folder approach, you allow non-Vault dwg consumers to actually do something with your data. Hot sports opinion for the day: Using a local working folder is dumb. You were using network data in LDT or whatever else you had, use it now. The speed difference is NOT going to make a significant change in your life.
  4. Don’t backup the Vault. Not like you do now at least. Back it up manually, once a week, once a month, whenever lets you sleep better. Backup your working folder, not your Vault. This allows you to use the data backup plan you have in place (you do have one, right?) with all the standard software that’s out there, and you don’t have to shut down the server to do it. Oh, and yes, the backup plans for the Actual Vault are completely asinine. Someone at Autodesk needs a smack to the back of the head for that one. Ever heard of an all-nighter, fellas?
  5. Train your people! This isn’t rocket science, and it’s not even as complicated as all the FUD-mongers in the newsgroups want it to be. Develop a workflow. Document it. Give it out. Put it in a flowchart diagram and stick it on the wall behind your users’ monitors. Don’t understand the workflow? Get some training yourself! The cost of a day or two of training is nothing compared to the headaches of struggling through it by yourself or with the reseller that knows less than you do. Hell, he or she probably doesn’t even read my blog, you already know more than them. (That’s a joke, get it?)

All right, the five Vault Rules according to James. I might expand them. I might not. Comment below. If you really want to get into it, call me, I’m always willing to talk shop.

nine seven two nine eight nine one one two two. But don’t call during the Sopranos, OK?

See you soon. Or not.


  1. Scott says:

    AGREED! Awesome post!

  2. Jon Rizzo says:

    Most of what you said is pretty much what we’re doing. I’m not sure that I agree with the “don’t back up the vault” bit, though. How can you say that “Vault will make your data more secure” if you aren’t backing it up? What if something happens and you lose the database? You have to manually recreate it from the working files. We have hundreds of projects (thousands, actually) and I would probably get fired long before I finished recreating the database. Autodesk needs to step up here. What is really needed is a backup solution that doesn’t require you to shut down the entire system.

  3. I agree with Jon completely.
    Somehow I can’t believe the inventor guys and their IT departments run like this.

  4. JW says:


    My intent is that you don’t back up the Vault every night _for_right_now. It is my premise that the incredibly poor backup plan for Vault is NOT enough of an issue to stop implementing Vault for the rest of the benefits.

    MOST backup plans right now are intent on getting back the plans as they were last night, when someone pulled the plug mistakenly. Backing up the shared working folder accomplishes this in the same way that backing up the server does right now. In addition, I also think that most places will have Vault and the Working Folder on two different servers. The odds of both failing is pretty low in most well maintained networks.

    Thanks for commenting!

  5. Kevin says:

    Great post. How about #6 – you don’t have to store everything in vault (like sheets in sheet set manager)? So far, we are only vaulting drawings that have shared data or that we need to version. This might help those that are worried that vault + working folder = new hard drives for server.