To paraphrase an old expression, “you can never be too rich, too good-looking, or…have too many backup copies of your files.”
We all know we should back up our files, and…we all learn the hard way what happens if we don’t. I have become particularly sensitive to this after a server crash – I have external drives hanging off almost every USB port in my computer. Our resident IT guru recently posted on a network utility, and it put me in mind of one of my favorite go-to programs, and hence the topic of this post: The Best SolidWorks Tip That Isn’t A SolidWorks Tip.
The utility is a simple but very overlooked one called Robocopy, or Robust File Copy. It is a command-line program that has shipped with Windows since Vista but can be downloaded and compatibly run with XP as part of the Windows Server 2003 Resource Kit. The key distinction between it and using any number of tools, such as Windows Explorer, is that it only copies files that have changed since the last copy. Hence, your first backup will take the same amount of time as any other method, but subsequent backups will be very quick. Additionally, there are options for accurately replicating the destination folders even if the sources have changed, i.e., you’ve deleted/moved folders or files. Of course, there are ways to use wildcards to denote only certain file types, and exceptions to folder lists as well. Plus – and this is big plus – the command will recursively keep retrying if there is an error, such as loss of network connectivity. A typical command line (I throw these into batch files for ease) might read:
Robocopy c:\sourcedirectory n:\destinationdirectory /s /purge
This example will copy all files, including subdirectories, and delete any no longer existent files.
Like any command line utility, all the options and examples can be listed by typing Robocopy /? at the command window prompt. And if you Google around enough, you’ll even see some free GUI front ends out there on Microsoft TechNet.
So…what does this Tech Tip have to do with SolidWorks? Let’s see….ever had to remodel a part or lay out a drawing or assembly after a computer problem of some sort, and your computer or server hadn't been backed up recently? That’s what I’m talking about!