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Thread: Getting new file server. Special considerations for Revit?

  1. #1
    Junior Member
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    May 15, 2014
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    02:04 AM

    Getting new file server. Special considerations for Revit?

    Hi all,

    My office is considering purchasing a new file server. Our current one is a Mac Pro 1,1 (2006). We're Mac based and use VMWare Fusion on most workstations. I use Bootcamp on mine. My employer is under the impression we can use a $500 mac mini as a replacement file server for our 10 person office and ~1tb of data. We have a separate mac mini for mail. Are there any hardware considerations I should make them aware of since we use it for Revit central models? I have a vague understanding of what hardware is prioritized for individuals workstations, but not for the file server where our central models live.

  2. #2
    Forum Co-Founder iru69's Avatar
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    December 7, 2010
    United States
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    11:04 PM
    Hi Biaadm,

    It's kind of hard to address your question without addressing your "unusual" firm setup. What kind of AEC firm is it, and how are you using Revit? I.e. is it your main CAD software or are you (the firm) just occasionally using it?

    Regarding the file server itself, I'd recommend RAID 1 storage (as a minimum) for any office, especially for any office with 3 or more workers. So, if you have a RAID 1 external drive hooked up to the Mac Mini via Thunder Bolt, eSATA, maybe USB3 (I'm hesitant about USB3 serving that many users), that'll work with some limitations. Running a 10 person office off of the internal drive of a Mac Mini is not a good idea.

    But while you could do that (purchase a Mac Mini and something like a Pegasus RAID storage device), I would strongly suggest looking at a mid-range NAS, such as the Synology DS713+ or DS415+. You purchase one of these and a couple of recommended hard drives to go with it, and you're done. This is a less expensive way to go, and works decently in a Mac environment. It also offers a bunch of cool "cloud" features, etc. There are plenty of other NAS devices out there to check out with a little googling. Purchasing a tower PC file server (e.g. a Dell PowerEdge) is very likely overkill for a firm of your size, and an unnecessary complication (unless you have an on-site IT guy to admin it).

    All that aside, I feel compelled to comment about what seems to be going on in your office. I appreciate that there are always unique circumstances for every firm, but since you've provided no further detail, I have to say that it seems crazy to have an office full of Macs and everyone running Revit in a VM, which is just awful performance and a terrible value. Boot Camp is fine. I generally wouldn't recommend buying Macs solely to run Boot Camp (mostly due to potential GPU driver issues), but at least your getting the performance you spent money on. And you're running your own mail server? That's crazy as well in this day and age.

    Feel free to follow up with more specifics about your office and users, software, etc., as well as any more specific hardware questions.

    Good luck!

  3.    #3
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    May 15, 2014
    Current Local Time
    02:04 AM
    Hi iru, thank you for responding.

    We're a small architecture firm who specializes in work you'd typically see a larger firm do (infrastructure/transportation/etc). We're currently 50% Revit 50% AutoCAD. I'm encouraging Revit for jobs where it makes sense to use it (we also do small/fasttrack jobs). We primarily use Revit 2015, AutoCAD 2015, SketchUp 2014/8 pro, Maxwell 2.7, Adobe Suite CS5, and MS Office 2011. I'm advocating getting everyone on the same operating system (we have 5 different versions of OSX, thankfully all on same version of Windows).

    Our current server backs up to a few external drives (1 usb 2.0/ 1 thunderbolt), and some type of cloud based backup. We'll periodically copy the server content onto external drives and store them offside. All our workstations back up to the server via Chronosync. Nothing is saved to the workstations aside from Revit local files so I've instead encouraged having a standard .dmg/.iso image of our Mac/Windows setups. Noone but our IT consultant knows how to use Chronosync.

    Thank you for the NAS recommendations.

    Running a Mac based office is their preference, as are the software choices (everything except AutoCAD/Revit is licensed on Mac partition only) and file server/backup configurations. Thankfully, they're open and receptive to recommendations, so I'm doing my due diligence to make everyone's (and by extension, my) life easier. Showing RFO 2015 VM vs. Bootcamp workstation benchmark comparisons, lack of problems and notable speed increases on Bootcamp machines has helped make the case for it. Fwiw, we also host our website off the file server.
    Last edited by Biaadm; January 2nd, 2015 at 11:42 AM.

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