Struggling with AutoCAD on Dropbox, Google Drive, SharePoint, or via a VPN?

Do you experience overwritten changes when modifying CAD drawings in SharePoint? Are broken external references a frequent headache? Have you had to restructure your project's permissions or layout to fit SharePoint or OneDrive's constraints? Or perhaps, in search of stability, have you resorted to a traditional VPN, only to face persistent slowness and connectivity quirks?

There's a better way to overcome these challenges!

Our partners & customers

Trusted by 1000+ IT Solution Providers and Enterprises

Nékter Juice Bar
Koch Engineered Solutions
Red Bull
Pogue Construction
Elitser Technologies

A Tale of Tech Troubles: An Engineering Firm's Journey with SharePoint and VPN

An engineering firm has been using SharePoint for over three years. The SharePoint service was part of their Office 365 subscription and was initially used primarily for Microsoft Teams and Office documents. Recently, they started moving some CAD files to SharePoint and encountered two issues.

1. The File Lock Issue - it's not specifically about the need to change the file sequentially, but rather that the sync and lock file corrupts the files. You can think of the drawing CAD as a bunch of files grouped together with a lock file. So without file locking, it is not an atomic update.

2. External Reference (XREF) - Since they use the files from Windows machines, there is a OneDrive folder. But with the OneDrive folder, anyone updating the file changes the external reference to "C:\users\joe-or-john\OneDrive" so the path is not the same on all machines.

In search of a solution, the firm also experimented with accessing AutoCAD files via a traditional VPN. This approach, while seemingly a fallback, brought its own set of challenges. The VPN connection was often slow, affecting the responsiveness and efficiency of AutoCAD operations. Additionally, the frequent disconnections and the complexity of maintaining a stable VPN connection further compounded their frustrations.

folder permissions

Permission Puzzles and VPN Hurdles?

Another story involves a construction company that does not use Office 365's OneDrive or SharePoint because the permissions structure is very important to them. Since the company is in the electrical installation business and there are many project folders, permission structures were set for the different projects. The synchronization of OneDrive folders breaks the permission.

In search of a feasible alternative, the company reverted to using a VPN for remote file access. However, this solution brought its unique set of challenges. Every laptop needed to be physically brought to the office for a secure VPN setup, a process described by the IT department as needing a 'birthplace within the company'. This, coupled with the complexities of VPN licensing management, significantly burdened the IT team, adding logistical hurdles and administrative overhead.

Below, we summarize the three most commonly cited problem areas when using AutoCAD with traditional cloud storage solutions like SharePoint, OneDrive, Google Drive, or Dropbox. Additionally, we acknowledge the challenges faced when reverting to VPN as an alternative. A robust storage solution should effectively address these three key issues.

file locking

File Locking

You can think of the CAD drawing as a bunch of files grouped together with a lock file. So without file locking, it is not an atomic update. Also, file locking sometimes takes the form of a specific lock file when synchronized with other computers, which can cause problems.

external references

External Reference

CAD drawings and Adobe InDesign files have external references to other supporting materials in the form of files. Some external references and link files have an absolute file name that begins with a drive letter followed by a file path. When the drive letter or file path changes, the references are broken.

folder permissions

Folder Permissions

In a Windows Active Directory-based file system, files and folders are protected by NTFS permissions. When the files and folders are migrated from the file servers to cloud storage services, there are no longer NTFS permissions on the files and folders.

Understanding the Root of File Management Woes in Cloud Storage and VPNs

Traditional cloud storage solutions like Dropbox, SharePoint, and OneDrive rely on a peer-to-peer file synchronization model. Users typically place files in a designated folder (e.g., a 'Dropbox' folder), which are then synced across devices. This method, while efficient for certain types of file sharing, can lead to complications with file locking, external reference integrity, and permission management. These issues arise because this syncing process differs significantly from traditional file server network sharing.

Furthermore, when organizations reverted to VPNs to support remote work, they encountered a familiar set of challenges that initially drove them towards cloud storage solutions. They sought the speed and performance promised by cloud services, along with the offline availability of files during poor internet connectivity. However, what they implicitly expected – yet didn’t expressly articulate – was a need to maintain certain traditional network features. This includes consistent drive letter mapping, robust file locking, and effective permission control. In essence, they were seeking the best of both worlds: the advanced capabilities of cloud storage, minus the sluggishness, connectivity issues, and management headaches associated with VPNs.

Revolutionizing Remote Access – Merging Cloud Efficiency with VPN Reliability

Triofox Setup Explanation

Triofox: Simplifying Remote Access with Advanced Technology

Imagine Triofox as a sophisticated, HTTPS-based storage gateway, seamlessly installed within your existing IT infrastructure, right alongside your file servers or storage services. At its core, Triofox functions like a highly efficient web server. It handles external file access requests with ease, translating these into secure operations within your company's network.

On the inside, Triofox integrates flawlessly with your Active Directory, ensuring robust authentication and utilizing your established file transfer protocols for internal operations. Externally, it employs HTTP streaming to transfer files, ensuring swift and secure data exchange. This technology extends to a range of devices, with dedicated agent software designed for Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android platforms.

Main questions - How does it work?

Triofox leverages the power of HTTPS-based storage gateway technology, making file transfers over the internet significantly faster and more efficient. Here’s how:

1. Streamlined HTTPS Streaming Protocol:

Unlike the older SMB protocol used over VPNs, which requires each chunk of a file to be acknowledged before sending the next, HTTPS operates as a streaming protocol. This means that once the file transfer starts, Triofox can continuously send data in chunks without waiting for the receiver's acknowledgment for each piece. This continuous stream greatly reduces the time taken to transfer files, especially noticeable in environments with high latency or slower internet connections.

2. Intelligent Local Caching by Triofox Agent Software:

Triofox's agent software, installed on remote Windows and macOS machines, intelligently caches files locally. This means if a file hasn’t changed since its last access, it doesn’t need to be re-fetched from the server. This local caching significantly speeds up file access and reduces unnecessary data transfer, making it a much quicker solution compared to traditional VPN file access, where each file retrieval would require a complete download from the server.

One of the major challenges with VPNs is their dependence on a stable internet connection. A minor internet glitch or a router reset can disrupt the VPN connection, leading to errors even during simple tasks like saving an Excel spreadsheet. This is where Triofox's advanced approach makes a significant difference.

1. Robust Local Caching with Triofox Agent Software:

Triofox's agent software, installed on Windows and macOS devices, creates a local drive letter mapping for easy access. It intelligently manages a local cache of files. When you save a file, it's first stored in this local cache and then synchronized back to the server when the internet connection is available. Similarly, when opening a file, Triofox first checks the local cache. If the latest version is already downloaded, it opens it directly from there, reducing the dependency on a live internet connection.

2. Seamless Read and Write Operations:

With sophisticated timestamp management and change notifications, Triofox ensures that the local cache is always up to date with the most recent file versions. This means even if you're working in areas with poor internet connectivity, you can reliably read from and write to your files. The local cache acts as a bridge, providing uninterrupted access and later syncing changes when the connection is restored.

Triofox stands out from many sync-based services by offering a unique approach to file management. Rather than using a standard synchronization folder, Triofox employs a more integrated method:

1. Drive Letter or Volume Mounting:

Triofox's remote agents on Windows and macOS provide a drive letter or volume that mounts directly into Windows Explorer and Mac Finder, respectively. This integration is more than just a convenience; it's a fundamental part of how Triofox manages files more effectively.

2. Proactive File Operation Detection:

With the drive letter system, Triofox is able to proactively detect file operation intents. This means that before any file is opened or modified, Triofox checks the current file locking status. It's a more intelligent and anticipatory approach compared to traditional sync folders (like a Dropbox folder), where the system only becomes aware of changes after the fact.

3. Advantages Over Sync Folders:

In a typical sync folder scenario, when a file is placed into the folder, the sync only happens post-operation, without any knowledge of other users’ interactions with the same file. This often leads to conflicts or overwritten changes. Triofox, with its drive letter-based system, prevents such conflicts by ensuring file locking is checked and managed before any file is accessed or altered.

Triofox's approach to permission control is intricately linked with its file locking mechanism, showcasing a comprehensive strategy for managing file operations. Here’s how it works:

1. Proactive Detection of User Intentions:

Similar to its file locking feature, Triofox employs agent software on Windows and macOS that provides a drive letter-based system. This setup is key to understanding and managing user interactions with files. Whenever a user attempts to read or write a file, Triofox doesn’t just passively sync these changes; it actively checks the user’s intent.

2. Integrated Permission Checks:

Before any file operation is allowed, be it reading or writing, Triofox proactively checks against the set permission controls. This ensures that every file interaction is compliant with the existing permission structure set by the organization. It's a level of control that traditional sync folders cannot offer, where permissions are often only managed at a more superficial level.

3. Aligning with Organizational Policies:

By seamlessly integrating with the organization’s existing permission framework such as Active Directory and NTFS Permission, Triofox ensures that all file interactions are governed by the same rules and policies that apply within the conventional network environment. This alignment is crucial in maintaining data security and regulatory compliance, especially when dealing with sensitive or confidential AutoCAD files.

AutoCAD files, like many complex file types, rely heavily on interconnected external references, akin to a network of files representing a single cohesive entity. This interconnection is crucial for maintaining the integrity of AutoCAD projects. Before the era of cloud storage, these references typically resided on company file servers and were accessed through a uniform drive letter-based system.

1. Uniform Drive Letter Mapping:

In a traditional office setup, if all employees access company-wide AutoCAD files via a mapped drive letter, say 'M:', the external references among these files remain consistent within this 'M:' drive hierarchy. This uniformity is essential for the proper functioning of external references.

2. Triofox's Drive Letter System Over HTTPS:

Triofox replicates this familiar and essential drive letter mapping system over its HTTPS-based remote storage gateway. This means that when employees work from home or any remote location, they continue to access their AutoCAD files through the same drive letter 'M:', as if they were in the office. This continuity is key to ensuring that all external references remain intact, without the need for a VPN.

3. Seamless Remote Access with Integrity:

By providing a consistent drive letter experience, regardless of the user's location, Triofox ensures that the intricate web of external references in AutoCAD files is preserved. Employees can work remotely with the assurance that their files will interact as expected, free from the common disruptions caused by inconsistent path references in a traditional cloud or VPN environment.

The Triofox Advantage

Gladinet Triofox offers a transformative cloud file access solution that seamlessly enhances existing IT infrastructures. It bridges the gaps traditionally associated with cloud storage and VPNs, ensuring interoperability with current network shares and providing robust offline folder capabilities. With its native integration into Active Directory and familiar cloud drive mapping, Triofox maintains a consistent user experience while upholding stringent NTFS permission controls and global file locking. These features collectively address common pain points such as VPN slowness, file locking conflicts, and broken external references in AutoCAD files. Triofox stands out by offering a solution that not only aligns with but extends the capabilities of existing file servers, ensuring secure, efficient, and reliable file access in both remote and in-office settings. This makes Triofox an indispensable tool for modern organizations seeking to optimize their file management systems without disrupting their established IT ecosystem.

Mapped Drive

Mapped drive over the HTTPS channel to the corporate file server is a crucial feature. Employees are familiar with a mapped drive, and no additional training is required.

Active Directory

Corporate users already have corporate identities in Active Directory and related Active Directory federation service and SAML single-sign-on. They don't need yet another set of credentials to access a file-sharing solution.

File Locking

Most file-sharing solutions offer manual file locking in the forms of "file check-in" and "check out." Gladinet provides automatic file locking by detecting file opening requests. When Microsoft Word opens a file, the file locking process will be initiated automatically and finished automatically when the file editing finishes.

File Permissions

Finally, integrating with Active Directory and NTFS permission makes it easier for system administrators to set up the permission control. The permission features make the Gladinet solution stands out among its peers.

You will solve the problems by adding these features to a file server!

offline editing

Offline Editing

A traditional VPN requires a stable and active connection to the corporate firewall to function. A disruption in the Internet or an interrupted connection to the firewall interrupts employees' work with unsaved files. With offline editing, remote workers can save and edit documents without an active connection and save the files asynchronously to a corporate file server once the connection is restored.

Always on drive letter

Always On

A firewall vendor typically offers VPN without an always-on feature. Always-on VPN requires more infrastructure components such as identity servers, authentication servers, compatible clients OS, etc. However, most modern cloud applications are always-on, allowing offline access to files and folders and storing files on a local device before synchronizing them with online servers.

high performance

High Performance

Accessing file servers is hardly high-performance because when a VPN serves as an enabler, file access is via the SMB/CIFS protocol. First of all, the SMB protocol is not a data streaming protocol with many requests and responses. If we can switch to HTTP streaming for file transfer, performance will improve. Second, HTTP-based file transfer traffic can take advantage of a global content delivery network, so HTTP is faster for cross-continent transfer.

Cloud Drive Mapping Highlights

Windows & Mac

Remote access to file shares via a drive letter on Windows and a mounted volume on Mac

On-Demand Synchronization

Minimize storage and bandwidth consumption by automatically synchronizing and caching only the files you need.

Endpoint Protection

Encrypt remote agent caches or revoke remote agent access privileges from a central management console.

Offline Access

Access shared files and folders in an offline mode, without connecting to the Internet, and synchronize them when you are back online.

More Cloud Drive Mapping Highlights

Folder Permissions

Define different permissions for folders at different levels of the directory structure or inherit from NTFS permissions directly.

Hybrid Cloud File Server

Triofox can mirror a local file server into cloud storage for a hybrid cloud server setup.

Active Directory

You can define user rights for folder sharing from internal Active Directory users to external clients and partners.

Version Control

Triofox adds version control and file protection from cloud storage to the local file server.

Cloud Mobility Features in Conjunction with Local File Server

Triofox extends a file server with a set of SharePoint-like features, including web-based access and file sharing. At the same time, it retains the file locking, Active Directory integration, and permission control of the file server. This combination solves the problem of file locking, external references, and folder permissions.

Retire File Servers

Businesses need to purchase new file servers every few years. These investments can be avoided by migrating file shares to the cloud with Triofox. Users can continue working with existing file shares without interruption, and the file server can be decommissioned once the migration is complete.

Remote Access and File Sharing

Simplify remote access and file sharing with familiar interfaces on any computer or device. Windows and Mac desktops natively display mapped drives in Explorer and Finder. The same experience is presented on iOS and Android devices like iPads, iPhones, and Pixels, or through popular web browsers like Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer.

Simplify File Shares Access

Easily collaborate with business partners by providing them with access to a limited set of internal files or folders. Share files with non-AD users while maintaining administrative controls. Simplify multi-site collaboration with automatic version controls and file locking.

Reduce Costs by Replacing VPN

Eliminate the overhead and support tickets commonly associated with VPN file sharing, Always On VPN, or Direct Access. Automatically use existing users and permissions to save setup time and money. The cloud mapped drive is always on without the VPN connections.

Simplify Management

Eliminate the need to manage servers on-premises by retiring them to the cloud. Centrally manage users, access controls, and storage for each tenant. Easily keep track of where data resides, who has access, and how it's shared.

Centrally Manage Permissions

For complete control and visibility, granular permissions can be managed from the file server they originate from or natively with Triofox. When the file server is retired, Triofox becomes the new permissions master.

Maintain Compliance

Centrally manage users, access controls, and storage for each tenant. Easily track where data resides, who has access, and how it is shared. Administrators can perform audits for GDPR and HIPAA compliance or track all changes to individual files.

Increase Productivity

Provide an always-on mapped drive that works anywhere on any device, and allows mobile users to easily access internal file shares or cloud file servers. Users are already familiar with the mapped drive, so no additional training is required.

Enhance Data Security

Data protection comes with military-grade encryption, secure connections, and more. Automatically use existing users and permissions to save setup time and money.

On-Demand Synchronization

Cloud mapped drives leverage local cache and on-demand download to reduce bandwidth usage and endpoint storage consumption. Cloud mapped drive technology works with a laptop with a small local SSD drive.

Private White Labeled Solution

Triofox provides a white-labeled solution that makes it easy for enterprises to build a self-hosted file sharing solution based on the current Active Directory and file server infrastructure.

A Private Cloud Alternative

When it comes to data privacy, security, and control, Triofox offers a better alternative to Dropbox and SharePoint when using a private cloud or network shares on an on-premises file server.

Increase the productivity of your mobile workforce!

© Copyright Gladinet, Inc. 2024 - All Rights Reserved