Box is great, and Box Sync is still the most robust file sync tool I have used for huge datasets. In BIM and VDC, our data is getting bigger, primarily due to the prevalence of point clouds. It is not uncommon to have 50gb of scan data for a single site scan. Moving that data to the cloud is challenging, and a lot of data processing and point cloud indexing work still happens on local machines. This means we have to upgrade our local storage devices (hard drives) to handle those tasks.

Recently I went about upgrading the storage on both my Workstation and my Laptop (a Metabox). I wanted a relatively huge platter drive in my workstation, and a relatively huge SSD in my laptop. I had a look online and after a bad experience with Umart, I ended up buying an 8tb Seagate Barracuda from MSY, and a 2tb Samsung 970 EVO from an eBay vendor. Both drives come with a 5 year warranty.

I’ll describe both of these upgrades in detail below

Samsung 970 EVO NVMe M.2 SSD 2tb
Seagate BarraCuda Pro 8tb – and a new SATA cable

Upgrading the Box Sync Hard Drive on my Workstation

Box recently released ‘Box Drive’, but it has a local cache limit of 25GB, which is quite useless for BIM in my opinion.  That means I still wanted to keep using the old faithful Box Sync.  But…

Box Sync does not allow you to move or change the folder location of its data (actually you can, but you only get one chance when you first install it).  After installing, you can’t move the Box Sync root folder without some kind of hacky tricks like pointers, and I didn’t want to go down that path.  We have been syncing Box to a folder on our E drives (secondary hard drive), and now it was time to upgrade that 2tb secondary drive to something bigger.

Here’s how I kept all my Box Sync data and upgraded the hard drive:

  1. Shut down computer
  2. Install the new hard drive (it was a simple SATA drive with data and power cables)
  3. Boot up the computer
  4. Initialise the drive with GPT Partition Style

    GPT Partition Style

     

  5. Use Macrium Reflect to clone the partition from the old drive – including all Box data – to the new drive

    Cloning with Macrium Reflect
  6. Reboot into Safe Mode
  7. Use the video below to ‘swap the drive letters’. This step basically tricks Windows into using the new, larger hard drive (as the ‘E’ drive in my case). And Box Sync works perfectly, it just picks up where it left off.

Now we have lots of room for Box Sync and more:

New hard drive capacity

One final thing I had to do was “uncompress” the drive data. I had used NTFS compression with the previous drive but now I no longer needed the compression. Just go to the file or folder properties and untick “Compress this drive”.

Adding a New SSD into My Metabox Laptop

The next thing I did was add another SSD to my laptop. I looked up the manual and it said I had another M.2 2280 (22mm x 80mm) slot available. In the first slot I already had a Samsung 950 Pro 512gb as my primary drive. I did some research and decided to go with a Samsung EVO 970 2tb drive. After waiting patiently for my ebay order to arrive, I then cracked open the Metabox to install it.

Here is what I did:

  1. Removed the back cover of the laptop

    This is under the back cover of the Metabox

     

  2. Looked around everywhere and couldn’t find the M.2 slot – in fact I couldn’t find my primary drive. After a moment of panic, and then a quick look on YouTube, I realised I had to remove my keyboard. So I removed the KB screw and carefully pried the keyboard off, then there it was – my spare M.2 slot!

    Additional M.2 slot under the keyboard

     

    New drive ready to install
  3. I carefully installed the 2tb SSD and then closed up the laptop
    Installed
  4. The system booted up fine, then I went into Disk Management and initialised the disk with a GPT record,
  5. Created a new partition with NTFS default sector size, and
  6. We are good to go!

Now that I had a much bigger SSD to work with, I immediately moved my Revizto Working Folder onto that new 2tb SSD. This will allow me to fully utilise a lot of the great new Revizto Point Cloud features and at the same time have full M.2 SSD performance.

Update:

Out of interest, I have added the Samsung Magician performance scores for the Samsung SSD 950 PRO 512GB and Samsung SSD 970 EVO 2TB below:

Samsung SSD 950 PRO 512GB Performance

 

Samsung SSD 970 EVO 2TB Performance

BIM documents and files are often linked into each other, such as consultant links in a contractor Revit model, or plain NWCs appended to a master NWF Federated coordination file. In each case, the BIM application will try to find and open the linked files when opening the host model.

However, this only works if the pathing is predictable (ie. ‘the file is on C drive in folder MODELS’), and the typical situation is that you are running a corporate LAN that gives secure access to one or more mapped network drives (J drive or H drive or L drive). The problem is that your corporate LAN isn’t typically accessible via the cloud. A number of products exist to try and solve that problem, such as Citrix ShareFile.

But what about Box? It has a reliable, proven infrastructure and apps for all of your main devices. Its scalable and essentially secure. But… What about the mapped drive problem?

As part of our work at Virtual Built, we come across problems and provide solutions for this kind of issue all the time.

Here is how you can share BIM via the Box cloud and retain file pathing:

The first thing you will need is a common drive letter that can be applied to all of your computers and workstations. Sometimes, you may already have a secondary drive installed, perhaps with a drive letter of E. What we are going to do is point the Box Sync app at a subfolder of E drive, and then all the members of the team will use E:\BOX\Box Sync\ as the ‘root’ for all shared documents and models.

First problem: what if we don’t have an E drive (secondary hard drive or partition)? Well you can trick your system into thinking that you do…

  1. On C drive, make a root folder called C:\E_DRIVE
  2. Right click this folder in Windows Explorer and enable Sharing
  3. After sharing is enabled, you can ‘map’ the local folder as a drive. When mapping, use the local computer name with two backslashes, followed by the folder name.

Shared

 

Mapped drive to local folder

Now, we install Box Sync 4. After install, you will have one opportunity at first run to set the storage location. We choose to use E:\BOX as the folder…

That is basically it! Now, Box Sync will sync your models and projects from the cloud. When you set up your models inside that root folder (E:\BOX\Box Sync\), then the Revit links and Navisworks NWCs will all be able to ‘resolve’ properly on each system that you set up in this way. Then, when you save changes in that location they will then be synced back up to the cloud and down to your team, all automatically.

This structure can also be used to share Dynamo Packages among your team:

Important Note! There are a few big things to consider:

  • This does not give simultaneous modification access, such as for a Revit central file. If you and someone else modify the same file, Box will probably save two versions with your username appended.
  • You may be essentially opening up Local PC Access to the data in your Box folder (because it is no longer in a Windows-controlled appdata location). So be aware of the implications of this…

Box tip: You may also want to check your Logs folder for some big files:

boxsynclogs.png
Originally publish Mar 02, 2016 at 19:37 by Luke Johnson