SOLIDWORKS: Protecting Your PDM Vault

There are many different backup strategies and related tools for company resources out there.

Backing up and being able to restore your SOLIDWORKS PDM Vault can often be more important than most of your company systems for a few reasons. First, it often stores and controls access to most if not all your company’s critical intellectual properties.

In addition, these files are often a work in progress and any interruption or extended downtime can translate to lost productivity and missed target dates. Finally, unlike most shared drive files, there can be extensive amounts of history for these files documented in SOLIDWORKS PDM that would be difficult if not impossible to recreate.

Setting Recovery Goals

A good place to start when creating a backup strategy is to set some goals or parameters.

  1. Budget: How much are you willing to invest in backup. It is probably useful to establish a cost associated with catastrophic loss. What would it cost to recreate files, data, systems with your current strategy even if it is no strategy? How much manpower would this take and what type of opportunity cost does this create for tasks that must be set aside?
  2. Recovery Time: How long under the current system would it take to restore your system, files and data to working order? What would that down time cost to staff, customers and other operations? What would be a realistic goal for recovery time under a new strategy?
  3. Risk: Given budgets and potential losses, how much risk are you willing to accept? Given unlimited resources, risk can be almost completely avoided. Unfortunately, this is not most of our realities, so unless the situation is life and death, we accept some degree of risk and try to budget within that reality.

What do I need to Recover PDM completely after a system loss?

PDM has a few working parts. When you check in a file through the interface it navigates your licensing, permissions and settings, coordinates with a database and interacts with a file archive. In order to reconstruct or restore your SOLIDWORKS PDM System. You would need the following backed up files in addition to your SQL Server and PDM installation files.

  1. SQL Databases: Consiomasterdb and any databases associated with the vaults to be recovered. Each vault has it’s own database and their names are often a close match to the vault name. SQL Standard customers (SOLIDWORKS PDM Professional), will have the capability to create a maintenance plan that runs regularly to back up these databases.
  2. Archive File Directory. This is where your files stored for PDM. A default installation would put them in C:\programs files\Solidworks PDM\Data\. This is essentially a windows folder structure that should be considered along with your overall server backup plan. Given the critical nature of PDM you may want to ensure that you can separate recover the PDM file set quickly without having to wait for the entire server to be recovered.
  3. An archive configuration file backup (Backup.dat). This has user information and custom settings that you will want to restore to eliminate the need to reconfigure your vault from default settings. There is a tool in the PDM software on your server that manages a backup schedule for this very small file. You will want to make sure that your Archive Server Configuration Tool is running in the system tray for scheduled backups of this file to run.

Restore Considerations

Before attempting a restore, I would suggest you get your VAR involved to guide you through the process. If you think you lack the internal resources for the project you may wish to hire them for hands on assistance. There are a few considerations to keep in mind when restoring SOLIDWORKS PDM from backups.

  1. Seek Counsel from Experts before acting.
  2. The timing of your backups is crucial to your backup strategy. Data must match with files and configuration for a properly restored SOLIDWORKS PDM system. If your databases are a day behind your files for example, the SOLIDWORKS PDM interface will not show you any file information that occurred from the time of the backup and yet files or versions may exist that users have no access to.
  3. As always follow Solidworks Instructions for the specific details of any SOLIDWORKS PDM related task. Backup and recovery will be covered in the Installation guide that comes with your software and by default is located in C:\program files\solidworks pdm\lang\gb.

 

 

Terry Griffith
Inflow Technology

 

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