Autodesk Vault Vs Windows Explorer – File Management

Compare Autodesk Vault to using windows explorer
Compare Autodesk Vault to using windows explorer

Autodesk Vault Vs Windows Explorer - File Management

In the first post of the Autodesk Vault vs Windows Explorer Blog Series, we take a look at the differences between Autodesk Vault and Windows Explorer when it comes to file management and how users store, find files, create files and folders.

File Management

Windows Explorer File Management Processes and Techniques

When managing CAD or BIM data using AutoCAD, Inventor or Revit in a Windows Explorer, Network Server or even Cloud Storage environment, users typically:

  • Store data in folders
  • Sort data or projects by folder
  • Descriptive filenames that are complex and long are used to understand what the file is and what it contains
  • Find files by clicking through folders and sub-folders or searching by file name
  • Have a centralised library of content center files, xrefs, blocks, templates, etc.
  • Create multiple ipj files (for Inventor) to manage projects or isolate project specific files
  • Updating files and the file metadata on a batch scale using 3rd party tools, such as Inventor task scheduler

Windows Explorer File Management Challenges

Using Windows, users experience the following challenges:

  • Complex folder and sub-folder structures based on agreed upon rules or company standards
  • Understanding what a filename means to know what the file contains
  • Having to open the file or multiple files to find the right file/s.
  • Managing folder and filenames characters when the 255 character folder/filename limitation becomes an issue
  • Wasting time looking through folder structures to find the ‘correct’ file
  • Understanding which files reference the file you want to modify.
  • If there are duplicates, which file is the right file.
  • Using files across projects. In an Inventor environment, doing this while managing ipj files and reference errors can also become challenging.
  • Renaming or updating files on a batch scale can be laborious 
  • The time it takes windows to search and find the files is time consuming
  • Windows finds other files that may not be related
  • You can’t see the metadata or file properties that are stored within the CAD file
  • Unless the filename includes the version or revision, it’s difficult to understand if it’s the latest file
Autodesk Vault vs Windows Explorer - searching for a file side by side comparison
Autodesk Vault vs Windows Explorer - Side by side comparison when searching

Vault File Management

Using a SQL database, Vault managing folder and file entries, queries and file attributes, changing the way files are managed from relying on manual standards, file naming and folder structure procedures to leveraging file metadata and visualisation.

Using Vault, users can still use traditional folder and file naming methods to find files or by using advanced searching criteria, metadata and visualisation, users can the right file.

In the scenario below, we know the file name contains 558, it’s an ipt file and who created it, so by using this criteria, we can filter through the folder structure very quickly to isolate which file/s we are looking for. Search results can also be saved for future use too.

Autodesk Vault explorer user interafce
Autodesk Vault Explorer User Interface

Folder Management

Like Windows, using the Project Explorer interface, users can create folders, sub-folders and (also new files) also use numbering schemes, Vault properties, datasheet, categories, version controls and lifecycles to manage the folder and its contents.

Tools to find the right file in Vault

Now that we have found what files have met the search criteria, amongst other tools in Vault, we can use these tabs to give us more insight into the file:

  • Search Results – view the results, file category, stage, compliance and any other associated metadata you want to view
  • Properties – displays all the properties associated with the file
  • History – provides an thumbnail, it’s version, revision, historical state and other meta data
  • Where Used – Lets you know which files are referencing the selected file before you start editing it and making changes to the file.
  • View –  without needing to open the file, a user can view a 3D model (pan, rotate & zoom) or 2D drawing, measure, see markups, create cross sections and utilise all the other tools available in the Autodesk Viewer that is used in other Autodesk management tools such as Fusion Teams and Autodesk Construction Cloud.
Autodesk Vault saved search Moving at the Speed of Business
Autodesk Vault - View tab lets you preview a 3D model in Vault
Autodesk Vault visualisation viewer lets you preview the model in 3D before opening it
Autodesk Vault - View tab lets you preview a 3D model in Vault
Autodesk Vault - where used allows users to understand where the file is being used as a reference
Autodesk Vault - Where Used Tab lets you see which other files are referencing the selected file

Autodesk Vault File Management Video

Watch the video below to see how easy it is to find files in Autodesk Vault.

Learn More about Autodesk Vault

Autodesk Vault can be deployed on-premise or cloud. To learn more about Autodesk Vault click one of the buttons below.

Free 90 Day Vault Trial

If you are interested in trialling Vault or just want to discuss your data management requirements further, feel free to fill out the form below or contact us on 1800 490 514,, by live chat or fill out the form below.

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