Reference File Locations (MSWP#3)

This article continues our Maximizing SOLIDWORKS Performance series.  If you would like a little background information please refer to the first article in the series Maximizing SOLIDWORKS Performance (Results).

This article is describing one of our "side tests".  Some of our tests, including this one, while being run with the same methodology as all of the others did not fit the general flow of the over all testing.  This test was run to show the negative impact of a seldom used system option (reference file locations) that can have dire consequences.

The good new about reference file locations is that most people are not using them and those who are using them are generally using them correctly.  This was a much more prolific problem a few years ago.  Reference file locations is a way to help ensure that SOLIDWORKS is going to find the files that it needs for a particular assembly that might be stored other locations in an environment usually a network location.  When an assembly opens and the Search file locations for external references option is checked, SOLIDWORKS searches all of the folder in the reference documents list as set in System options|File locations.

Reference1 
Reference2 
 
While in our specific environment the detrimental affect on performance was not huge, I have seen this situation affect customers to the point of paralysis. 

Reference3 
Results:

  • Opens 22% slower costing ~3 ½mins
  • Rebuilds 14% slower costing ~21mins
  • Switching sheets 20% slower costing ~11mins
  • Saves 13% slower costing ~8mins
  • Modeling 23% faster saving ~16 ½ mins

 Total:

  • 6% slower costing ~29mins

The most important thing to notice about these results is that the modeling sections ran 23% faster than the baseline.  If you think about this you will probably come up with the same conclusion I did.  There is no reason to believe that that is real.  There is no reason that the modeling sections should have been affected in the least by these system option.  I believe that this must have been some kind of fluke in our testing.  All of the other results are just as we would have expected; or at least, within a reasonable margin of error.

The key here is to remember that the reference file locations options should be used in very special circumstances and your VAR should be contacted to discuss all of your options. If there are alternatives that allow you to avoid this course they can assist you in finding them.

Adrian Fanjoy

Technical Services Director

Computer Aided Technology, Inc.