gCADPlus and OneDrive

Most modern Windows computers come pre-loaded with a free tool called OneDrive enabling file storage in Microsoft’s cloud. OneDrive is also available on the Mac, but only for later versions of the operating system.

The free version of OneDrive is limited to 5 Gigabytes of storage but that’s not a lot of space for the number and size of CAD drawings that professional landscape designers create. However, if you do purchase a subscription to Microsoft Office 365 you get access to a massive 1.0 Terrabyte of storage space. You can then store many CAD drawings as you like. In addition, it is possible to do some clever things with gCADPlus and applications in Office 365 such as Excel, Access, and Word  – exporting plant schedules, rearranging columns, etc.,

gCADPlus data exported to Excel
The benefits of using OneDrive

With OneDrive, files are synced between your computer and the cloud. You can access your files from any device – your computer, your mobile device, and even via the OneDrive website –  [OneDrive.com]. Once OneDrive is set up, if you add, change, or delete a file or folder in your OneDrive folder, the file or folder is added, changed, or deleted on the OneDrive website and vice versa. As an additional bonus, you can also work with your synced files directly in File Explorer and access files when you’re offline. Whenever you’re online, any changes that you or others make will sync automatically.

Microsoft would suggest that you have confidence in OneDrive, put all your CAD work in one folder with many subfolders, connect it to OneDrive and all will be fine. To set it up, use FileExplorer, find the folder copy it to OneDrive, right-click on it, and paste.

Tip: Make sure to set the new OneDrive folder such that the files are always kept on the device on your computer as shown below.

We have tested this approach quite exhaustively over a week and have been surprised by how well OneDrive works with CAD files.

Relying on OneDrive for CAD – some drawbacks

As a gCADPlus user, it is very important to understand the implications of choosing to work with CAD files in OneDrive. We have emphasized many times that CAD files are precious. It is common to stay on a single design file for days on end. If you lose that file, much valuable work is lost.

If you work exclusively in a OneDrive folder, any change to a file is immediately transmitted to OneDrive over your network connection when that drawing is saved. So if your file is accidentally corrupted, or maliciously encrypted, OneDrive will still pick up that change.  The synchronized copy of the file in OneDrive will now also be corrupted or encrypted.

Admittedly, after an inadvertent deletion error, the file is available in your local computer’s Recycle Bin (or Trash on a Mac) and temporarily available inside the Recycle Bin of your OneDrive.com portal on the web. However, if your Recycle Bin is emptied after deletion, or if the web-based Office 365 Recycle Bin is emptied after deletion – the item is permanently lost.

There’s an interrelationship between what gCADPlus controls and what OneDrive controls. OneDrive interacts with a local “cache” of your drawing files on your computer. This arrangement optimizes the speed of file operations. When you open or save a file, gCADPlus operates the same as opening and saving your files to your local hard drive. Then, after you save your changes, OneDrive will save back or “sync” your changes to your cloud account. This is not under the control of gCADPlus. OneDrive will sync your recent saved changes to the cloud after you close the drawing. Until you close the drawing, your changes exist only on your local machine’s OneDrive cache. Microsoft holds all your drawing data so you will need to keep your subscription up to date.

A recommendation for gCADPlus users

Rather than work directly with OneDrive, we suggest working with CAD files in a local folder just as you were prior to making the decision to use OneDrive. In the example below, we work in a folder called Tradgard on the local C: drive. This folder is not connected to OneDrive. We make a folder on OneDrive called TradgardBackup and at the end of the day or end of a sustained design session, we copy the changed work files in the local Tradgard folder to this backup folder.

Operate gCADPlus and store files in this local folder
We operate from this local folder and copy it to a backup folder in OneDrive at the end of a session.
Some caveats

The figure below compares the standard installation of gCADPlus against an installation of gCADPlus with drawing files being managed by OneDrive.

This movie compares the two different methods of working.