Simulating Network Environments (CAD Manager’s Toolbox)

24 Mar, 2008 By: Robert Green

In the first edition of CAD Manager's Toolbox, I talked about using the DOS SUBST command to emulate network drives to test how your CAD packages would perform on networks. Since I posted that tip I've received a few questions that merit digging back into the Toolbox for a few more ideas.

Portable drives. A few readers pointed out that simulating a network drive could be done just as easily with a portable hard drive, or even a thumb drive. As long as the portable device has enough room to store the required files, then have at it! The only problem I've ever experienced is getting the right drive letter assigned to the portable drive. Here's a tip you can use to get the portable drive assigned correctly:

Step 1. Create a shared folder on the portable drive.

Step 2. Map the shared folder to a drive name of your choosing (or use the DOS SUBST command).

Note: Your portable drive will now show up as two logical drives on your computer: One assigned when the drive was plugged in and the other assigned by you in the step above.

Step 3. Test as normal.

Permissions emulation. Another part of simulating a network environment is determining how to set network permissions. The real network will have a combination of read-only and writable folders, so this should be a key part of testing your networked CAD deployment.

Method 1. If you use the network share/assign methodology I outlined above, your portable drive is now actually a network drive. You may now use conventional network security controls to experiment with the permissions. The only drawback to this approach is that you have to be comfortable with network security controls.

Right-click on a network folder, then use the Securities tab to set permissions characteristics for the folder, subfolder, and files.

Method 2. Since most CAD security on networks is a matter of having wide-open control (being able to read, write, and modify files) or read-only control (no writing, overwriting, or deleting), you can likely emulate the process using read-only attributes.

Right-click on a network folder to set general properties to Read-Only permissions characteristics.

As you press the Apply button, you'll be prompted for whether you wish to make just the folder read-only or make all folders, subfolders, and files read-only. Typically I use the latter to restrict rights to the entire folder.

When applying attribute changes you can choose to change just the folder or all its contents.

Now you can emulate network functionality on a temporary or substituted drive and really know how your CAD applications will behave without having to actually connect to the network. This is a great way to isolate your development and testing from the production network and also a great way to take your work home with you via a laptop for remote office work or even the occasional weekend work session.

Do you have a suggestion/tip that should be in the CADMan's Toolbox? Send it to me at, and you might get a cool Cadalyst souvenir if I use your idea.

About the Author: Robert Green

Robert Green

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