Loading multiple copies of 3ds Max or working or pulling assets (bitmaps, X-Refs) from drives across a corporate network may produce workflow slowdowns and possible data or user settings corruption.
Workflow slowdowns when using 3ds Max in a networked environment include, but are not limited to:
- Slow network speeds.
- Cloud storage devices and syncing issues.
- Slow storage devices on the network (lower-RPM hard drives) or unsupported storage devices, such as Network-Attached Storage (NAS) drives.
- Large numbers of assets (bitmap textures, xref files, proxy objects) being loaded across the network.
- Large files (both 3ds Max and assets, such as high-resolution bitmaps).
To speed up workflow when using 3ds Max in a networked pipeline, please note the following:
Use dedicated hard drives on server PCs or RAID devices, not Network-Attached Storage (NAS), or Storage Area Network (SAN) devices.
- NAS and SAN devices are not officially supported by Autodesk, since many are based on the Linux operating system and may have issues when running in a Windows environment. See Autodesk support for Network Attached Storage (NAS) and Storage Area Network (SAN) devices
Use UNC Paths.
- Whenever possible, set up network UNC paths instead of local paths to access scene assets (texture bitmaps, Xrefs, and so on.)
- In Windows operating systems, the UNC name format is: \\servername\sharename\path\filename.
- In 3ds Max, go to Customize > Preferences > Files > Convert File Paths to UNC. Then, enable the option to Convert File Paths to UNC.
Pull fewer assets from a network location.
- Open copies of 3ds Max will query loaded scene assets such as: Bitmaps, XRefs, final gather/global illumination maps, particle cache files, and so on, from the path locations set in both Configure User Paths window and the Asset Tracking menu.
- 3ds Max periodically checks files to see if they’ve been updated and need reloading. Having large numbers of assets pulled across a network or NAS can affect performance.
- Ideally, archiving the scene file, copying it to the user’s local machine and working with it there will ensure the best performance.
- If this isn’t possible, then optimize the 3ds Max Max scene files as much as possible by: Removing unnecessary bitmaps, consolidating similar materials, and checking the number and size of all bitmap textures used in the scene. See other optimization information here: How to optimize performance in large 3ds Max scenes.
Utilize shorter folder paths (lessen the number of subfolders for stored assets).
- 3ds Max will search through each folder specified in the Customize > Configure Project Paths > External Files menu. These settings are saved in the 3dsmax.ini file, located in C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Local\Autodesk\3dsMax\<version>\ENU folder until it finds (or doesn’t find) any missing assets. Longer paths containing many nested subfolders can increase file load times across a network setting, especially when these files are “missing” from the scene.
- To speed up the bitmap search process, try to consolidate as many scene bitmaps into as few folder locations as possible.
Do not use cloud storage folders, such as Google Drive, OneDrive, Box or Dropbox as shared, working repositories for scene assets and renders.
- See this Dropbox link and note the following: “Using referenced files in Dropbox: We strongly recommend against methods that add referenced files (symlinks, junction points, or networked folders) to the Dropbox folder. Using reference files can cause high CPU usage, poor syncing performance, permissions issues, and quota usage disparities.”
- Do not use Microsoft Azure Cloud Services for shared files (texture bitmaps, X-Refs) or as a “target” repository for renderings. 3ds Max is not configured for use with the Azure Cloud Service, and rendering directly to Azure Cloud Services folders may result in unacceptably long image save times.
Utilize Autodesk Vault and the built-in ‘Asset Tracking‘ tool.
- Vault Server acts as a central repository for files
- When editing files they are copied to the local working folder, offering a performance advantage over editing files on the network
- Files that are being edited by one user are locked for others by the “check out” process, preventing overwriting/lost work
Work with as few instances of 3ds Max open as possible.
Some artists may want to work with multiple open copies of 3ds Max on their machines. The more sessions of 3ds Max open on a machine, the greater the chance 3ds Max will run out of memory.
- Each session of 3ds Max saves user preferences to the same C:\Users/<username> folder location. The “final” user preferences saved are from the last version of 3ds Max closed. If the last version of 3ds Max crashes when closing, those user preferences will corrupt. Users must reset 3ds Max preferences to default.
- When finished working with a particular scene, close that 3ds Max instance instead of keeping it open on the local PC.
- Users working with multiple open copies of 3ds Max may run the risk of corrupting their user templates or workspace files. See this article for more information.
Save Auto Backup files to the local machine.
3ds Max periodically saves backup files, as set in the Customize > Preferences > Files > Auto Backup settings. In this menu, you can enable or disable this feature, change the Autosave interval times, and change the number of backups created at each interval.
- If the Auto Backup file location is on a shared network folder, large files and multiple sessions of 3ds Max will impair the local machine and the network.
- Ideally, check the 3ds Max scene file sizes, increase the Auto Backup interval (if necessary), and try to work “locally” as much as possible. Note: Saving Autoback scene files to a local folder, then archiving them (as per their company’s IT procedures) may be a preferable workflow.
- See more information on the Auto Backup function here.
Check for sufficient RAM and supported hardware on all workstation machines.
- Ensure the machines accessing the files have sufficient and supported RAM, graphics cards, and processors to manipulate larger files over a network setting.
- See System Requirements for minimum hardware required to run 3ds Max.
- Visit the Microsoft website and ensure the latest version of DirectX is installed.
Turn off Reload Textures on Change
If multiple artists are accessing the same 3ds Max scene files from a network repository, there should be no slowdowns on individual machines. However, long load times over a network could be caused by the FileWatch system in 3ds Max.
When loading a scene, 3ds Max will load the file into the program and then immediately “release it” at the original file location. If another artist opens that same file, it shouldn’t have any effect on any other artist working on that scene. However, if the file has bitmap textures, then a FileWatch is placed on the bitmap files. Multiple FileWatch events from the same open scene on different artist machines, each running its own copy of 3ds Max, may cause slowdowns.
If using the preceding workflow, go to Customize > Preferences… > Files tab > Reload textures on change and deselect this, especially if multiple artists are working with files sharing shared bitmap assets.
Note: Autodesk doesn’t specifically advise users to never run 3ds Max scenes across a network, or run multiple 3ds Max sessions on the same machine.
However, users should tailor their workflow to mitigate the preceding issues as much as possible, based on each individual machine’s RAM, the size of the .MAX files, the amount of resources each 3ds Max scene may be trying to pull across a shared network repository (bitmaps, X-Refs, and so on.), the number of users trying to access that repository, and the speed of the network hardware itself.