Cost of opening files with missing links

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Few weeks ago I did a detailed write up about the benefits of compacting your Revit files, and how much time that could be saving. As I stated in that write up, the idea is that I will try and highlight a few low hanging opportunities for saving some money using data coming from Bimbeats.

Today, I wanted to have a quick look at missing links. These could be missing DWGs, IFCs, Revit Links etc. It doesn’t matter what file type we are talking about, if the resource moved, or was deleted Revit will complain about it being missing. The main issue here is that it still tries to load that resource every time you open the file. It usually doesn’t take it that much time to sort out that the resource is missing and just move on, but all of those seconds count, and at large organizations they add up.

Why are certain links missing?

There are couple of things that will contribute to this issue. First let’s cover why links go missing. Probably the easiest thing to resolve is to make sure that they are not loaded from user’s C:\Users\… location. That location is specific to that end user only, and no one else opening the file will have access to a DWG file linked from your own desktop. This should be an obvious “no-no”, yet you would be surprised how often it happens. For this example we are looking at a company of 100 users, just like in my last write up. For that company, in the last 90 days, 306 individual resources were linked in from a C drive location.

That’s not bad you might say, but then those 306 resources then went missing 5,132 times. What I mean by that is, if they were linked into a central files, then wherever a file is opened, that resource will be missing for everyone else.

There are probably other reasons why links go missing. They might have been simply moved or deleted as I have mentioned before. I picked resources loaded from C drive as an example here because they are the easiest one to explain to users. It’s also guaranteed to cause issues if you are loading things into the model from your own, personal space. People quit, get new computers assigned and then lots of things go missing. In general it’s not a good idea to do that. It’s not a good idea to save your Dynamo scripts to your desktop, or your Rhino files, just like it’s not a good idea to load links into Revit from your desktop. It’s just not.

What’s the impact?

For this medium sized company of 100 users, we looked at a total of time that a computer spends looking for these missing links for the last 90 days and got a nice cool number of $2,234.16 dollars that were wasted. You project that to a full year, and we are looking at almost $9,000 just in waiting for Revit to try and find all of these files that were loaded from your desktop, and now are missing. I used $200/hr for this calculation, and if your company charges more, then your saving might be even bigger.

Is there a solution?

What would I propose to be the solution here? You have a few options:

  • I would try and educate my staff to make sure they are not loading resources from their desktop/C drive locations. I know that it’s easier said than done, so I would have a backup plan.
  • My second option here would be a tool, a Revit plugin that catches when someone links a file from C:\Users\ path, and simply blocks it, or if we don’t want to be so drastic moves, that resource to the location of a central file (pretty easily done for local network files, a little more work for BIM360 but still possible), and resets the path. That way, that resource is then stored in a public location, and it won’t be missing for all other users. How much do linked DWGs and other kinds of resources slow down your files is a different story so I won’t be answering that here. Let’s just assume that it’s a critical DWG and it has to be linked into the file. Moving it to a place where everyone can access it can be a viable solution.

The plug

Now is the time for a shameless plug. Two things:

  • First, this analysis and many more are possible with a tool like Bimbeats. Go check it out at If you like it, reach out to me, and I will be happy to schedule a demo with you. Here’s my calendar.
  • Second, I am proposing a tool here, but unfortunately at the moment, it’s just an idea. Since I work as a consultant, and a software developer, if you think you would be interested in a tool like that, perhaps we can build it for you. Drop me a line at konrad [at] archi-lab [dot] net.
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