In short: Fusion 360 is a cloud-based software in some areas.
What is the ‘Cloud’?
The “cloud” is a series of servers that are accessible over the internet. At a very basic level, the cloud can be thought of as a very large computer system that you are able to store your data on or use when your own computer isn’t powerful enough. Many of us use cloud storage with Microsoft OneDrive, Google Drive, iCloud Drive, and Dropbox. Autodesk Drive is the equivalent solution that you receive access to when you create a general Autodesk account.
How is Fusion 360 Cloud Based?
As cloud-based software, all of your data and information is stored on Autodesk Severs, and accessed from within Fusion 360 through an internet connection. All of your files are stored in the cloud and none of your models will be stored locally on your computer. However, your data is not the only information stored on the cloud. For example, your license to Fusion 360 is also stored in the cloud and linked to your account. Fusion 360, does not use serial numbers or codes. Instead, when you buy a license, it is linked to your account. When you are asked to log in within Fusion 360, your license type is pulled from your account, and you are given the appropriate access.
How does Fusion 360 Take Advantage of the Cloud?
The reason that you can use Fusion 360 on any computer, at any time, is that your license is automatically downloaded from the cloud when you log in and all of your data is ready to be used at all times! In addition, you can always access your data using the Fusion Teams online portal. You can view your 3D models, drawings, and more in the Teams portal, but more importantly, you can share a public link to a file with a client to allow them to view the 3D model you have prepared. In addition, Educational users can make use of Fusion 360 online, where you can use Fusion 360 in your The browser lists objects in your design (everything from planes and sketches to parts and assemblies). Use the browser to make changes to objects and control visibility of objects. More rather than downloading the software at all! A blog outlining this feature will be published in the future, but in the meantime, if you want to know more, talk to us on the PDO community forums!
With everything stored in the cloud, collaborating on a design with your colleagues is much more streamlined. You can avoid using a shared USB stick when working with Fusion 360 by adding your teammates to your Fusion Team and giving them direct access to the files stored on the cloud. Not only can you adjust permissions to ensure that only the right people can access your designs, but you can also leave comments, and store other files (such as word documents, PDFs, and more) in your Fusion Team. In addition, Fusion 360 automatically recognizes when one of your teammates has a file open and has unsaved changes, warning you if you try to open it yourself, preventing duplicate files or teammates from overwriting each other’s hard work!
A great example of the way that the cloud lets you collaborate in Fusion 360 are when generating manufacturing toolpaths for a CNC mill or lathe. The use of Cloud-based tools, machines and post-processor libraries allows you to keep up to date with the latest post-processor, or use only the most up-to-date tools that your machine shop technicians have available in the workshop! Each of the programs will no longer be different due to the use of different post-processor versions across the team!
Fusion 360’s rendering workspace makes use of Cloud servers to compute your renders. By completing renders on the cloud, you are reducing the burden on your local computer. Your information is sent to the Autodesk Cloud Servers, where your render is completed before the final image is sent back to your device. Not only does this reduce the need for a powerful computer to computer the renders, but it also allows you to massively increase your efficiency. By sending renders to the cloud, you can complete as many renders as you like at once rather than needing to do them one at a time. Alternatively, you can start a cloud render and get on with other work in Fusion 360, while the render runs in the background, something not possible with a local render.
Simulation & Generative Design
Both Simulations and Generative Design make use of the Autodesk Cloud servers in the same way that photorealistic renderings do! Generative Design in particular is a hugely complex and processing-heavy simulation that would not be possible on the majority of consumer-level computers without the use of the cloud!
Do I Need to be Connected to the Internet?
Fusion 360 is designed as an online-oriented software and is optimized for use while connected to the internet. However, you can still use Fusion 360 in an offline mode. Offline mode allows you to make changes to your designs, with any saves to your design being uploaded once an internet connection is re-established.
It should be noted that you will need to connect to the internet at least once every 14 days in order for Fusion 360 to verify that you still have a valid license. You can learn more about Fusion 360’s Offline Mode from our video about it, or from our video: 10 Questions Fusion 360 Beginners Always Ask!
Do I Still Own My Data?
While your data is stored within the Autodesk Cloud servers, it is completely your data. You have full ownership of your designs and ONLY you (or people that you allow) can gain access to your designs and data. On top of this, Autodesk takes its data security very seriously and is continuously working to ensure that your data is stored securely and safely! If you want to read more about Autodesk’s Data Security and policies you can find them here: https://www.autodesk.com/trust/overview
How do I start using the cloud?
If you have used Fusion 360 before, it is very likely that you have already used the cloud! You don’t have to do anything special in order to use the cloud for data storage and design work. If you plan to conduct renders or any simulations other than the linear stress simulation, you will need to purchase flex tokens, which can be spent in return for computing your renders and simulations on the Autodesk Cloud Server (although education users currently get free, unlimited use of the cloud!). All you need to get started with the cloud in Fusion 360 is an Autodesk Account and the Fusion 360 application on your computer!