Technical Support FAQ: Upgrading SOLIDWORKS

Upgrading SolidWorksThe best way to ensure SOLIDWORKS runs smoothly on your computer system is with a clean install. Upgrading SOLIDWORKS installations is generally straightforward, but there are different approaches to the upgrade based on your situation. In this blog, we’ll take you through the things you should consider before upgrading, as well as some common issues that may arise along the way.

Before UpgradingSolidWorks Hardware Recommendations

Download our Hardware Recommendations for SOLIDWORKS guide to ensure your system has the required hardware for the version you’re upgrading to; every version has its own hardware requirements.

A few additional things to consider:

  • Is your PC or Laptop a workstation?
    • The software runs best on a SOLIDWORKS certified workstation.
  • Which video card and video driver are you using?
  • How much RAM do you have?
    • At a minimum, you should have 16 GB.
    • For the best performance, GSC recommends 32+ GB.
  • What is your operating system?
    • Windows Professional (Not Windows Home version)
    • Currently, SOLIDWORKS supports (subject to change)
      • Windows 7 SP1 64-bit only
      • Windows 8.1 64-bit
      • Windows 10 64-bit
  • Do you use any other software that works along with SOLIDWORKS?
    • Ensure the software is compatible with the new version of SOLIDWORKS.
    • Some third-party vendors do not stay current with each SOLIDWORKS release.

Ideal Install Environment

Now to create the ideal install environment. SOLIDWORKS integrates with and uses many different aspects of your operating system. Because of this, the install requires a few extra precautions to ensure all goes well.

  • Administrative Rights
    Each SOLIDWORKS user should have administrative rights for their machine. SOLIDWORKS CAD stores a lot of information in the Windows registry and requires the capability to make changes to files and folders when needed.
  • User Account ControlsUser Account Controls 
    This is a Windows permission control measure, and often causes issues with installs, even when a user has the appropriate administrative permissions. This should be set to “Never Notify.” (See image to right.)
  • Anti-Virus Software
    SOLIDWORKS maintains a list of Anti-Virus applications that should not cause issues during an install. Even if your software is listed, temporarily disabling the protection during installation can prevent many issues.

Multiple Versions

If needed, you can run multiple versions of SOLIDWORKS on a single machine. This can be helpful if you have a supplier using an older or newer version than you. Also, it doesn’t require an additional license. However, if you opt for a multiple-version environment, there are a few precautions to take:

Rename the default folders during install

When SOLIDWORKS installs multiple versions, it installs to <install_directory>\SOLIDWORKS (1), <install_directory>\SOLIDWORKS (2), etc. This can make it difficult to manage what you have on your system. On the summary page of the installer you can rename the install folder to include the year (e.g., C:\Program Files\SOLIDWORKS Corp 2017).

Or, if you’re using Toolbox, the same changes can be made to the SOLIDWORKS Toolbox directory. Typically, it will be named C:\SOLIDWORKS Data, but we suggest adding the year to the name (e.g., C:\SOLIDWORKS Data 2017).

This simple step will allow both installations to operate concurrently and help you avoid any confusion.

Test in a “Sandbox”

By testing the new release, you’ll better understand what to expect moving forward. Every company is different. What you test and how much you test will depend on your unique needs. At a minimum, GSC recommends testing two or three larger assemblies.

Setting up a “sandbox” is the safest approach. First, create a copy of the files you want to test; it’s very important to never test on current production files. The best approach is to install SOLIDWORKS on a test PC outside of production. We recommend the test PC and files be separated from the network to avoid any issues with accessing production files.

Once the test environment is set up, open the assemblies. Turn on “verification on rebuild,” which can be found in performance settings. Then, press Ctrl-Q to force a rebuild of the model once it opens. Look for any errors in the model tree. If errors are found, determine if they are present in the release you had been previously using and test with “verification on rebuild” turned on. You will want to understand how the models update into the new version and if the model generates errors. Contact GSC support if you receive consistent errors in the new release that are not present in the current version.

Most often, testing will go well. If you do get errors, they are usually minor and easily resolved.

Obtaining Software

There are two ways to obtain the software needed for install:

  • Request a DVD from SOLIDWORKS. SOLIDWORKS does still offer DVDs of the installation files upon request; however, this is the slowest method. With the speed of broadband internet, GSC recommends the download option whenever possible since the Internet is far faster than snail mail.
  • Check for updates. If you only need to upgrade one machine and don’t need to preserve the prior SOLIDWORKS version, the “Check for updates” feature may be your easiest option. It will identify if there is a newer version of SOLIDWORKS and, if there is, the program will walk you through the download and install. However, it’s important to note that this method isn’t recommended if you want to quickly upgrade multiple workstations, or if you’d prefer to customize the upgrade with an alternate installation directory as outlined above.
  • Customer portal download. The necessary files for upgrading SOLIDWORKS can also be downloaded from the customer portal, which can be especially useful when upgrading multiple machines. To access these files, you must have a registered customer portal account, and your account must be linked to a valid, active SOLIDWORKS license. You can register a new account if needed.Once the upgrade files have been downloaded, they can be placed on a shared network directory or copied to a flash drive for easy access when upgrading multiple machines.

Install Types

  • Standalone install. Good for 10 or fewer installations. Each workstation is installed individually, and all options/settings are set during install.
  • Administrative image. Good for more than 10 installations and multiple installs can be completed simultaneously. Install files are stored on the server in a shared location and can be launched from a shortcut. All options/settings are set for the image and can be defined by user or department.

Install Options

  • Upgrade. Use if switching from version to version. The software installs atop the existing installation to update the old version to the new version. When upgrading every year, it is recommended you complete an uninstall and reinstall every other year.
  • Install. Retains the old version to allow more than one version of the software on your system. For best results, install the new version in its own folder. GSC recommends using the version number to help keep things organized. Install Toolbox in its own location and upgrade separately, if needed.
  • Uninstall and reinstall. Starts fresh by removing the old version. For best results, remove the folder structure from the old version after uninstalling. Then, install the new version in its own folder and use the version number to help keep things organized.

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GSC fuels customer success with 3D engineering solutions for design, simulation, data management, electrical schematics, PCB, technical documentation, and 3D printing, as well as the most comprehensive consulting, technical support, and training in the industry. As a leading provider of SOLIDWORKS solutions, HP, and Markforged 3D printing technologies, GSC’s world-class team of dedicated professionals have helped numerous companies innovate and increase productivity by leveraging advanced technologies to drive 3D business success. Founded in 1989, GSC is headquartered in Germantown, WI. For more information about GSC, please visit