SolidWorks Tip: Time to upgrade!

October 23, 2006 7 Comments »
SolidWorks Tip:  Time to upgrade!

Sw07_splash It’s upgrade time this week for SolidWorks where I work.  I thought this would be a good time to discuss a few things to do in preparation of a major version upgrade in SolidWorks.  Not everyone’s upgrade preparation is the same since it can depend mainly on how many seats of SolidWorks you have and how many add-ins your company utilizes.  A large company with usually more than 5 seats can install SolidWorks using an administrative image.  This method along with some additional commands allows system administrators to automatically roll out the upgrades to users.  It can save LOTS of time!  This article is generally geared more towards manually upgrading machines so we won’t really get into that.  If you would like more information on administrative images, I recommend you contact your reseller or check out the SolidWorks Customer Portal.

There are a few things that need to be done before any software is touched.  If you have network seats of SolidWorks you want to make sure you have a new license file.  This can be requested through the SolidWorks Customer Portal or your reseller.  First and foremost, I HIGHLY recommend that you backup a few parts of your data.  A good place to start is to backup your SolidWorks directory under Program Files.  If you have created any new templates, added content to your design library, or customized other parts of your installation, most of the settings/files are stored here by default.  Now you may be saying to yourself that this doesn’t apply for you since your templates & design library is located on a network.  I still recommend this even when you think everything is on a network.  There are many areas of the software where you may have “tweaked” a setting or two and forgot about it.  Disk space is cheap and the folder size is usually well under 2 gigs.

If your company uses PDMWorks Workgroup, I also HIGHLY recommend that you back up your Vault prior to upgrading.  IT folks have some pretty slick ways to backup data these days.  It usually can be done pretty quickly and will give you extra piece of mind when upgrading the vault. (If your IT department can’t do this, an external hard drive can work really well too.)  If you use SolidWorks Toolbox, then that would be another area to backup. When you upgrade SolidWorks, the Toolbox database is updated as well.  If you have Toolbox installed on a network and it is used by multiple users, you need to make sure no one has SolidWorks open during the backup and the upgrade (more on that later.) Next, I run the copy settings wizard and capture any keyboard shortcuts, toolbar locations, menu customizations, and system options.

While it is possible to upgrade SolidWorks without un-installing the previous version, I still recommend a clean un-install of the old version prior to installing the new version.  This is the best case if you are ditching the old version and aren’t looking back.  If you need to have BOTH versions of SolidWorks on your machine, this is probably not the best route.  The un-install is done through the Add/Remove programs list and is pretty self explanatory.  Any additional components of SolidWorks such as E-Drawings, PDMWorks, COSMOS, etc. should be un-installed as well.  I also like to clean the registry (Make sure you have run the Copy Settings Wizard or you will lose many of your system preferences.)  In the registry, I delete all the SolidWorks folders under HKEY_CURRENT_USER and HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE. (PROCEED WITH CAUTION IN THIS AREA. I ONLY RECOMMEND YOU DO THIS IF YOU ARE COMFORTABLE WORKING IN THE REGISTRY. BACKUP THE REGISTRY PRIOR TO REMOVING ANYTHING.)

If you use network licensing, it usually works best to install the new license server software and license file prior to installing the client seats of SolidWorks.  If you are upgrading PDMWorks Workgroup, the vault upgrade can be done prior to or after upgrading the seats of SolidWorks. Keep in mind if you upgrade SolidWorks prior to updating the vault you won’t be able to access PDMWorks data through the new PDMWorks clients in SolidWorks or SolidWorks Explorer.  Make sure you have a complete list of all your SolidWorks serial numbers and registration codes prior to attempting ANY upgrades. A registration code is usually automatically generated during install if the seat has been previously registered with SolidWorks. (There is a new registration scheme for some users.  I cannot speak on that as my region is not part of this program yet.)

Although it is not “officially required”, I prefer to install everything using the SolidWorks 2007 CDs.  If you install using the downloaded version, you still have to put the CDs in the machine and run a utility prior to upgrading to the first service pack.  I have also found it best to HALT as much activity as possible related to SolidWorks during the upgrades.  You definitely don’t want anyone operating a seat of SolidWorks during a PDMWorks vault upgrade or SolidWorks Toolbox upgrade. (In a multi-user environment, Toolbox will be upgraded when the first seat of SolidWorks 2007 is installed.  Therefore, the Toolbox database must be completely closed with NO ONE accessing it.)  For many this could mean performing the upgrades late in the afternoon or evening.  The most important thing that you don’t want to forget is to DISABLE any virus scanning software on your machine during the installation of SolidWorks.  If you work for a larger company, you may have to get your IT group involved as some systems are setup so that virus scanning can’t be disabled without special permission assignments from the system administrator.

Once you have installed all your software, you can re-apply your custom settings by double-clicking the registry file that was created by the Copy Options Wizard earlier. Always go through your System Options and make sure all your settings are correct. It has been my experience that sometimes not all the settings make it through during the upgrade. With a little preparation and lots of backups, upgrades usually go very smooth and are fairly stress free. I hope this helps. Stay tuned……more to come!

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  • Chris Chastine

    Thanks for the great advice Ricky – good stuff, but it makes me wonder something. Even before the upgrade there is the process of testing the new software to see if it's ready to be implemented. Do you have a set of procedures you use to test the software?
    I typically try to time it so I start working on a new project while testing. That way I get some real world examples and can see how the new software handles it. Obviously this can't always be done since new projects don't always creep up at the most opportune time.
    So what do you do to test the software?

  • Chris Chastine

    Thanks for the great advice Ricky – good stuff, but it makes me wonder something. Even before the upgrade there is the process of testing the new software to see if it’s ready to be implemented. Do you have a set of procedures you use to test the software?
    I typically try to time it so I start working on a new project while testing. That way I get some real world examples and can see how the new software handles it. Obviously this can’t always be done since new projects don’t always creep up at the most opportune time.
    So what do you do to test the software?

  • thanks for the advice

  • thanks for the advice

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