Considering how frequently installation questions arise during technical support cases, it needs to be discussed more frequently. Specifically, the fact that you can download SOLIDWORKS from any computer and use that file set to install the product anywhere. There is a particular technique to this, so I will discuss what you should do, as well as what you shouldn’t.
There are a couple different ways to get the latest version of the SOLIDWORKS software. For instance, you can…
Check for Updates
Use the SOLIDWORKS Help menu and click Check for Updates…
Image 1: Using the Help menu to check for updates.
Using the Check for Updates… command is easy enough, as long as you don’t try to update SOLIDWORKS while it’s running. That won’t happen if you use the Download and Share… option, which we will talk about shortly.
The Background Downloader
Image 2: The Background Downloader.
The Background Downloader runs by default after installing SOLIDWORKS. Automatically, it will periodically check for updates and will download updates with little or no input from you. If you let it download an update, the files which are downloaded are a partial file set. They are just enough to get your software up to a particular service pack. This is fine if you have a slow internet connection or only have one license of SOLIDWORKS. If, on the other hand, your company has multiple licenses, you are better off with the full file set, which allows for installing the software anywhere, on any computer. If you fall into this latter category, don’t use the Background Downloader.
By right clicking the Background Downloader icon, you can choose to alter how frequently it checks for updates (the default is every 2 days). You can also change where the downloads are saved. (Many SOLIDWORKS users do not do this, and have no idea where the files are downloaded to.) Lastly, you can choose to either Automatically Check for Updates, Automatically Download Updates, or Disable Background Downloader. This is often a personal preference. However, if your company has multiple users, or has an IT department and you will not be personally installing or updating SOLIDWORKS anyway, disable the background downloader. You have no reason to use it.
Download the Installation Manager
This method is the least problematic. You will need a SOLIDWORKS Customer Portal account. Using your favorite web browser, head to www.solidworks.com, log in to the Customer Portal, and click the link for Downloads and Updates:
Image 3: Downloads and Updates
Don’t have a Customer Portal account? You should, so go ahead and create one. Check out this blog for steps in creating an account. After clicking the Downloads and Updates link and navigating through the EULA, you’ll wind up with a file named “SolidWorksSetup.exe”. This is the compressed, self-extracting, self-executing version of the SOLIDWORKS Installation Manager. Run the file and the Installation Manager opens.
Image 4: The Installation Manager
If you used the Check for Updates command discussed earlier, you will also find yourself at this same screen, but you will not see this screen if you use the Background Downloader. This is a significant detail. If you want the full file set, you must use the proper method! Select the Download and Share… option shown in Image 4.
Just Download the Files Already!
Having all the files is so much better than doing a partial download. Granted, it’s a big download. As of SOLIDWORKS 2017 Service Pack 0, the download is 12.3 GB. But once you have the files, you can put them on a thumb drive and move them anywhere. Want to install at home but have an internet connection that runs like molasses in Siberia? Download the files at work and copy them to a flash drive. Does your entire engineering department use SOLIDWORKS and is in need of an upgrade? At your next meeting, decide who’s going to download the software so everyone doesn’t have to. Want to retain an archive of SOLIDWORKS installation files “just in case”? Download the full file set (rather than a partial download) and store the files on a server.
Now don’t you feel much better for having downloaded those files?