How To Avoid Common Issues When Downloading SOLIDWORKS And Ways Around Them
Some things in life should be easy. Downloading software is one of them. Navigate to a website, find the download section, pick the desired software and download it. Unfortunately, it’s rarely that straightforward. This blog will address the most common problems which can hinder a SOLIDWORKS download, and how to get past those roadblocks.
It’s no secret SOLIDWORKS is a high-end software program. It can be very technical and often requires help from experts. For this reason, there is an annual subscription contract that includes technical support and software updates. I will bypass the sales pitch extolling the virtues of being on an active subscription or “maintenance” contract (as it is sometimes referred to) for the sake of brevity. Let’s just say it is highly recommended. A subscription contract is also required in order to download software.
A quick hypothetical situation. See if you can guess the answer. Your company is running SOLIDWORKS 2018. Your company’s subscription contract expired on November 30th, 2018. A new hire needs to run SOLIDWORKS 2018 on a new computer, but nobody ever downloaded a full set of installation files for that version. Since the company is entitled to run 2018 per the contract, can they download the software from the SOLIDWORKS website?
If you guessed “no”, you are correct. If the subscription contract has expired, downloads are not allowed. Period. The only options are to renew the subscription contract or find somebody who has previously downloaded the version you need who will share it with you.
How To Find Out If A License Is On Subscription?
This is an easy question to answer. Open SOLIDWORKS and click on the Help menu. Earlier versions of SOLIDWORKS actually had a pull-down menu named Help. Starting with version 2020, the Help menu is accessible by clicking the question mark, shown in Image 1. In the Help menu, select Licenses > Show…, and look at the date in the Maintenance Expires column. That is your subscription end date.
The SW Customer Portal
This is where the download links are. The easiest way to get to the SW Customer Portal is to start at the main SOLIDWORKS website. The address is about as easy as it gets; www.solidworks.com.
Once you are at the main SOLIDWORKS webpage, click the little human near the top right corner, shown in Image 2. A menu will open, allowing navigation to the SW Customer Portal. You will be asked to log in and… what? You don’t have a login user name and password yet? In that case, better hold on a moment. Let’s get you set up with a SOLIDWORKS ID.
Creating A SOLIDWORKS ID
This next bit is going to seem strange, and I admit, it is. If you already clicked SW Customer Portal and are faced with the login screen, don’t try to create your SOLIDWORKS ID there. Back right out of it. Close the webpage if you have to, then go back to the main SOLIDWORKS screen. Access the menu again, and this time, click MySolidWorks.
The vast majority of customers I have helped with this process have a much higher rate of success in creating a SOLIDWORKS ID by going through MySolidWorks rather than the SW Customer Portal. They are 2 different websites and they use different processes. I will not pretend to understand the technical reasons why this is, but I do know it is the case.
Once at the MySolidWorks webpage, click the “join” link shown in Image 3. You will need to supply your email and SOLIDWORKS serial number. Click Next and go with the flow. The rest should be self-explanatory, so I will not bother with those incidentals here. If you do not know your SOLIDWORKS serial number, please read on.
Finding Your SOLIDWORKS Serial Number
Remember that Help menu we talked about earlier? Access it again, and click About SOLIDWORKS…, found at the very bottom of the menu. Note the link which can be clicked to show the serial number. By the way, it is possible to copy the serial number by selecting it and pressing Ctrl-C. Paste it in when creating your SOLIDWORKS ID (Ctrl-V). This will greatly eliminate the possibility of human error. Plus, it saves you some typing. That’s a good thing, right? You will need to get rid of the spaces, though. Delete those out or you will get a warning about using an invalid serial number.
You have a subscription contract, your SOLIDWORKS ID has been created, and you’re ready to download SOLIDWORKS. Finally! Let’s get to it! Back to the main SOLIDWORKS webpage, click on that little human and select SW Customer Portal. The credentials you created via MySolidWorks will work for the SW Customer Portal, so go ahead and log in.
When the SW Customer Portal screen opens, there will be a number of categories, such as My Support, References, Download, and Community. “Downloads and Updates”, shown in Image 4, is what you want to click on to download SOLIDWORKS and related software.
F5 = Refresh
An extremely common problem is seeing a blank page when accessing the SW Customer Portal. If it doesn’t appear in a few seconds, and it looks like nothing else is happening, try pressing F5. This will refresh the screen and the webpage should appear.
Another extremely common scenario are padlocks on almost everything, including “Downloads and Updates”. If this happens, it is almost certainly because it is necessary to register. Right above the Download section is the My Support section. At the bottom of the My Support section should be an unlocked link titled “Register My Products”. That’s what you want to click on next. Enter your serial number and click Next. Again, you can copy your serial number from the About SOLIDWORKS window and paste it in here, saving you some typing. Here again, it won’t like the spaces, so get rid of those.
If presented with an option to select a specific version of SOLIDWORKS you wish to register, select the latest version you can, even if you are not using it. In other words, if you see options for SOLIDWORKS 2019, 2020, and 2021, select 2021. The thing about websites is they are constantly evolving, so you may not even see this option.
This is a more serious type of lockout, but it has nothing to do with finicky web pages or errors. It involves the ability to assign SOLIDWORKS serial numbers to specific individuals via the Admin Portal, which can be accessed on the MySolidWorks webpage. The Admin Portal link is shown in Image 5.
The problem usually manifests when attempting to register. A warning or informational message will appear stating access is not allowed, and you will need to contact your system administrator. Sometimes contact information is given, in which case, contacting that person should be your next objective.
The Admin Portal
The Admin Portal is deserving of a blog post all its own, so I will not go into detail regarding its use at this time. However, a quick introduction is in order.
For any given company that owns SOLIDWORKS software, a person associated with that company can create a SOLIDWORKS ID and gain access to the Admin Portal. If that person so chooses, they can declare themselves an administrator. The very first person from any given company who is a SOLIDWORKS customer, who has a SOLIDWORKS ID, and who has accessed the Admin Portal, will be granted this right.
Any administrator can invite coworkers to become members. Members can be assigned SOLIDWORKS “Products”, which are really just the serial numbers assigned to that product, which are then assigned to individual members. If a member is assigned a product, they can then register that product and download software.
Most problems arise from a person declaring themselves an administrator and then not following through with the duties which go along with that role. Thought should be given to who should be acting as Administrator, who should be invited as members, and who should be assigned products owned by the company.
Small companies who manage their SOLIDWORKS installations in an informal way never need to worry about the Admin Portal. It just isn’t necessary. The Admin Portal is intended more for larger companies who wish to have more control over their SOLIDWORKS user base and relegate who has the ability to download software within their company. There are other advantages to the Admin Portal, but they are not relevant to this discussion.
What To Do If The Administrator Is Unknown
Sometimes the Admin Portal Administrator is unknown, or they left the company without leaving behind contact information or login credentials. Sometimes a user assigns themselves an Administrator role without realizing the implications or duties this entails. The reasons vary. Regardless, if you find yourself in a position of not being able to download software, can’t register, and have no idea who your Admin Portal administrator is (and nobody else at your company knows either), you will need to contact your SOLIDWORKS VAR (Value Added Reseller). They will need to submit a service request to SOLIDWORKS Corp on your behalf. The VAR has no way to determine who the administrator is, as that data is held by SOLIDWORKS Corp and is kept confidential.
The last roadblock we will cover is related to web browser issues. More often than not, browser cookie settings hamper our ability to log in or access websites. This is probably more prevalent with the SOLIDWORKS websites due to the multiple websites having different underlying mechanics, processes, and database structures. To be quite frank, there’s a lot going on there! Not only is there the original webpage associated to the SW Customer Portal and the more recent website associated with MySolidWorks, there is also the 3DExperience webpages, platform, and “buildings” that make up that far-reaching, future-facing enterprise. It can be daunting, to say the least!
If you find yourself getting “Access Denied” error messages or other cryptic browser messages that seem out of place or don’t make sense, the first thing you should do is clear your browser cookies. This blog can’t give instructions for all browser types, but it will give instructions for Google Chrome.
Start at the main SOLIDWORKS webpage (www.solidworks.com), and click the small lock to the immediate left of the address bar, shown in Image 6. You should see a menu that will show how many cookies are in use. Select the “Cookies” menu item.
A window will appear showing a list of all the cookies from that website. Delete them all by selecting a row and clicking the Remove button. Just keep clicking Remove and then click Done when finished. It’s a very simple process.
Next, click the lock again and this time select “Site settings”. A new Chrome tab will open. Look for the button labeled “Reset permissions”. Click on it, then close the tab. Feel free to reload the SOLIDWORKS webpage at this point and try accessing the SW Customer Portal or MySolidWorks from the menu. If additional errors are encountered, repeat the process of deleting cookies and resetting permissions for that webpage.
If All Else Fails, Go Incognito!
On rare occasions, when websites are being particularly persnickety, there is one last option that almost always works. Chrome (and other browsers as well) have a mode called “Incognito”. When this mode is invoked, no cookies are used, no login info is saved, and you are accessing the page in a (mostly) anonymous fashion. To access this mode in Chrome, click the three dots in the very top right corner of the browser window. Select “New Incognito window” from the menu, as shown in Image 7.
You should now be able to access the main SOLIDWORKS webpage and navigate to wherever you need to go. If that still fails? Try accessing downloads from a different computer. Your corporate firewall or network security may be blocking access. Keep in mind you can download the SOLIDWORKS installation files from any computer, then transfer them to where SOLIDWORKS needs to be installed. The next, and final section, will discuss this process.
Downloading The Installation Manager
You’re at the SOLIDWORKS website, have accessed the menu, clicked SW Customer Portal, log in, and everything looks great. Next, click “Downloads and Updates”, and the Downloads page appears, shown in Image 8. Select the desired version from the small drop-down menu and click the “SOLIDWORKS Products” link to the left of the desired service pack (typically, the most recent one).
It will be necessary to accept the download agreement and then there is one final page that appears where it is necessary to click “Download”, but that’s it. Or is it? A file named “SolidworksSetup.exe” will be downloaded to your computer. It should reside in your Downloads folder and will be somewhere around 33 megabytes in size. Seems almost too easy, doesn’t it?
The file which was just downloaded is nothing more than the Installation Manager. Even though it has a very generic name, it is keyed to whatever version was selected on the first “Downloads” page shown in Image 8. If SOLIDWORKS 2019 Service Pack 3 had been selected, the file would still be named “SolidworksSetup.exe”, but it can only be used to download SOLIDWORKS 2019 Service Pack 3. This can be confusing, so it’s best to delete the “SolidworksSetup.exe” file from your Downloads folder when you are finished with it.
After double-clicking “SolidworksSetup.exe” to run it, the next thing you will see is a WinZip self-extractor window, shown in Image 9. Click Unzip to extract the Installation Manager files and run the Installation Manager. The WinZip window will close on its own.
It’s Nice To (Download And) Share
After the Installation Manager is done opening, the following screen will appear, shown in Image 10. You did say you wanted to download SOLIDWORKS, right? Well, this is where the rubber hits the road. There is a confusing aspect to this, so please grant me a few more moments to elaborate.
Regardless of what is selected, such as “Install on this computer” or “Create an administrative image”, files will be downloaded. It may not be a full download, though. It will only pertain to your selection, and it is dependent on what currently exists on your computer, such as a prior installation.
It’s time for another question. Let me ask you this; wouldn’t it be nice to have a full download so you could do whatever you wanted without worrying about future downloads? Heck yes, it would! Give me the whole kit and caboodle! I want it all!
That is exactly what you will get if “Download and share all files” is selected. I cannot stress how convenient and important it is to have a full file set that can be archived and used at some future point in time. It can be used to install SOLIDWORKS Standard, Pro, or Premium, repair existing installations, install network products, the license manager, PDM vaults, create administrative images, install Simulation, CAM, and so on. It can be shared among coworkers and used to install SOLIDWORKS or related products on as many computers as needed. Standalone licenses or network licenses make no difference. It’s all there.
So Then, What Option Are You Going To Choose?
Assuming you selected “Download and share all files”, and assuming we stick with the version used in Image 10, and also assuming no other changes were made to additional options which we have not shown in this blog, the result will be a new folder in your Windows Documents folder with all the installation files contained therein. Specifically, the path will be “C:\Documents\SOLIDWORKS Downloads\SOLIDWORKS 2022 SP0.0”. The size of the folder and its contents will be around 16 Gb. The entire “SOLIDWORKS 2022 SP0.0” folder can safely be moved to a more preferable location, should you choose to do that. Just make sure to move it before installing software, and not after.
To install the software, run Setup from within that same folder. The same image as that shown in Image 10 will appear. This time, pick whatever you want, such as “Install on this computer”. Nothing will need to be downloaded, because that part is done.
Now you know how to download SOLIDWORKS. Happy Modeling!
Need More Help With Your SOLIDWORKS Install?
Our Team Will Work With You Until Any And All Problems Are Resolved