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Things to Consider when Downloading SOLIDWORKS 2021

Tuesday October 6, 2020 at 9:21am

SOLIDWORKS 2021 is now available for download but before downloading there are things that may need to be considered before updating your software. Below we have listed some of our FAQs to answer any queries you may have. If you have a question that isn't on the list below, please contact our technical team by emailing them via or call us on 01926 333 777.

Are there any changes to the System Requirements?

You should always consult the SOLIDWORKS official System Requirements and End of Life pages prior to any upgrade. Notable changes are:

  • SOLIDWORKS 2021 is not supported and will not install on Windows 7
  • SOLIDWORKS 2021 will be the last to support the SQL Server 2014 edition
Are there any changes to the Installation Process?

The installation process remains the same as prior releases, driven by the SOLIDWORKS Installation Manager wizard. Full documentation on the installation process can be found on the SOLIDWORKS Website.

When is the best time to upgrade the software?

As with any major software update you must consider the time to upgrade and plan accordingly. We would certainly not suggest upgrading the software midway through a major project or with deadlines looming. You should take care to backup any key data related to SOLIDWORKS- this includes the actual CAD files, Templates and standard documentation, shared data such as SOLIDWORKS Toolbox, and any databases associated with programs such as PDM or SOLIDWORKS Electrical.

You should also consider who you work with- i.e. suppliers and customers. SOLIDWORKS 2021 files cannot be opened in a fully editable format in older versions so this could hinder any collaborative projects you have with external parties. Also consider if your company operates over multiple sites, as you would want to schedule the upgrade to happen in a way that has the entire team updated at the same time. If you are running a floating/network license, you also need to update the Network License Manager and reactivate so that the client machines can retrieve a license. This is available via the download by running the “Server Products” option on the first screen. The final consideration is any of the add-on products to SOLIDWORKS- i.e. PDM, PCB, Electrical etc. These products also need to be updated to be aligned with the SOLIDWORKS version and you may therefore need to back up the data and database, before installing the necessary server and client based programs. Due to this software being Server based you may need to co-ordinate the upgrade with your IT department to ensure access and access rights. Add-on products may extend beyond the SOLIDWORKS portfolio, and may be managed by a different supplier entirely as a 3rd party plug in. Check compatibility of these with SOLIDWORKS 2021 as you may need to either wait, or obtain a new version/license file. Solid Solutions have also created bespoke add-ins/programs for many of our customers- there may be a need to have these reconfigured for a new release. This may or may not carry an addition consultancy charge depending on whether the bespoke program carried its own support and subscription contract.

If you are using any of the SOLIDWORKS PDM Products (Manage, Professional or Standard) we would strongly encourage logging a support ticket with our team before you plan to undertake the upgrade. This will allow us to provide specific upgrade advice based on what we know about your implementation and communicate any key changes to System Requirements or Licensing Policies. Please note our support team are unable to carry out the upgrade for you, so if you are interested in using our services to plan, manage and carry out the upgrade please contact us for a quotation.

Whilst not feasible for all customers, setting up an isolated testing environment is encouraged. This will allow a single machine to be updated to the new version purely to test the key functions you rely on day to day. This could involve copying a dataset to work on in this isolated environment and ensuring these key functions are producing the end results you expect. Any differences could relate to a software function and so this would also be a chance to consult the new version documentation that is available in the SOLIDWORKS Help, under the "What's New" section.

What IT permissions do I need to upgrade the software?

We would always recommend the installation to be done whilst logged in as a local or domain level administrator. A user with Admin rights may not be sufficient. The program normally asks for a reboot on completion. Ensure after the reboot you log back in as the same user (admin) that conducted the initial installation for the process to fully complete.

Should I keep, or remove the older versions of SOLIDWORKS?

This is entirely a user choice. Having the old version available could be useful if you have projects on the go that require the older version. Older versions may be taking up valuable disk space so this could be a factor. Having both versions available for a period of time may be useful if you suspect you are not getting the expected performance from your new release. There are certainly no licensing restrictions with having multiple installed versions of the software on the same PC.

What are some of the key files I need to backup prior to an installation?

All customers should be keeping regular backups of their key files. This will include standard templates, toolbox databases and the output data from SOLIDWORKS (parts, assemblies and drawings). For those using Product Data Management (PDM) Systems and other database driven systems (SOLIDWORKS Electrical and PCB), we strongly encourage customers employ backup schemes of the archive and databases- the software will not do this automatically for you. Some files (such as toolbox) will be upgraded with the new version install, and this process is not reversible so it is imperative you have a backup copy just in case.

What happens at the end of the Entrepreneur Program?

At the end of the 12 months licensing we have a number of options available to assist startup businesses and individuals transitioning from the SOLIDWORKS Entrepreneur Program. Throughout the program you will have access to our award winning support desk and be invited to free workshops designed to help you optimise you use of SOLIDWORKS and overall productivity. Typically a hardware startup company will budget 1-3 months to build functional prototypes and another 3-6 months to go from functional prototype to production.

Do I need a new license/serial key for the 2021 version?

Your license key will remain the same for SOLIDWORKS 2021. When the software is opened for the first time, you will be asked to reactivate the software which is a quick process to confirm your entitlement to the new release. You should however check any 3rd party add-ins you use with SOLIDWORKS firstly to ensure compatibility, but also to request any new license keys/files. For SOLIDWORKS licenses that use the Network license setup (SNL), again, the serial key remains the same, but the server software component needs to be upgraded and reactivated to allow client machines to use SOLIDWORKS 2021.

Is SOLIDWORKS 2021 available to Education customers?

At launch, SOLIDWORKS 2021 is only available for commercial licenses. For the Education customers, SOLIDWORKS 2021 should be available from May 2021.

When do Service Packs get released for SOLIDWORKS 2021?

Whilst the exact dates are unknown at time of the initial release, there are typically five service packs that get released after the SP0 launch. Looking back at past releases these are the rough timings:

  • SP00 – October 2020
  • SP01 – December 2020
  • SP02 – February 2021
  • SP03 – April 2021
  • SP04 – August 2021
  • SP05 – November 2021 (overlaps with the launch of SW 2022)
Can I open SOLIDWORKS 2021 files in older versions?

Parts and Assemblies saved in the SOLIDWORKS 2021 format can be opened in SOLIDWORKS 2020 SP5 in a simplified format with limited capabilities. To be fully compatible, all users should be on the new version. It would also be worthwhile checking your key customer and suppliers to coordinate your upgrade plans. For information on what can and cannot be done between versions, check this help topic on SOLIDWORKS Interoperability.

Are there any things I should check after the install is complete?

It is worthwhile reading up on the new functionality which can be accessed under the SOLIDWORKS Help Menu > What’s New. You should also review Tools > Options > File Locations and ensure that the folder paths are correctly set to valid SOLIDWORKS 2021 installation locations. This blog post outlines some of these checks as well as discussing how to optimise your system for the new release.

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