The 6 Golden Rules of Managing Data in SOLIDWORKS

Wednesday February 10, 2021 at 11:00am
When modelling in SOLIDWORKS, before you know it, you will have created lots of parts, assembly and drawing files, so it’s important to think about how you will manage these files and keep everything organised. Here we discuss the ‘6 Golden Rules’ of managing your SOLIDWORKS files using Windows Explorer and recommended methods for file naming, structuring your projects and managing revisions. This kicks off a month looking at the management of CAD data, register for one of our upcoming live webinars at the bottom of this article.
The 6 Golden Rules of Managing Data in SOLIDWORKS

1. Unique filenames

It is important to always use unique filenames for SOLIDWORKS files. It’s OK to name a drawing after the model as they are different file types, but if you have several files with the same name SOLIDWORKS may load the wrong one into an assembly or drawing leading to confusion and potential for error.

2. Avoid descriptive filenames

It’s hard to maintain unique file names if they are purely descriptive. What one person calls a ‘washer’ another may call a ‘spacer’ making filenames potentially very inconsistent and it difficult to find the right file quickly in Windows Explorer. Instead use SOLIDWORKS file properties to add a description property. Properties can be mapped to notes on a drawing border, displayed in a Bill of Materials part list and displayed as a ‘Description’ column in Windows Explorer.

3. Create a SOLIDWORKS folder

Create a SOLIDWORKS folder separate from the default install directories. Store all of your customised templates and optionally your SOLIDWORKS part, assembly and drawing files here. The SOLIDWORKS folder can be on your local machine or a shared location if you collaborate within a team of users. It’s easy to manage and back-up one SOLIDWORKS folder, it can be stored or mirrored to a shared location that you can point SOLIDWORKS to, and if you upgrade your SOLIDWORKS installation in the future there’s no danger of accidentally over-writing your customised templates as they are stored outside of the standard install locations.

4. Don’t store copies

Store your SOLIDWORKS files in one place if possible, your SOLIDWORKS folder. Having multiple copies of the same file in multiple locations leads to confusion over which is the correct version of that file and could lead to accidentally manufacturing to an old version. SOLIDWORKS looks in lots of different places to find and load the files used in an assembly or a drawing, so if it finds the wrong copy first you may end up with an older version loaded on screen.

5. Pack and go old versions

To store a previous version of a part or assembly, use Pack & Go. This allows you to safely rename, or add a prefix or suffix to any files that are being up-revisioned (e.g. -Rev01) whilst maintaining all of the references between files. With Pack & Go you can package the files in a zip file, and we recommend saving old revisions in a separate folder named ‘REVISIONS’ or similar to avoid confusion. You might consider simply saving a PDF copy of the drawing at each revision as a document of the drawing history, these are completely detached from the SOLIDWORKS files and can be stored in your ‘REVISIONS’ folder.

6. Avoid moving and renaming

If you must rename a SOLIDWORKS file use Windows Explorer SOLIDWORKS options (Found under your right mouse button) to do this whilst keeping all the file references intact. A SOLIDWORKS drawing or assembly will look for a part (or sub-assembly) by name and location, so renaming or moving a part (or sub-assembly) in Windows will break that reference. SOLIDWORKS will prompt you to browse for the renamed file and reattach it to the assembly or drawing, but this is very manual and could quickly become very confusing, so best to use Pack & Go!

Upcoming PDM Webcast Series

6 Golden Rules of SOLIDWORKS File Management
Broadcast Date: 15 Feb
Webinar Overview

When modelling in SOLIDWORKS, before you know it, you will have created lots of parts, assembly and drawing files, so it’s important to think about how you will manage these files and keep everything organised.

In this webinar we discussed the ‘6 Golden Rules’ of managing your SOLIDWORKS files using Windows Explorer and recommended methods for file naming, structuring your projects and managing revisions.

Why should you look to implement a Professional CAD Data Management System?
Broadcast Date: 22 Feb
Webinar Overview
Managing your SOLIDWORKS files/data manually using Windows Explorer can be done, but it does have its limitations. As products develop, assemblies become larger with more and more complex data sets. There is no fixed marker of when you should look to implement more secure and professional management systems, some say from the start, but there are indicators.
SOLIDWORKS PDM - Why Go Pro?
Broadcast Date: 01 Mar
Webinar Overview
Our next webinar in a series looking at managing CAD data we explored the key reasons companies choose to upgrade to SOLIDWORKS PDM Professional. Understand how you may develop your data management in the future with an upgrade to PDM Professional.
Introduction to SOLIDWORKS Manage
Broadcast Date: 8 Mar
Webinar Overview
Our penultimate webinar in our series looking at managing CAD data we explore SOLIDWORKS Manage, the powerful tool for managing CAD data, processes and project delivery. This set of advanced data management tools harness the file management capabilities of SOLIDWORKS PDM Professional and adds powerful project, process and record management capabilities including interactive dashboards and reports.
SOLIDWORKS Data Management | Question & Answer Session
Broadcast Date: 15 Mar
Webinar Overview
Prasad Bhonsule and Graham Keating, two of Solid Solutions' PDM experts, answered questions around using managing SOLIDWORKS data. Our final live webinar in a series looking at managing CAD data

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