Best Practices for Parallel Installations of SOLIDWORKS

Article by Ryan Dark on Jan 01, 2020

What is a “Parallel Installation” and why are they used?

A “Parallel Installation” of SOLIDWORKS is any time more than one version (i.e. 2011, 2012, 2013, 20XX, etc.) of SOLIDWORKS is installed and operating on a single system. This setup does not require additional licenses as both versions operate under the same serial number and the same license runs both installations. When working with multiple companies, each company may have their engineering department frozen at a particular version of SOLIDWORKS. It is always best to match their version of SOLIDWORKS to ensure design changes can freely flow back and forth between companies.

What is the benefit of setting up “Parallel Installations” in a best practices manner?

The reason a “Parallel Installation” is setup in this way is to prevent a messy file structure on a CAD computer. A messy file system can have several consequences:

  • Linking each installation of SOLIDWORKS to the same “File Locations” reference material
  • Updating the Hole Wizard/Toolbox database or linking to the wrong location
  • A folder structure that contains many duplicate folders

Each of these items contributes to lost productive time due to causing:

  • Compatibility errors within the various SOLIDWORKS installations
  • Making it difficult to determine which folders may be removed when finally removing obsolete SOLIDWORKS installations

Ultimately, two simple edits during the initial installation can alleviate many of the problems. It is recommended to use only the version of SOLIDWORKS and not include the service pack number as it is common to upgrade an existing installation between service packs rendering the installation directory an inaccurate description of the installation.

What needs to be done?

Each SOLIDWORKS installation on a single machine should go through the following process:

  • Initiate the installation from the installation disc or downloaded data set
  • On the ‘Welcome’ screen specify the type of installation to be “Individual (on this computer)” then proceed ‘Next’ 

Parallel Installation Individual

  • On the ‘Serial Number’ screen enter the assigned serial number or leave the existing serial number and proceed ‘Next’

Best Practices for Parallel Installation Standard Professional Premium

  • If the ‘System Check’ finds an existing SOLIDWORKS installation a special ‘Installation Options’ screen will appear. In this screen select to “Create a new installation of SOLIDWORKS 20XX SPX.X” and proceed ‘Next’

Create a New installation of SOLIDWORKS 2013

  • On the ‘Summary’ screen is where most the changes will be now taking place
    • Find the ‘Installation Location’ section and elect to ‘Change’ it

/Installation Location SOLIDWORKS

    • Set the folder for the installation to include the version of the installation. For example
      the default installation directory is this:
      “C:\Program Files\SolidWorks Corp”

      So, set it to:

      “C:\Program Files\SolidWorks 20XX”
    • Once changed go ‘Back to Summary’
  • Now, on the ‘Summary’ screen again
    • Find the ‘Toolbox/Hole Wizard’ section and elect to ‘Change’ it

Parallel Installation Toolbox Hole Wizard Options

    • The options should continue to be set to “Create a new Toolbox”
    • Set the folder for the Toolbox/Hole Wizard to include the version of the installation. For
      example the default Toolbox/Hole Wizard directory is this:
      “C:\SolidWorks Data”

      So, set it to:

      “C:\SolidWorks Data 20XX”
    • Once changed go ‘Back to Summary’
  • With these two items set the installation is ready for ‘Download and Install’
  • Once the installation is complete repeat steps 1 through 7 for additional parallel installations.

FAQ for Multiple Versions of SOLIDWORK on one PC

Provided by Jackie Yip

Q: Why would a user want to keep multiple versions on the same machine? Shouldn’t we always be on the latest release?

Many users work with vendors that are still on different version.  Saving files in that older version of SOLIDWORKS files will work with the newer versions but not vice versa. Therefore, keeping different versions of the software allows customers to work with their vendors accordingly.

Q: How is my serial number affected?  Does it take up an extra activation? Is there an extra cost for keeping multiple versions of SOLIDWORKS on the same machine?

Keeping two or more versions on the same machine will use the existing serial number that is currently on the machine and therefore, an extra activation is not taken up. We can theoretically have multiple versions opened up at the same time due to this. This applies to both a standalone and network license.

Q: Will we run into any issues with settings and other related products if we keep multiple versions of SOLIDWORKS?

Please refer to this link about coexistence rules:

If we’re running a newer version on a network license, the SolidNetwork License Manager will need to be updated to match to most up-to-date version.

Q: Is there a way to copy our settings from different versions (ex. Toolbars, shortcuts, etc.) using the Settings Copy Wizard?

Currently, the Copy Settings Wizard will not carry settings over from different versions. However, if a newer version is installed after the older version, SOLIDWORKS will copy the settings to reflect the most recent earlier version installed on the same machine when the newer version is opened for the first time.

Q: If we longer need to keep the older versions, is it safe to uninstall?

Due to how multiple installs can share common files, we typically don’t recommend uninstalling the older versions first if a newer version is already installed. The safest way to get rid of the older versions is to either run a clean uninstall of all SOLIDWORKS versions or to uninstall the most current versions and then perform an upgrade if needed.

I hope you found this tutorial helpful. For more tips and tricks just like these, be sure to subscribe!

This article was originally published in January 2013 and has been updated.


      About Ryan Dark

      Ryan has been in the GoEngineer technical support team since February 2008 where he most notably provides support for all FEA and CFD software offered by SolidWorks. His most recent accolade is the title of Elite Application Engineer awarded by SolidWorks Corp.

      View all posts by Ryan Dark