Since the COVID-19 “stay at home” directives, there has been an influx of SOLIDWORKS PDM questions concerning inability to connect PDM servers through a VPN (Virtual Private Network). This article offers some considerations to take when working from home using VPN connections. IT personnel – be sure to read the “VPN considerations for end users and administrators” section!
Ensure that your VPN setup allows accessing the PDM servers using host names. If this is not possible, you can update the client’s Windows host file accordingly. Just ensure server IP is static.
Turning off ICMP for server hardening is OK. We just ask to inform users or our support team if we are troubleshooting a connection. A ping test is always one of the first things we test for connections and may confound troubleshooting efforts if unaware of ICMP being disabled.
Ensure that the following ports are open in network from a client connected through VPN. I have encountered situations where required ports were not opened in firewall appliances and/or routers used to allow a new VPN setup for PDM. It’s important that ports are open in all applicable network appliances used for a VPN connection.
To optimize connection reliability and PDM performance while using VPN, ensure that the PDM client has a direct connection to their home router. Provide a CAT5e RJ45 cable if possible or instruct the end user to acquire one. Wi-Fi reliability is very dynamic and varies depending on many factors. If end users are working through VPN and Wi-Fi simultaneously, expect issues like the ones described in the “considerations for end user” section of this document.
SOLIDWORKS Corp. has created a tool to test for connectivity from a PDM client to the servers. This tool facilitates ping and telnet tests to Microsoft SQL, PDM Archive Service, and Licensing Server. You can download the tool via SOLIDWORKS Customer Portal Knowledge Base article S-069274. An active maintenance subscription is required.
For a limited time, due to the COVID-19 “stay at home” directive from many local and state authorities, GoEngineer provides this tool to anyone that needs it (access to SOLIDWORKS Customer Portal or not). You can access it here.
First, note that VPN connections will not have the same bandwidth, consistent connection/reliability, and low latency that the local area network (LAN) back at your office has. You will see a slowdown in performance while working through VPN. Keep these things in mind to help improve your work-from-home experience.
I hope you found this guide to the SOLIDWORKS PDM VPN helpful. For more engineering resources and solutions for working from home, visit our website.
About Francisco Guzman
Francisco Guzman is the PDM Technical Support Lead at GoEngineer, and is pursuing his degree in mechanical engineering at the University of Utah. In addition to providing guidance and support to SOLIDWORKS and SOLIDWORKS PDM customers, Francisco also provides support for DriveWorks design automation. He won the world-wide DriveWorks reseller CPD contest as the best DriveWorks AE for 2015. For fun, he designs, 3D-Prints, builds and races custom first-person-view (FPV) racing drone frames.
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