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Clean install

Question asked by John Sutherland on Apr 9, 2010
Latest reply on Apr 11, 2010 by Jeff Mowry
Each user will travel by a unique path to the decision to reinstall SolidWorks, so universal advice cannot be given, but here is my experience.

SolidWorks calculates a "Computer ID" which is a function of the installation fixed disk properties.   Additional installations of SolidWorks on any partition or fixed disk may function provided that the original fixed disk and SolidWorks installation is active.  Before removing the original fixed disk, transfer the licence back to SolidWorks.  If the disk fails, you must go cap in hand to your VAR who may permanently deny activation permission for that disk. 

Help>Transfer licence>"Manual method" means email licence back to SolidWorks for computers denied access to the internet.

The slightest crack in Windows is liable to halt SW installation, SW Toolbox configuration, SW Licence transfer, and SW program removal.

The Windows Registry contains hundreds of keys with meaningless names which reference SolidWorks in their data field.  These may cause trouble, but it is unlikely that you could find and delete all of them without inadvertently deleting something essential.

Registry cleaners do only the easy bits.

The only practical way to clear the Registry is a full install of Windows; not a Recovery, or a Repair.  This will break all your applications and they will need to be reinstalled.  Do you have the original media?

Neither deleting nor wiping nor reformatting will remove all traces of files, and a fresh install of SolidWorks may sniff out a previous installation and consider it as active for the purpose of licensing.  There are utilities which expunge data by overwriting every track, and there are DoD standards for doing this.

If you are not granted 30 days grace for activating SolidWorks, then you do not have a clean install.  There is baggage which might bite you in the bum.

Before using one of your scarce (two of them) activations, check whether Toolbox can be configured; check in Control Panel Add/Remove that SW can be removed.  Don't waste an activation on a faulty installation.

Activation can be denied.

Different SW versions and different SW projects can be installed in different Windows system partitions in order to avoid cross contamination.  MS allows additional Windows installations (multi boot) after the first one is activated.

Storing project documents away from the Windows system partition avoids loss when reinstalling Windows.

You should decide whether shared/common files such as Library and Toolbox logically belong to SW or to the project.


All downloads should be saved as zip files and not installed live, so that you have a record of what you downloaded and can reinstall if necessary.

Opening a zip file on another drive and installing the application to the system drive will create troublesome entries in the system drive registry.  Move the zip file to the system drive before opening it.

MS allows periodic (120 days) reactivation of Windows, so the ultimate clean install is to:-
    Employ a utility to wipe the partition if not the whole disk.
    Boot from the Windows media, format the partition, and install Windows.

Installing SW after all other applications may prevent them from clobbering SW, which is the most hypersensitive application ever written.  Any apps not required to run concurrently with SW should be in a different Windows system partition requiring a reboot to use them.

I have not explained here partitioning fixed disks, boot vs. system partitions, or multi booting Windows.

Feel free to point out my errors.

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