AnsweredAssumed Answered

Will our work be accessible in the future?

Question asked by Steve Field on Feb 21, 2018

I have been running my one man Design Consultancy for almost 20 years now, providing mechanical design services to a wide range of companies in the areas of vending machines, gas and solid fuel heating appliances and commercial refrigeration equipment. I love Engineering and also love to make things.

As a Designer, I've mostly had to write the story to guide others to make things which can be frustrating when you see people butchering your work !


On 19th February 2018 I was hit by a forced Windows 10 Feature Update that left my PC crippled, knocking out SolidWorks, Sketchup, Kaspersky Antivirus,  Comodo Firewall and many Windows settings. The effect was almost as damaging as a virus attack!

Over the course of two days and a night, I recovered the situation and now have my system working again. My mistrust for Microsoft continues to grow.


As I struggled to fix my system I started to worry about future for the design data I've created over the years. I still have all of my SolidWorks data from 2003 onward but this relies on being able to use SolidWorks.


I bought my SolidWorks Professional License back in 2005 for £3,000 and have paid £1,200 - £1,400 each year for support from a UK VAR (NT CADCAM). I will be winding up my company this year so I can pursue other interests. For that reason I let my support lapse in December 2017 and understand that I am pegged forever to SW2017 SP5 or SW2018 SP0.1. When the Windows Feature update hit me I had to fix the situation myself and this got me wondering what the situation will be in say 5 years time.

By then I will, no doubt, have updated my computer equipment. Assuming I was able to made an orderly transition from the old system to the new, it's likely that I would be able to run my SW2017 SP5 but how can I be sure of this? If my old system breaks down and my SW license is locked, how easy will it be for me to regain entitlement to use the excellent software I have paid so much for?


Another concern, assuming the data is still accessible, will the format of the data mean that it's just not worth the effort of retrieval or conversion?

You can pick up a drawing from the 1900s and just read it but what do you do with a box of floppy disks with TurboCAD drawings or CDs with early SolidEdge data?

It's all doable but wouldya?


I'm starting to think of my design work as volatile. I plan to spend less time creating fully detailed records, moving more quickly instead to the process of making. I'm will no longer lay down records for the future. This means that when I design my next project to build in my workshop, I'll take the work only so far as it allows me to do the work accurately without the guarantee that I'd be able to back and access or update the work in the future. I'll move more quickly to the workbench, spending less time on fully detailed drawings.



A client's refrigeration system


Current work on the design of a double bed