If you can, post the file here. I am sure many would be willing to try to open it and send you back the SW file.
Try the 30 day free trial of Adobe Acrobat Professional Extended. It can read and convert 3D file formats. It may be able to open the file and convert it to something that SW can handle. It will probably be trial and error, but try a conversion to IGES first. Then Parasolid, or SolidWorks filetypes.
what is your computer? then we can tell you. have set it up to be uptimized to run SW?
32bit, 64bit, Win XP/XP64 Vista or Win 7? how much ram, video card and its ram.
have you set your vertual memory to 3 times the ram? Swap file size.
are you pulling it from your hard drive or from the server?
should be on your hard drive sometimes the servers stall on the back and fourth.
close all other programs, just SW.
Microsoft windows XP Professional, version 2002, service pack 3
Dell precision T3500
Intel Xeon CPU
W3503 @ 2.40GHz
2.40 GHx, 2.00 GB of Ram
NVIDIA Quadro FX 580
Supposedly this is a comp. that solidworks, recommends or approves. This is what my tech guy had said when we got it.
I did go to virtual memory and changed it to let me manage the swap file size. I changed it to a min of 2045MB and a Max of 8000MB. Is this what you mean? I then rebooted, only opened SW and it still could not open. Interestingaly, even though it is set to the above range, it still says the page file for all drives is 2045MB. The file is located on my hard drive, in a folder under my documents.
If you're working and getting 1/2 gig step files from your customers, your tech guy surely must know better than to spec you a computer for some of the minmum requirements. You should probably have no less than 8 gigs of ram at a minimum.
See if you can get your customer to break up that step file in 3 or 4 smaller step files if it is an assembly of something. But even if that works your still going to have to work with all of it inside of Solidworks so you really need to talk to your tech guy about this obvious limitation.
I assume that you are running 32 bit SW. As others have pointed out, your RAM is pretty minimal, but that should just slow you down, not kill you. You could try setting the 3 GB switch, starting with 2900 MB allocated. This may give SW enough memory to open the file. If that doesn't work, then you will probably need to go to a 64 bit OS and 64 bit SW. If that doesn't work, then you need to talk to the people who sent you the file and see what they can do to help.
That is a decent system for working on small parts, but for larger assemblies you need more RAM, and a 64 bit OS. As Jerry said you can try and squeeze all you can out of your current system, which can only handle 4GB of RAM because it is 32 bit.
Here is a page detailing what Jerry is talking about:
I keep the 3GB switch off, I get errors. I suggest trying it out just to do this one conversion, then turning it off most of the time after that. You should also consider installing Win7 64 bit, and getting more RAM.