SOLIDWORKS Online Licensing Guide
What is Online Licensing?
Standalone SOLIDWORKS licenses can be configured to use one of two methods to better serve the user’s specific needs: Machine Activation or Online Licensing. Activation is the default licensing method and involves an initial internet activation that ties the license to the physical machine. The activation is permanently connected to that machine unless de-activated by the user, which is perfect when a license is used exclusively on one system or when a system does not have reliable internet access. Online Licensing instead is connected to a user login and allows that user to run the license on any internet-connected computer. The biggest advantage to switching to Online Licensing is the ability to install and run SolidWorks on more than one machine without having to go through a manual process to transfer the license. This feature is available with SolidWorks 2018 and all subsequent releases.
Confirm each of the following steps has been completed to successfully setup or convert a license to Online Licensing.
Setup the Admin Portal
NOTE: All users involved in configuring or using Online Licensing will need a SOLIDWORKS ID, the account is free to create and provides additional access to multiple SOLIDWORKS websites.
Once logged in with your SOLIDWORKS ID, move your cursor over your name and select Admin Portal.
NOTE: if you do not see the option for Admin Portal it might mean your SOLIDWORKS ID is not linked to your company account. This video shows how to link the two together.
If you are the first user to follow these steps for your company’s account, you will be prompted to become an administrator for the account. Administrative permissions will allow the user to perform important actions like switch licensing types, assign users/products, invite members, and promote administrators. Administrator rights can be configured later if needed, but the first user will be the Admin by default so it is best for the CAD Admin to perform this step. Agree to the terms and conditions to continue.
If a second user performs these steps, they are requested to contact an Administrator of the account to join the Admin Portal. All active Administrators and their email addresses will be listed for the user.
Invite Additional Users
Any additional users must be invited to the account and accept the email invitation to become active and participate in Online Licensing. Only an Administrator of the account can invite additional users to join the Admin Portal. To invite a new member, click on the Members tab at the top right, and then click Invite Member.
You can invite multiple people at a time and set initial user rights, as well as customize the message to users as needed. Members can only use online licensing; Admins can use and configure the licenses.
Users will be listed as pending until they accept the invitation link in the email. After they log in to the Admin Portal with their SolidWorks ID, they will see a screen stating that they have been added as a Member/Admin of the Admin Portal.
On the Members tab you view the full list of users including names, email addresses, User Rights, and the number of Assigned Products to each member. You can click on any user to view additional details and manage that user’s assigned products and services, but the products must first be configured for online licensing.
Click the Products tab to view all licenses associated with this account. On this screen you can quickly see details such as if a license is currently activated or assigned to a user. Click on any license to look at additional details and to configure it for Online Licensing.
Any individual license can be converted to an online license as long as it is not currently activated. Check the Active Machines status to verify which computers, if any, are currently active. You will not be allowed to change the activation type to online unless this field shows no active computers.
De-activate All Existing Machines
Before a license is eligible for online licensing, it must be completely de-activated from all computers. If SOLIDWORKS is still installed, you can de-activate it by running SOLIDWORKS and going to Help > Licenses > Deactivate. More details, including how to perform this step after an uninstall, is available here.
If the computer cannot be located to perform this step you must contact support for assistance before you can proceed.
Click the link to toggle the license between activation and online licensing modes.
After selecting the “Change to Online Licensing” link, the Admin will be prompted with another dialog stating, “Are you sure you want to change to Online licensing?”. Click OK to continue.
After clicking OK, the Admin can verify that the product has been changed over to Online Licensing by looking under the Activation Type. Repeat this process for each license that needs to be converted to Online Licensing. This process would also allow you to convert the license back to Activation at any time in the future.
Assign Products to Users
Products and Services can be assigned to or removed from users by any administrator. Assigning a product to a specific user grants that user the ability to run that product when they are online. Each user can be assigned multiple products, but no product can be assigned to multiple users.
To assign one or more Products to a specific User, go to the Members tab, click on the username, and then select the products at the bottom of the screen to add to that user. To assign or remove a product to a specific user, click on Products, then on that license, and finally select the user to assign. Pay close attention to which licenses are used, and don’t forget to add additional licenses if the user requires multiple products.
SolidWorks Administrators are encouraged to assign products to users to keep track of who is using each license and quickly see who has access to each product. Products can be assigned to users for both Online and Activation licensing. Network licenses cannot use this feature because one license cannot be assigned to multiple users.
Configure Client Computers
When a user launches SolidWorks for the first time after the license activation type was changed to Online Licensing, a dialog box appears stating that the Activation transaction failed and that is expected. Click No and relaunch SolidWorks to convert the installation to Online Licensing.
After SolidWorks is launched for the second time, the user will be prompted to log in to their account using their SolidWorks credentials to retrieve licenses for any products assigned to that account.
Once the user is logged in, they will notice that the SolidWorks Profile Icon turns blue showing that they are currently logged in. Selecting this icon will show the user a few options that are now available to them from inside of SOLIDWORKS (See FAQ below for more details).
NOTE: You must manually log off here to switch to a different account on this computer. Restarting SOLIDWORKS will automatically re-use the same account each time for your convenience.
Online licensing also simplifies the installation process. On the installation manager serial number screen, simply Login at the top to change the local installation to use Online Licensing by default. This will also configure the installation to only the products assigned to that account.
Troubleshooting and Frequently Asked Questions:
Q: Does Online Licensing require an active internet connection?
A: Online Licensing requires an internet connection during a SolidWorks launch to borrow the license from the SolidWorks Licensing Servers. NOTE: Some security protocols may block this communication, even if an internet connection exists.
Q: What if I need to disconnect from the internet temporarily or the internet connection is unstable?
A: The “Take License Offline” option allows users to operate without an internet connection for up to 30 days, but the user must initially be online to perform this operation.
The offline operation can be turned off or restarted by unchecking the option.
Q: What happens if you try to run a second instance of an online license?
A: If the application is already online on one computer when you launch another instance of the product, a dialog box will appear on the last machine launched stating there is session in use and the application will lock down on first machine. The second machine will become the only machine capable of using the license.
If the license has been taken offline, additional instances will be refused until the license is returned to online mode.
Q: If I pull a license to a new instance, will I lose my unsaved work on the initial instance?
A: No, you will not lose your data. You will be able to save any currently open documents when you return and then close the application.
Q: Can Online Licenses be switched back to Activation-based licenses?
A: Yes, standalone licenses can use either licensing scheme by following the procedures above. There is no limit to switching them between the two modes.
Q: Can Network Licenses be converted to Online Licensing?
A: No, Network Licenses cannot take advantage of Online Licensing. It is however possible to connect to a network license manager through a VPN or borrow a network license for up to 30 days, allowing users to work remotely.
Q: What does the error message “SOLIDWORKS is not enabled for your SOLIDWORKS ID. Consult your CAD Administrator” indicate?
A: If a user sees this message it means something has not been configured correctly for this account. You must have a SOLIDWORKS Standard, Professional, or Premium license associated with the account to start SOLIDWORKS. Add-on products such as CAM, Flow, or Sim cannot operate by themselves without the underlying core license. Licenses such as Composer that run in a separate interface do not require a SOLIDWORKS license. To resolve this error, the SolidWorks Administrators will need to log in to the Admin Portal and assign the required products.
If a new login is required, the stored client login information can be reset by finding and deleting C:\Users\\AppData\Local\SolidWorks\Credentials\ud.xml. Restart SOLIDWORKS after that file is deleted and you will be prompted to login with a new SOLIDWORKS ID.
Q: What does “Login Failed. Unable to Connect to the Authentication Server” indicate?
A: If a user do not have an internet connection or communication is blocked by security protocols and they try to launch SolidWorks using their Online Licensing activation, they will be prompted with the dialog stating that the Login Failed which will not allow them to use the Online Licensed Products. Restore the internet connection or troubleshoot the network security and retry.
Q: How do I resolve the error message “Unable to obtain online license for SOLIDWORKS. License limit exceeded.”?
A: An Online License could get caught in a “Hung state” which means that SolidWorks Online License Server thinks the user is currently using an Online License when in fact, they are not. The first solution to try is to delete the license activation files stored in the trusted storage location on their machine. Navigate to C:\ProgramData\FLEXnet, delete all the files that begin with “SW_D…”, and relaunch SolidWorks.
Q: What do I do if I get stuck along the way?
A: If the solutions presented here do not resolve the issue, contact support and provide an explanation of the problem.
About the author
Cody is an Application Expert for MLC CAD Systems. He started out as a customer of MLC CAD Systems when he was working as an engineer at a manufacturing plant in central Florida that purchased many SolidWorks products from MLC. He enjoys working with customers and helping them find an efficient and more fun way of using SolidWorks.