In this quick guide to SOLIDWORKS licenses and activations, we’ll highlight various key aspects of the types and durations of licenses you can work with when accessing and using SOLIDWORKS with TECHNIA and 3DEXPERIENCE.

We’ll focus our overview on tackling some of the most commonly asked questions about SOLIDWORKS licenses — namely the differences between Perpetual Licensing and Term Licensing, and the pros and cons of a standalone vs. a ‘floating’ license.

SOLIDWORKS Perpetual Licenses

A SOLIDWORKS Perpetual License is one of the most requested license types for the SOLIDWORKS platform. It’s one of the two main license types available, the other being Term Licensing.

A Perpetual License offers exactly what it sounds like: a user license that, once purchased, remains yours in perpetuity (i.e., for as long as you wish to continue using the program). It will never expire, and you won’t need to continue to pay any additional renewal or ‘top-up’ fees in order to retain unlimited access.

SOLIDWORKS Perpetual Licensing is available in two key varieties, namely standalone or ‘floating’ SNL (SolidNetWork) versions.

SOLIDWORKS Perpetual Standalone Licenses

A standalone SOLIDWORKS Perpetual License is primarily designed to meet the needs of individual platform users. It allows a single licensee continual access to the full suite of software solutions they’ve signed up and paid for.

Access privileges are handled via a built-in activation or deactivation trigger, which fires during a correctly authorized installation. Note that standalone license activation requires an internet connection to complete initial setup and authorization. However, once successfully activated, an ongoing internet connection isn’t required to run and use the correctly licensed program in future.

SOLIDWORKS standalone Perpetual Licenses also allow for the transfer of that license to a new computer or device, although it will only enable a single authorized version to be installed per license at any one time.

In other words, using the built-in tools to transfer the license to a second machine will remove it from the previous device. If you plan to switch between accessing a single SOLIDWORKS license on two or more computers regularly, users on a Perpetual standalone license would need to complete the required transfer process each time.

SOLIDWORKS SNL (Perpetual Floating License)

For some users and businesses, a useful alternative to the Perpetual standalone license is a SolidNetWork Perpetual License (SNL) version. This is often referred to as a ‘floating’ license, or online license. If you require access to SOLIDWORKS for multiple users, you can achieve this efficiently and conveniently via a SOLIDWORKS SNL license.

SNL licensing enables companies and organizations to spread authorized access to the program across a wider pool of staff or community users. It does so by storing a number of SOLIDWORKS Perpetual Licenses — however many you’ve purchased — on a client licensing server installed on your own internal network.

Individuals authorized to access the program on your network can then log in to the server and request temporary use of a license, which ‘checks out’ one of your available licenses to that user while their SOLIDWORKS session is active. On closing the program, the license associated with it is returned to the server pool again, and immediately marked as available for a new user.

In most cases, the SOLIDWORKS program itself (and any licensed extensions or add-ons) will typically be installed locally for all potential users. However, the SNL server will monitor concurrent user numbers, and limit simultaneous session access to the total number of licenses owned. Borrowing a SOLIDWORKS network license, or returning a license when done, is a simple and quick three-step process launched from within the program itself.

A SOLIDWORKS SNL Perpetual License can offer a much more practical and efficient solution for multi-user access than constantly having to transfer a finite number of licenses between various machines and devices.

However, there are some limitations to be aware of: client machines must be registered to the same corporation as the network on which the SNL server is installed, and users can only access the SNL server from within the same global region that the network is based in.

Convert Your SOLIDWORKS Standalone License to an Online License

If you need to be able to work seamlessly in SOLIDWORKS between an unlimited number of computers, it’s obviously a huge advantage to use an online license, as opposed to per-machine licensing.

Having to repeatedly transfer your standalone version between devices can be frustrating, as it’s all too easy to accidentally leave it active on a machine you don’t currently have direct physical access to. (Similarly, you may find that personalized user setups and customizations are different on various devices accessed by multiple users, which can slow things down considerably.)

Online licensing is available for all users of standalone licenses for SOLIDWORKS 2018 or newer versions. (It can also be reversed, if at any point you wish to return to a per-machine license model.) The process is relatively straightforward for CAD admins and can be initiated from within the correctly licensed and authorized SOLIDWORKS program itself with the right user credentials and permissions.

SOLIDWORKS Term Licenses

A SOLIDWORKS Term License is a good option for users looking to reduce the initial cost of accessing the full SOLIDWORKS suite. It works by granting access to the platform for a limited period — typically 3 months or 1 year — on a rental basis, which can be renewed at your convenience when the previously agreed term is up.

SOLIDWORKS Term Licenses vs. Perpetual Licenses

A SOLIDWORKS Perpetual License requires paying the full licensing costs upfront, but the license is then owned by the user in perpetuity. In other words, you’ll remain a fully licensed SOLIDWORKS user for as long as you require access to the program version you’ve paid for, with no repeating costs further down the line.

By contrast, a SOLIDWORKS Term License is a less expensive option initially, enabling users and businesses to avoid paying the full cost of ownership as an initial outlay. Instead, it works by allowing rental of a temporary license for a limited window, after which it will need renewing if you wish to continue using SOLIDWORKS. This can be repeated as often as you like.

As with all software licensing, there will inevitably come a point where a Term License — or any form of product rental model — will eventually prove less economical than full ownership in the long-run. However, as a short-term or fixed-term solution, it can be an extremely practical and cost-effective way to gain full instant access to the SOLIDWORKS platform at lower initial cost.

As a result, many types of users might benefit from opting for a SOLIDWORKS Term License, rather than a more expensive Perpetual License. Examples where this is likely the case include licenses for new or temporary staff, for startup companies looking to maximize cash flow, or for project-specific users who only require SOLIDWORKS access for a limited period.

Can I Float a Term License of SOLIDWORKS?

No. Term licenses for SOLIDWORKS are only available in standalone format at present.

Can I Transfer a Term License of SOLIDWORKS to a Different Machine?

Yes. While SOLIDWORKS Term Licenses can only be activated on a single machine or workstation at a time, once installed they can be transferred fully to a new computer (removing the previous installation) via the built-in tools.

As outlined above, if your company has multiple users who may need to do this regularly, you’ll likely benefit from installing an SNL license server on your networks for ease of flexible access. However, note that this would require switching from Term Licenses to Perpetual Licenses for the required number of concurrent users.

What is the Minimum/Maximum Length I Can Have a Term License?

SOLIDWORKS Term Licenses will need to be renewed every 3 months, or every 12 months, depending on the length of time you paid to cover at the last renewal. Three months is the minimum period for which you can obtain a SOLIDWORKS Term License for any one user, although there is a 30-day grace period for all new license registrations.

There is no maximum limitation on the total length of time you can keep renewing a 3-month (or 1-year) SOLIDWORKS Term License for.

How to Deactivate SOLIDWORKS Licenses

Deactivating a SOLIDWORKS license can be necessary for a number of reasons, but by far the most common is during hardware upgrades or replacements. There are slightly different processes required for deactivation of a SOLIDWORKS license, depending on the license type and installation model used.

Whether you’re transferring a Perpetual License, a Term License, a standalone license or an SNL network license, it’s a fairly straight forward process that can be initiated and handled from within the program itself. (There will be additional steps required to deactivate a Network License on an SNL server, which can be accessed from the SolidNetwork License Manager app within the SOLIDWORKS Tools folder.)

There is also a handy Downloads and Updates section on the SOLIDWORKS Customer Portal, which contains the SW Activation Wizard tool. This is often the easiest method for clients who need to make alterations to their license activation status remotely, provided they have the appropriate administrator privileges for their license type and user SOLIDWORKS account.