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Using Disc Cloning to minimise computer down-time

If you’re setting up a new computer for SolidWorks, here are some recommendations that may save a lot of hassle in future if you experience any problems. Disc cloning tools create “snapshots” that you can use to revert to at the first sign of trouble. Wikipedia maintains a list of disc cloning software:
If you already have your computer set up, and it’s running nicely, you can also make use of disc cloning software to create a restore point for your system.

Firstly, create a Windows partition using disc partitioning software. This partition should contain Windows and Program files only.

All data (SolidWorks files, documents, music, videos, etc.) should be saved to a separate partition. This ensures that if Windows or any programs become corrupt, you can format the Windows partition without affecting your data.

With a fresh install of Windows 7 requiring upwards of 6Gb, plus space for installation of programs (SolidWorks can require up to approx. 7Gb) and the inevitable Windows growth (my current C:\Windows directory is a tad over 20Gb), you should make sure the partition is a minimum of around 40Gb. Thankfully, HDD space is cheap these days.

After the disc is partitioned, install Windows. Once done, create a series of disc “images” using the disc cloning software:

  • A fresh Windows install (with latest updates applied, basic drivers, etc.). No user settings or extra software installed.
  • All of the above, plus applying user settings, network settings, software (Office, Outlook, etc.). No SolidWorks.
  • Above, plus SolidWorks, but with no SolidWorks user settings applied.
You can then set up SolidWorks as you wish and save the settings using the SolidWorks Copy Settings Wizard. These settings should be redone from scratch for each major release (i.e. when upgrading from SW2010 to SW2011) to ensure your SolidWorks registry does not become corrupted.

While heavily compressed, these image files will still be quite large. I would suggest keeping the clean SolidWorks image on your machine for quick access, but also copying all of the images to an external HDD and keeping it off-site for safety.

It is OK to uninstall and upgrade SolidWorks normally, rather than reverting back to the previous image. The idea of the images is to provide various levels of a "clean slate" should there be any particularly stubborn or unresolvable computer issues.


It is still a good idea to “rebuild” your machine from the first, clean Windows image on a semi-regular basis, to ensure a continued smooth operation of Windows and SolidWorks. After each rebuild, make sure you create new images of your Windows partition as per the above steps.

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