What Happens When You Repair SOLIDWORKS?

Article by Jim Peltier, CSWE updated January 29, 2016



You are likely familiar with the process to repair an installation of SOLIDWORKS, but it is not immediately clear what is happening in the background during this repair. So I’m going to answer the question: “What happens when you repair SOLIDWORKS?”

Repair SOLIDWORKS command

Well, essentially what happens in the background is that it runs the command MSIEXEC.EXE, which is a Microsoft Windows Installer. There are a few options that are set that are specific to repairs. For instance, the command line options would read as follows (don’t run this command, by the way):

msiexec /fpecms solidworks.msi

Of course, there are some follow-up questions. Firstly, where is “solidworks.msi”? What is “fpecms”? And why shouldn’t I run that command from the command prompt?

solidworks.msi file location

The file solidworks.msi can be found in the “swwi\data” folder of your installation files. This is why it is important that you have these files when repairing your SOLIDWORKS installation. You will also know that if you run a repair from the Control Panel (as you should do), it does not ask you for a location. Windows will search in the same location that the installation files were when you installed.

  • If you installed from a DVD, then insert the DVD.
  • If you installed from a network location, you need to be connected to the network and the installation files need to still exist in that location.
  • Same thing if you installed from a local fileset. The path must be the same.

fpecms meaning

So what about the fpecms? Each letter is an option for the msiexec command. They have the following meaning:

f Enables the other options
p Reinstalls only if a file is missing.
e Reinstalls if a file is missing or an equal or older version is installed.
c Reinstalls if a file is missing or the stored checksum does not match the calculated value.
m Rewrites all required computer-specific registry entries.
s Overwrites all existing shortcuts. (this isn't your SOLIDWORKS shortcuts, by the way)

So Windows essentially goes through everything that should be there in your SOLIDWORKS install directory and registry, and overwrites it if it finds something wrong.

So now you have one all-enthralling question: why not run this command from the command prompt?

Well, firstly, there is no real advantage of running it. The repair process takes at least as long to complete when run from the command prompt as from the Control Panel. At the end of the repair process, if you use the command prompt, it will reboot your computer without asking. It will also not ask you which products you want repaired. Finally, it is susceptible to typos if you go through the command prompt and you can accidentally uninstall the program or corrupt your installation.  So don’t run the command from the command prompt, just use the Control Panel!

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Jim Peltier, CSWE

Jim has been using SolidWorks since 2001, and has spent most of that time working in the design of industrial automated manufacturing equipment. He has been working as an Applications Expert at Javelin Technologies in Oakville, Ontario since July 2012 and is a Certified SolidWorks Expert (CSWE).