The loss of data, whether from hardware failure, software issues or simply human error is a constant concern for all designers. To help protect your data you may take advantage of Product Data Management software such as SOLIDWORKS PDM, but if you do not have these tools available, or even if you do, there are a few quick simple changes that you can make to your SOLIDWORKS settings that can help you to protect your hard work.
Accessing SOLIDWORKS Backup and Recovery Options
In SOLIDWORKS go to Tools > Options and under the System Options go to the Backup/Recover options page. There are three sections here that we can have control over.
The Auto-recover option is enabled by default in SOLIDWORKS and will create a new auto-recover file every 10 minutes. The Auto-recover files will only be created if: (1) the file has already been saved once, so if you have either opened an existing file, or have saved and named a new file; and (2) if there has been a change to the file since the last time it was saved, this would be indicated by the * symbol next to the file name at the top of the screen.
If for any reason your SOLIDWORKS session is terminated unexpectedly, such as by a crash or power outage, the Auto-recover functionality will detect the file that was created in the last session and ask you if you want to recover it. Again, this will only work if you have saved the file at least once, making it a really good habit to save your file right away when you first create it and give it a name. You can choose to increase or decrease the auto-recover interval if you wish, but 10 minutes is a good time frame normally.
You can also change the file location for the auto-recover files, for instance you could point it to an easier to find location if you wish to, however be aware that the auto-recover location MUST be on a local hard drive, you cannot use a network location either pointing to the UNC path or the Mapped Drive, the auto-recover file will not be created if you do.
By default the SOLIDWORKS Backup option is disabled when you install SOLIDWORKS. If you are not using any PDM system then the first setting change you should make in SOLIDWORKS is to enable this option. You can keep 1 or more backup copies of your document after each save. Normally I like to keep 3 copies just to be safe. This means that each time you hit save, before your current changes are saved, the original file as it was at the time of the last save operation will be copied to the backup folder. This way if you make a change that you want to undo you can easily retrieve the previous version of the file from the backup folder. Just like with the Auto-recover folder location, you can point the backup folder to a different location, and just like the Auto-recover you CANNOT save backups to a network location.
Also, If you are storing your SOLIDWORKS files on a network location and accessing them directly from there, you should not choose the option “Save backup files in the same location as the original”, instead make sure that you are using a folder location on the local hard drive.
Even if you have a PDM system in place you may want to consider turning on the backup option. When you check out a file from the vault and start making changes to it, there will not be a new version created in the vault until you check that file back in. So while you are working on the file it will behave exactly like any local SOLIDWORKS file. If you will be working on the file over the course of several days without checking it back in (not a good idea unless you are forced to, such as if you are working offline while disconnected from the vault), it is a very good idea to take the precaution of enabling backups directly in SOLIDWORKS.
Have you noticed this pesky notice that pops us near your cursor when you haven’t saved for a few minutes? Remember he’s just trying to save your hard work from electronic oblivion so pay attention to him and don’t just rely on your auto-recover settings. You can adjust the frequency and duration of the notification if you like.