Copy Settings Wizard strategy before and after a SOLIDWORKS registry reset fixed a problem

Article by John Lee, CSWE updated May 11, 2020


Restoring SOLIDWORKS custom settings is sometimes necessary, and if much time has been invested in setting them all then it’s not fun to imagine having to restore them all manually. This article discusses restoring custom settings if there was deemed to be a corruption in the SOLIDWORKS part of the Windows registry.

If you did not invest much time in customizing your settings, then manual re-creation of custom settings might be an option and this article might not be for you.  If you do not relish the idea of manual re-creation, then keep reading, as restoring your hard work might not be as straightforward as you think, as there is a nasty little trap we can get into.  Fortunately, there is a way to avoid it!

“Knowing that a trap exists is the first step in avoiding it”

— Frank Herbert, Dune

Each key element in the trap is quite innocent by itself.  Here they are:

  • Almost inevitably, SOLIDWORKS performance issues will crop up that can be resolved by a SOLIDWORKS registry resetIf the reset fixed the problem, then we know where the problem lay: in the registry!  We then refer to the registry issue as a corruption.  Its cause is usually unknown.  And a registry is only magnetically-stored data… if a bit is flipped from a 0 to a 1, that can create a corruption.  Could even be caused by cosmic rays from outer space!
  • Copy Settings Wizard is a great way to save hours of manual re-creation of your custom settings in SOLIDWORKS.  It copies the user’s SOLIDWORKS subset of the Windows registry, where the custom settings are stored, and writes them to backup files for possible restoration later.

Can you guess how the trap works, when these two elements are used in sequence?  This is how:

  1. Copy Settings Wizard is a copier; if there was a corruption in the user settings of the SOLIDWORKS registry, then it will copy that corruption to the settings files
  2. It is rather difficult to know precisely when the corruption first crept into the registry.  Could have been months ago.  Could have been from a colleague’s settings file or an admin image.  Sometimes the adverse effect is isolated to some area of SOLIDWORKS that you haven’t used in a while.  Therefore it may not be obvious when the corruption was copied out to the settings files.  This is why it is so important to regularly back up your SOLIDWORKS custom settings, and maintain a collection of multiple settings files.  Because if there is only one settings file, and you always overwrite the same one, then it’s just a matter of time before it inherits a corruption.  It is good practice to incorporate the save date into the filename of each, for easy reference.  But if you only have the one file, fear not….keep reading!
  3. When Copy Settings Wizard is used to restore custom settings after the registry was reset, it will restore any corruption that was previously saved out to the file from which you’re restoring.

This trap can be dealt with in a few different ways:

  • if you did not invest much time in customizing your settings, then manual re-creation of custom settings will likely avoid the trap completely.  Otherwise, keep reading
  • if the restore has re-introduced the corruption (can test whether this is the case in SOLIDWORKS), then consider restoring from older backups until you find one that did not re-introduce the corruption.  No need to reset the registry each time, as each restore will overwrite those registry settings anyway
  • if you have no custom settings files that are not corrupt, consider exporting a colleague’s settings if their computer does not have the same symptoms as yours.  Then apply their settings to your installation of SOLIDWORKS.
  • if you need to restore from a particular settings file that you suspect DOES contain the corruption, then you can experiment with the checkbox settings to isolate which one contains the corruption.  That way, at least you get to restore most of the settings once you determine which checkbox needs to be left unchecked.  With luck, you will have very little customization work left to do.  You can even restore just that checkbox from an older (or a colleague’s) settings file, and maybe completely save yourself any manual re-creation of your custom settings.

    SOLIDWORKS Copy Settings Wizard

    Can try unchecking various checkboxes if you suspect the corruption is in that file.  Try half, then a third, etc.

NOTE: For those who are moderately or heavily invested in customizing SOLIDWORKS settings, we recommend maintaining a collection of custom settings files, with a new one saved out every once in a while especially when things are working well, so that you have a good stock from which to restore when needed.

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John Lee, CSWE

John Lee is inherently lazy in that he prefers to work smarter - not harder. A CSWE with fifteen years of experience using SOLIDWORKS and a background in mechanical design, John has used SOLIDWORKS in various industries requiring design for injection molding, sheet metal, weldments and structural steel.