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Upgrading EPDM (part four)

Posted by Keith Vittitoe on Fri, Mar 15, 2013 @ 08:03 AM

Welcome back.  Now that you've gathered all the information and download, you're ready for the upgrade. 

One of the (many) advantages EPDM has over Workgroup is the client version of SolidWorks doesn’t have to match the major version of EPDM.  So it’s easy to upgrade and test right away from the SolidWorks clients.  So we can just focus on upgrading EPDM.

1>  Download or dvd.

Keep the download handy.  It is needed for all phases of the upgrade, including the clients. 

2>  License file

EPDM uses a license file that needs to be downloaded – like the good ol’ days of SNL (if you don’t know what SNL means, then you likely don’t remember the good ol’ days either).  After an upgrade, the first thing you want to do is login to the vault, but instead of congratulations for a job well done, you get an error message:

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The license file is acquired via the Customer Portal – My Support->My Products->Get License.  Have that handy before upgrading … and before backing up (sorry, I couldn’t stop myself from mentioning it again).  You’ll also need to know the name of the machine hosting the SQL service and the SA password for SQL.

3>  Installation Guide

Have the Installation Guide handy.  After unpacking the download (or loading the dvd), the guide is found at C:\yourfoldername\Support\Guides – pick your native language.  I’m not sure why, but rather than “E”nglish, the English version is under “GB”.  Don’t get me wrong, I know what “GB” represents, but I’m pretty sure no one in the world speaks “GB”.  Anyway, the upgrade discussion starts on page 93 in the 2013 guide.  Next, as the bullet list above notes, we upgrade the archives. 

Get Started

If your installation has everything on the same server – archives, database, and SQL, then you can upgrade the archives and the database at the same time.  In either case, the process is straightforward.  The download is a zip file, the dvd will fire up on its own.  Once the EPDM installation gets going, you will be presented with two options on the first screen – “upgrade” and “exit”.  If you don’t, then stop and figure out why you think EPDM is installed on this machine, since it isn’t.

After selecting upgrade, the installation wizard will let you know what it finds:

describe the imageAgain, if this list doesn’t match your expectations, stop and check it out.

Honestly, there’s not much to it after that.  You’ll get a warning that the archive and database are running, but just select the default to automatically stop those services.  I’ve tried it both ways and this is the easiest.  If you get some errors discussing failed dll registrations, take screenshots and contact your Reseller.  But even in those cases, a reboot and “repair” often fixes the problem.  Once the update is complete, login to the admin tool and add-in your new license file.

After upgrading the archive and database, the clients get upgraded.  Here’s the good news – it’s the same process.  You saw the client upgrade in the selection list while updating the database and archives.  You’ll need this same set of downloaded files (or dvd) for each client, so maybe place it on a network location.

Next, the file vaults get updated.  This is a very often missed step in the upgrade.  The Installation Guide discusses it, but the shortcut is to start the upgrade wizard manually from the “Upgrade” folder on the install CD (or download folder) by running Upgrade.exe.  There’s no mystery in the upgrade, but note that a reboot of the SQL server is recommended after upgrading the file vaults.

Finally, update the Task Add-ins and Tasks like Convert and Print and Dispatch.  Again, this often gets missed and unless you use them, you’ll never know.  SWTaskAdd-in and the Convert, Design Checker, and Print tasks are copied to the C:\Program Files\SolidWorks Enterprise PDM\Default Data\ folder.  Open the Convert_GB.cex and drag/drop the Task Add-ins into the Task node.  All of this is covered in the Installation Guide.   If you have custom dispatch scripting, don’t worry, that gets updated, but the dll's need to be replaced with new ones.  However, if you have modified the Tasks, those will have to be updated manually.  Besides, you have a backup if anything goes wrong.

Next, upgrade toolbox.  This process can have a few variations, but keep in mind, this is only necessary if you are alos upgrading SolidWorks.  The basic and most common process is check out the entire toolbox (typically the SolidWorks Data folder), use the corresponding SolidWorks upgrade to update the toolbox, then check the toolbox folder back into the vault.  Is simple, no?

Now, a word about upgrading all of your SolidWorks files that are in the vault - Why?  SolidWorks got rid of the annoying pop-up telling you the files is old.  I agree, it’s nice – I’m OCD, too.  But it's easy to over-estimate the number of files actively accessed.  Consider letting everyone update the files as they are updated.

Finally, I strongly recommend against skipping major versions.  I have experience with a Customer where this has caused a problem.  I understand the concern about upgrading for every service pack, but skipping major versions is asking a lot of SolidWorks developers.  I mean every bug fix needs to look back how far?  Anyway, save yourself some trouble and update every year.


Upgrading EPDM (part three)

Posted by Keith Vittitoe on Tue, Mar 12, 2013 @ 08:03 AM

Now that we’ve gotten SQL taken care of, we can focus on the rest of EPDM.

We don’t really get too many support calls for EPDM upgrades issues.  It’s a fairly robust process and there are a fair number of Customers that contract us to do it for them.  Like any other upgrade, there are a few “high runners” – frequent support requests, so I’ll point out the things we get asked most often.  This may help you decide whether this is a “we” or a “you” project.

First, if you’re a frequent reader of this blog or if you’ve ever been in one of my classes/demos/webinars, you’ve heard this before – I cannot over-emphasize backing up and…AND testing those backups.  It’s never more important than when making changes to your company’s data management system and one reason we spent two posts on how to back up SQL (thanks Josiah).

Now, back to upgrading EPDM.

There are just a few steps in the process:

bu resized 600To begin, you’ll need to gather a few things for the trip. 

  1. Download or dvd.
  2. License file
  3. Installation Guide
  4. Name of the machine hosting the SQL service
  5. Windows Admin login/password to the machine hosting the SQL service
  6. Windows Admin login/password to the machine hosting the Archives
  7. SQL Administrator password
  8. EPDM Admin login/password

 Now go get those prerequisites and I’ll see you back here in the blog in a few days.


Upgrading EPDM (part two)

Posted by Keith Vittitoe on Fri, Mar 08, 2013 @ 08:03 AM

Post by Josiah Sansone

(The following assumes you have admin-level access to the server(s) and have warned your constituents that they need to logout of EPDM.)

We left off after completing the Full backup of SQL.  Next, we need to create a maintenance plan to create differential backups along the way. 

It’s up to you to determine how often to create differential backups, but remember that backups for EPDM should be synchronous; that is, a differential backup is no good unless it has a corresponding backup of the archive files located on the Archive server from the same period of time. If you are only making backup copies of your archive files every week, then you only need a differential backup to be performed with the same frequency.  Whatever the frequency, we start by creating a maintenance plan.  Expand the Management section of the SQL Management Console, then right click on Maintenance Plans and select “New Maintenance Plan” and name it “Backup Plan”.  In the new maintenance plan window, double click on the Subplan_1 and rename it “Differential Backups”:

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Then select the calendar icon next to the Schedule line and change the frequency to Daily, and set the time as desired (for our example we will set it at midnight) and make sure “No end date”
is selected and click OK, then click OK again on the Subplan Properties:

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In the maintenance plan, from the left hand lower “Toolbox” panel, drag and drop a “Backup Database Task” for each database that needs to be backed up:

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You may rename the tasks by right clicking on them and selecting rename:

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Double click each task and set the backup type to “Differential”, select the database drop-down and select the database you are backing up (only select one database per task), then select “Back up databases across one or more files:” and click Add and browse to the corresponding full backup that you’ve already created. Make sure that next to “If Backup file exists:” the “Append” selection is chosen.  Click OK, and repeat for the other tasks for each database:

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Now in your maintenance plan window, select the button “Add Subplan” and name it Full Backups. We are going to create a second, less frequent Full backup which will overwrite our old Full backup. The reason for this is that while differential backups do save space as compared to creating a new Full Backup every night and saving them all, they still add size to the original full backup and can eventually become quite large. By creating a new Full backup every few weeks or month, it overwrites the old full backup and all of its appended differential backups, starting fresh. To determine how often to create a new Full backup, simply consider how long you will keep the backed up copies of your archive files. If you will only maintain two weeks of copies of your archive files, then it is only necessary to have two weeks’ worth of differential backups before you start over. Repeat the steps above in the new Subplan to create new tasks for each Database, keeping all the settings for the tasks the same, except selecting “Full” for the backup type, and next to “If backup files exist”, select “Overwrite”:

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Once your tasks are configured, select the calendar button on the Full Backup subplan line to schedule your Full backup.  Choose whatever frequency you desire, but set it to run 10 to 15 minutes after the time you set your differential backup to run, so they do not interfere with each-other.  Now save your maintenance plan, and you’re all done.  You now have a comprehensive backup plan for your EPDM SQL Databases.


Upgrading EPDM (part one)

Posted by Keith Vittitoe on Wed, Mar 06, 2013 @ 08:03 AM

Post by Josiah Sansone

(The following assumes you have admin-level access to the server(s) and have warned your constituents that they need to logout of EPDM.)

If you’re thinking about creating a backup plan for your SQL Databases, the first thing you’ll need to do is properly configure your SQL Database settings. The start, open and log into the SQL Management Console on your Database server.  Once you’re in, right click on the server and select “Properties”:

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In the Server Properties window, select “Database Settings” and then select the checkbox next to “Compress backup”:

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This will default all database backups to be compressed, so they take up less space, and you won’t have to set it for each database backup task. 

Next, you’ll want to select your Recovery Model type.  There are three types of Recovery Models for SQL Databases, but for our purposes, we are only concerned with the Simple Recovery Model, as that is what is recommended by Solidworks for use with EPDM.  By default, SQL Databases are set up with the Full Recovery Model active, so our next step is to change that.  Right click on each of the Databases you will be backing up (At a minimum, this is the ConisioMasterDb  and your Vault database) and select Properties. In the Properties window, select the “Options” section, and then select the Recovery Model drop-down and select “Simple”:

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Hit the OK button and proceed to repeat the above step for each Database that needs to be backed up.  Now that we’ve gotten our Databases ready for backups, we can proceed with setting up our backup chain. A Backup chain consists of a baseline “Full Backup” and a series of “Differential Backups” that are added onto it over time.  Picture the backup chain as a ship’s anchor and chain, with the Full Backup as the anchor and the Differential Backups as links in the chain.

Start by creating a location for your database backups, preferably on a networked or mapped drive, should your server go down. Now, right click each of your databases and select Tasks > Backup:

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On the backup screen, select Backup type “Full” and in the Destination window, remove the default backup location and click Add, then browse to your new backup location, and name the backup with the database name and .bak (Ex.: ConisioMasterDb.bak):

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Click OK and wait for the Database to complete backing up. Repeat this step for each database to be backed up.  Now you have your Anchor for your database chain.

Next, you need to create a maintenance plan to create differential backups along the way.  We'll cover that and finish up the process in te next post.



Upgrade Workgroup (part deux)

Posted by Keith Vittitoe on Mon, Feb 25, 2013 @ 20:02 PM

Now that you're ready for the Workgroup (pdmwg) upgrade, let's get to some specifics.  As I mentioned in the last post, this isn't going to be a step-by-step guide.  There's plenty of sites listing them, they are also in the Installation Guide from SolidWorks, and I recommend you contact your Reseller before upgrading - you are only upgrading once, we get to upgrade dozens of times, so we've seen the issues that crop up and can provide the latest information on any issues. (btw - "known issue" always strikes me as redundant).  If your Reseller doesn't have a document at the ready for upgrading pdmwg, then, well, how to say...

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Stop the service

Stopping the service means going into the Windows Services in the Microsoft Management console and stopping the service named SolidWorks Workgroup PDM Server.  It’s only loaded onto the machine hosting the vault.  We recommend stopping the service to keep anything from changing while upgrading.  That means clients cannot login, so I wouldn’t perform this task unannounced.  Speaking of announcements, you should include a warning that all files need to be checked into the vault if they want to see them again – like a raAnS0m note.  If anyone asks why, make a note – they’re going to be trouble.  You see, someties risk averse, task-oriented, process-driven people (read: engineers) like us don’t like to have one copy of the files we’re working on.  But, we also don’t want anyone to think that we really needed 59 revisions to get our job done, so we don’t check our files into the vault every time we make a change.  We keep a “copy” in the vault.  It’s a bad idea, but it is common.  So, everyone needs encouragement to put ALL of their files into the vault.  They can keep the local cache, but we need all of the files in the vault for upgrading.

Backup the vault

This one is easy.  Your company already makes frequent backups (ahem!).  On the odd chance you are the 1:1,000,000 that needs some help with this one, just stop the vault service, make a copy of the entire vault and put it somewhere safe.  The default name for the folder containing the vault is VaultData.

soapboxSoapbox alert:  Workgroup is a flat-file database.  Said another way, Workgroup is a single-point, one-way database.  If it gets corrupted, it cannot be fixed.  YES, it happens.  Backups aren’t backups unless they are known-good.  Known-good means they are tested.  Tested means they are loaded onto a machine and used.  Yes, that means installing the vault, vault service, and at least the admin tool on a machine and poking around in the vault.  Maybe even go nuts and login to the test vault from a client.  VMWare and a 1TB drive is all you need.  The vault service and admin tool don’t need a license, and the client is already paid for.  The vault represents to sum total of your company’s intellectual property - please treat it that way.

Whew, I feel better now.


Upgrade the Service

I won’t join the uninstall/reinstall versus upgrade debate.  Take your pick.  I upgrade mine.  In either case, to install the new version, the SolidWorks Installation Manager needs to appear on your screen.  Workgroup is under Server Products. 

installationmgr resized 600Upgrade the Admin Tool

The step most often missed is the admin tool install.  To install that on a client that doesn’t have SolidWorks, fire-up the Installation Manager again, select Individual installation and then “change” products on the summary screen.  Expand SolidWorks Explorer/Workgroup PDM->SolidWorks Workgroup PDM VaultAdmin.

NOTE:  If you have an admin image install of SolidWorks on your machine, this won’t work.  You need a new admin image that includes the Workgroup admin tool.

NOTE:  If you have an Individual installation of SolidWorks on your machine, but not the admin tool, don’t clear the check marks for all the products other than the admin tool – you (not “it”) will uninstall everything that has its check mark removed.  There’s a warning, but it gets missed.

Login and Test

Did I mention making a backup?  In any case, when you upgraded or reinstalled, the service started.  However, double-check that by looking into the services running on the machine hosting the vault.  Otherwise, there’s absolutely no indication that things are working properly (awesome, huh?).  Next, go ahead and try to login with the admin tool.  I use “try” because the login won’t work until the new vault service shakes hands with the old vault.  In any case, login and get that blue progress bar running.  Once the service is happy, it will let you in – there’s no harm in letting the login sit there and you’ll feel like you’re making progress.  If you get an error message, take a screenshot and email it to your VAR (you do know your VAR, right?).  There’s no need to panic though, because you have a backup.  I’ve never seen the start-up take more than 30 minutes.  Let me know if yours does - and is a successful upgrade.

Once you have successfully logged in from the admin tool, test logins from the clients.  Logins do not change, so unless the server name changed, the login should go smoothly.


It’s a good idea to validate the vault.  This process forces the vault to “shake-hands” with all the files and make sure the meta-data is intact.  Some recommend this as part of the upgrade process.  I like to get things working as soon as possible and validate once I know everything is running again since database upgrades are stressful.  So, you may choose to do this before you stop the service the first time for the backup.  Either way, know that this can take hours, so cancel your weekend plans.

To validate the vault, in the admin tool select Validate valt and then the option to validate the vault on next start-up. Then stop/start the vault service.

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If you have 2013, you also have the rebuild options shown in the screenshot.  Check out the Help for details on each.


Upgrade Workgroup

Posted by Keith Vittitoe on Fri, Feb 22, 2013 @ 08:02 AM

SolidWorks 2013 sp2 is out and I can see you thinking about upgrading from 2012.  Oh sure, it’s easy to ignore poor sp0 – unfairly judged by sp0’s from the past.  But sp2 … well it’s somehow different, less threatening – a warmer-fuzzier sp0.


There's plenty of info out there on upgrading SolidWorks.  I’ll start with how to upgrade SolidWorks Workgroup PDM (the cool kids here call it “pdmwg”).  There are basically three pieces to upgrade with pdmwg:pdmwg listNotice I did not mention the data.  Also note that the Client side gets upgraded with SolidWorks.

describe the imageWorkGroup 

There are about two dozen actual steps to upgrade and I won’t cover them all.  Before you jump ahead, copy/paste and leave the blog, there are some facts you need to understand:

Fact 1:

PDMWG is a flat-file database.  Translation: back it up before doing a-n-y-t-h-i-n-g.  The default name for the folder that contains the vault is VaultData.  If the vault gets corrupted, you won’t need technical support, you’ll need grief counseling.  It cannot be”repaired”.

Fact 2:

SolidWorks and PDMWG must be on the same major version (e.g.: 2013).  Many Customers get the wrong info on this one.  Yes, older version files can be in the vault (e.g.: *.sldprt).  But, the 2013 vault cannot be accessed from a 2012 seat of SolidWorks.  Translation – the plans to upgrade the SolidWorks seats should be on the ToDo list right after upgrading pdmwg.

Fact 3:

Upgrading the vault service affects access to the files in the vault.  Translation:  All files should be checked into the vault before upgrading the vault service.  Sometimes people have frequently used files in their local cache and forget to check them in, so remind everyone that all files need to be checked into the vault.

Fact 4:

See Fact 1.

Here are the basics:


Simple, huh?  Now for the details…


Where I’m from we call this “fixin’ to get ready.”  Now’s a good time to make sure you really know the admin password, where the vault is, and the size of the vault.  Do you know your serial numbers?  Do you know whether you have Contributor licenses?  Also, you don’t want to surprise everyone with a shut-down of the vault, so a warning is in order.  It’s also time to grab a copy of the vault log.  The tool for getting a copy is on the Vault Settings or Vault Management tab (depending on your installation’s vintage).  Save it, verify it, and then clear it.  Then, if there is some issue during upgrade, we have an easy to read log.

describe the imageFinally, if this is a major version upgrade (2012 to 2013), then have your client upgrades at the ready.  Once the vault is upgraded, the clients won’t be able to login.  Technically, we like to see service packs stay in lock-step also, but things still work.

Now go get ready to upgrade.  Check back in a few days for more detail on upgrading SolidWorks Workgroup PDM.


5 Things You Should do Before Installing SolidWork 2011SP0

Posted by Jess Levasseur on Mon, Oct 18, 2010 @ 12:10 PM

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SolidWorks 2011 SP0 was just made available for download at the SolidWorks Customer Portal.  If you have a current Subscription service contract the download will be available to you.  Before running out and upgrading I wanted to share 5 things that you should do prior to installing. Even if you or your company is not ready to migrate production work to the new version, its a good idea to test out this new version on your data.  SolidWorks and the Beta Testers check out the new code with a lot of designs, but not necessarily your designs. 

  1. Backup -  Backup your Toolbox. It gets migrated during installation and once its converted it can't be used in your old version.  I would also reccomend backing up your settings using the "Copy Settings Wizard."  And most importantly make sure you have backups of any data prior to migrating it to 2011. 

  2. Check your System - Every release the system requirements change.  Check out the SolidWorks site for those minimums.  If your system ran 2010 well, chances are you'll be good for 2011, but if you are skipping a few releases I would strongly reccomend looking at the list.  Graphics Cards and Graphics Drivers are one of the most important things to check at every release.  You may have a driver that worked fine in 2010, but 2011 requires an updated one.  That information is also available at the link above.
  3. Upgrade your license server.  If you have a Network license you must upgrade to the latest version of that in order to run 2011.  The great thing is the license server will serve back to older releases.  So even if you are testing 2011 you can still continue to use 2010.  
  4. Download the SolidProfessor Upgrade training course.  If you are a current CADD Edge customer talk to your account manager about how to get it.  Its a great way to learn the new features in the relase. 
  5. Talk to your Colleagues - Make a plan as to when it makes sense to upgrade. 

This is not a comprehensive check list.  I intended only to address some of the most obvious things that a lot of people miss.  Let me know what you think should be on the list.  We'll be publishing a more comprehensive check list shortly. 




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