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SOLIDWORKS File Management

File management is always essential in a company especially when it is involved in any engineering process.

SOLIDWORKS is a software which requires a proper file management in order to save time and increase the efficiency in every task.

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Have you ever seen this message when you are working on an assembly in SOLIDWORKS? This happens when there is a broken reference between the SOLIDWORKS files. It is a common issue faced by a lot of SOLIDWORKS users especially when a proper file management system is not used.
To avoid this issue, first we have to understand the file structure of SOLIDWORKS files.
Understand SOLIDWORKS Files
A SOLIDWORKS file is structured to be a single point database, meaning that each piece of information is stored in only one file. If a file requires an information from another file, it needs to refer to the file where the information is stored instead of copying the entire information. This will create external references, which are the links between the SOLIDWORKS documents.
For example, when a part is used in an assembly, the assembly refers to the part rather than copying the information to itself. This in turn will keep the file of assemblies at a minimum size.
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Broken Reference
A problem will arise when there is a broken reference between the files. This usually happens when a file was moved or renamed. Due to this, SOLIDWORKS is unable to locate the current file location or even its new given name.
As a result, an error message will pop out and it will notify that:
• You renamed the file & SOLIDWORKS does not know the new file name
• You renamed the folder & SOLIDWORKS does not know the new path
• You moved the file & SOLIDWORKS does not know where you moved it to
• You deleted the file (which is the worst)

What are the solutions?

When there is a broken reference, what should we do?
Here are the 3 steps to take in order to recover a broken reference in SOLIDWORKS:
a) Open the model in RAM
One way to re-establish an assembly’s or a drawing file’s lost reference is to open the model in RAM (Provided that the file name is not changed).
b) Manually re-pointing the reference
Re-point the file references by selecting “File > Open” and then select the “References” button.

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Re-pointing the “References” manually, one at a time is error prone, tedious & time consuming.
c) Manually renaming, moving and replacing file
Right click on a file and select “Rename”

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This method will Update “Where Used” BUT only the file references contained in the same folder, it will not search in any  other folder.


file management 6A broken reference can indeed cause a lot of inconveniences. Fortunately, in SOLIDWORKS we have tools to aid our users in file management! This includes SOLIDWORKS Explorer and SOLIDWORKS PDM.
If you wish find out more about SOLIDWORKS’ File Management, please come and join our file management class in March.