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The Difference Between Auto-Recover and Backup Functions in SOLIDWORKS

SOLIDWORKS auto recover vs solidworks backupA good practice when working in SOLIDWORKS is to save your work regularly and to save it often. SOLIDWORKS provides two functions to help prevent data loss in case the software unexpectedly terminates: auto-recover and backup. See side-by-side comparisons and the difference between the auto-recover function and backup function here.  

What is the SOLIDWORKS auto-recover function?

The SOLIDWORKS auto-recover function works by automatically saving information about your active part, assembly, and drawing after a specified amount of time has elapsed without a Save. When you do save, the auto-recover file is deleted (the model in RAM is the same as the model in the hard drive). If you make a change to your model in RAM, the auto-recover time clock is reset. 

Where is the Auto-Recover function located in SOLIDWORKS? 

The Auto-Recover settings are located in Tools>Options>System Options> Backup/Recover.

location of solidworks auto recover

Specify the time interval to write the auto-recover (I chose 20 minutes) and create a new folder for your auto-recover files. You must have write access to the auto-recover folder and hidden files visible within your Windows Explorer options. 

With these settings, after 20 minutes without a Save, the auto-recover file is created in the specified folder and the time clock is reset. I can continue working and if there is an unexpected termination of SOLIDWORKS, at most only 20 minutes of work will be lost.

solidworks auto recover

The auto-recover file is available if SOLIDWORKS shuts down unexpectedly (e.g., in the case of a crash or loss of power). 

Auto-recover for SOLIDWORKS 2017 or earlier

When restarting SOLIDWORKS 2017 or earlier versions, there will be an Auto-Recover tab in the Task Pane. 

Auto-recover for SOLIDWORKS 2018 or later

When restarting SOLIDWORKS 2018 or later versions, a red dot will appear in the Welcome Dialog house icon and on the Alerts tab indicating a new alert. The auto-recovered document is located in a new Troubleshooting section of the Alerts tab of the Welcome Dialog box. You can select Ope All or right-click on the file name and select Open or Delete. 

SOLIDWORKS auto-recover 2019

What is the SOLIDWORKS backup function?

The SOLIDWORKS backup function stores additional copies of the original files before any changes are saved. When saving, SOLIDWORKS stores:

  • One version before the changes in the new folder and names it Backup(1 )of filename.sldprt, 
  • The changed model in the original project folder  

With each subsequent save, the original file is overwritten in the project folder as usual and the backup files are renamed (e.g., existing Backup (1) is renamed to Backup (2), existing Backup (2) is reamed Backup (3), etc.) ensuring that Backup (1) is always the latest backup. 

The SOLIDWORKS backup function can save up to 10 backups of each file. Backups should be saved in a new folder, local on your system, specified in the System Options.  (Tip: Saving backups to the same location as the original is not a good practice because you risk losing the backup information if the original information becomes corrupt.) 

Where is the Backup function located in SOLIDWORKS? 

The backup function in SOLIDWORKS is located in Tools>Options>System Options>Backup/Recover.

SOLIDWORKS backup function

Here’s a short video showcasing SOLIDWORKS back up functionality. 

The final option in the System Options>Backup/Recover page is “Save notification”. These settings control the popup reminder in the lower right corner of the SOLIDWORKS screen informing you that the document has not been saved in the preset number of minutes. 

solidworks backup location

Note: The auto-recover and backup functions in SOLIDWORKS may be helpful in a pinch but should not be relied on as a backup utility. The best way to prevent data loss is to Save or Ctrl-S often and regularly. 

Those are the differences between the auto-recover and backup functions in SOLIDWORKS. For more SOLIDWORKS tips and tricks be sure to subscribe.

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About the Author

Laura Nickerson is an Application Engineer with Fisher Unitech. She has 17 years of experience in the consumer appliance industry working as an industrial designer and mechanical designer.  Laura is detail-oriented, a problem solver, and is listed as co-inventor in over 40 patents.