Solidworks error opening file

Solidworks error opening file DEFAULT

Corrupted SOLIDWORKS File Tips

Corrupted SOLIDWORKS Files

Chances are, if you’re reading this blog, you’re dealing with a possible corrupted SOLIDWORKS file and you’re wondering why this happened and what you can do to fix it.

First off, lets cover some of the reasons files get corrupted and how you can avoid these in the future.

Power Outage

While uncommon, a power outage or even power surge can cause all sorts of issues with all software and hardware. SOLIDWORKS is no exception, if you were in the middle of a save or file transfer, this can definitely cause problems. Look into a backup power supply device if you want to minimize damages from a power fluctuation.

Unexpected Application Termination

This could be related to a power surge, but also applies to unexpected crashes, or even a forced user termination of the application. Not all application hangs are the same, sometimes it pays to have patience. Tech Tip: You can always use the Windows Resource Monitor to see if SOLIDWORKS is still busy running a command or actually hanging.

Hardware Problems

This is the faulty hard-drive or memory fault. This one is hard to prepare for. One recommendation is to have backups of your files in case of hardware failure. If you suspect your hardware integrity is faulty or failing, refer to your local IT technician to determine whether new hardware is recommended or needed.

Network Issues

This is probably the most common cause of file corruption. This includes working over any remote network, server or cloud service. There are often too many variables to pinpoint the exact cause of corruption while saving over a network. These are most often remedied by your local Network Administrator. Our best advice is to work locally whenever possible. SOLIDWORKS PDM is another great solution as it automatically caches file locally.

Read/Write Issues

This one may cover network issues as well. But more specifically, this can be related to a service that locks access or permissions to the file such as a OneDrive or DropBox. If you automatically sync your files, SOLIDWORKS may try to access the file at the same time Windows is accessing the file, locking it out from other applications. Again, our best advice is to work locally whenever possible.

So how can you tell if your file is corrupted and can you recover it?

I want to stress that not all corruptions are the same. You may get a different error depending on whether the file is recoverable or not.

The most common and generic error message you may receive is the following:

This does not provide a lot of information, however, there is still a chance some or all of the file is recoverable. I’ll cover some common troubleshooting techniques you can use if you get this error later in the blog.

Tech Tip: Check the file size of the corrupted file. A file size of 0KB means there is no information in the file and it is not recoverable.

You may also receive a message that the file can be repaired:

If you get either of these messages, SOLIDWORKS will attempt a repair of the file. Note that if you choose to recover geometry from your part, it will effectively become an imported part with no feature history.

Tech Tip: The ability for SOLIDWORKS to automatically repair a file is only available in 2017 and newer and the ability to recover geometry is only available in 2018 and newer versions.

And finally, the last message you may receive is:

Which means that there is little to no chance of recovery. When you receive this error, you should spend your time trying to find out how the file got corrupted and not if it’s recoverable.

So how do you know if your file is recoverable?

These are common techniques we use on tech support to determine if the information in the file is recoverable. Give these a try before calling support, however if you do contact us, we’d be happy to walk through these steps with you.

Drawing Troubleshooting:

If you have a corrupt Drawing file, start with the referenced Part or Assembly files. Are you able to open each Part/Assembly individually? You may find the Drawing is only corrupt because of a corrupt Part/Assembly reference. If you find you do have a corrupt Part or Assembly, see Part Troubleshooting or Assembly Troubleshooting.

Tech Tip: You can also test for reference corruption by removing or renaming the Part/Assembly files from the data set. If the Drawing file opens with all empty views, you know there is reference corruption and not Drawing file corruption.

We can also narrow down corruption to individual sheets in a Drawing. A great test you can perform is to open your Drawing in Quick View and load sheets individually.

Tech Tip: You can find these Open options by going to File > Open inside SOLIDWORKS.

If the Drawing file opens in Quick View, you can then Right-Click each sheet individually and load them one by one. If SOLIDWORKS crashes when loading a specific sheet, you can see if the reference on that sheet is causing the issue or just delete that sheet from the Feature Tree and recreate it.

Assembly Troubleshooting:

Just like with Drawings, Assembly files may report as corrupt because a specific reference in the Assembly is corrupt and not the entire Assembly. You can troubleshoot this by trying to open each Part or Subassembly file individually or removing the Part\Subassembly files completely.

We can also test this by just suppressing all the Part\Subassembly files in an Assembly, but if we can’t even open the Assembly, how can we suppress anything?

There is a unique open mode we can use to do just this. Go to File > Open inside SOLIDWORKS and select the Assembly file but do not hit open yet.

Under the Configuration drop-down, select <Advanced> then hit Open.

Select to create a new configuration showing assembly structure only. Give the new configuration a name such as “Test”. This will attempt to open the Assembly with a newly generated configuration with all Parts/Subassemblies suppressed.

You can then systematically unsuppress each Part or Subassembly until you find the reference that does not open.

Tech Tip: To speed up this process, you can also CTRL + Select or SHIFT + Select multiple Parts/Subassemblies and unsupress them in groups.

Once you identify the problematic file, you can either replace it, delete it or attempt to repair it.

Part Troubleshooting:

The Part file is probably the hardest to troubleshoot for corruption, however, here are some steps you can take to see if the Part is recoverable.

First, take a look at the file size. If the file size reports 0KB, there is no information in the file to be recovered.

If the file does have information in it, check if the file is located on a network or cloud location. If it is, it is best to remove any network connectivity issues from the equation by copying the file locally and trying to open again.

If it still does not open locally, you can try another computer. It may be best to contact your VAR Technical Support and send the file in for further testing in another environment if no other computers are available to you.

At this point it may also be worth it to see if you have a previous save or backup file available. You may lose some work, but less than starting over.

As a last resort, we can escalate your file to SOLIDWORKS Technical Support to repair your Part file. However if you are considering this option, it’s important to understand that this process can take up to 3+ days and there is no guarantee SOLIDWORKS will be able to repair the file. In a lot of cases, it is faster to just recreate the file from scratch.

Jordan Puentes
Application Engineer
Computer Aided Technology, Inc


Corrupted SOLIDWORKS Files FAQ

NOTE: Unsuppressing groups of parts at a time will speed up the process and still allow for narrowing down the problematic reference file(s). If the corrupted file is a subassembly, then repeat this process for the subassembly.

  • Just like troubleshooting the drawing, replacing the corrupted file in the dataset with a remodeled version should allow the assembly to be opened without errors.


  • Lastly, troubleshooting a corrupted part (reference) file is not so easy. If a corrupted part file is being opened straight from a network storage, try to copy and paste the file from the server to the local drive and then open it. Sometimes the file can be opened from the local drive if the user is just experiencing poor network performance.
  • If the file cannot be opened after copying it to the local drive, then (most likely) the file has become corrupted. At this point, users should contact their VAR (Value Added Reseller) Technical Support, who can give them advice on how to proceed.

Can a corrupt file be repaired?

SOLIDWORKS 2017 (and later) has functionality that can attempt a repair if the software determines there is enough data. This attempt will not produce a full feature tree with editable features. The software will attempt to recover the geometry much like it does when importing a universal file type such as a STEP, PARASOLID, or IGES file.

In rare cases, SOLIDWORKS Tech Support can repair a corrupted file, however there are a couple of things to consider. One is that a Service Request will have to be submitted to SOLIDWORKS on the user's behalf by their VAR. The VAR will help in determining whether or not the file is a candidate for an attempted repair. The other thing to consider is that it can take up to 3 days before SOLIDWORKS can process the request; even then SOLIDWORKS still might not be able to repair the file. With these things in mind a user may determine that it would be more expedient to start over and remodel the corrupted file or find an older working version that can be updated.

I hope this has helped in understanding how SOLIDWORKS files get corrupted and what can be done about it. Thank you for visiting the GoEngineer blog. 

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Why is SOLIDWORKS unable to locate my Assembly Components?

I’m sure you’ve seen this before.  After opening up a SOLIDWORKS assembly file, there is a message that a file cannot be located and you must browse for it yourself or the component will be suppressed.  Or perhaps this message was dismissed so the assembly opens fine but a lot of the geometry is missing and components are suppressed.

Unable to locate file

Unable to locate file message


So why is SOLIDWORKS unable to locate my Assembly Components? Well, there’s a good chance that you’ve moved, renamed or deleted a file without following proper procedures.  If this is done without the use of the SOLIDWORKS Explorer functionality, then the SolidWorks assembly references will not be updated, and the assembly will still search the old location for the old filename and fail to find it.  Be sure to follow best practices when moving or renaming files as shown in the related tech tip: How to Rename and Move SOLIDWORKS Files.

But what if you don’t recall changing anything?  What if you can still browse to the file in Windows Explorer and it’s still there just as you left it?  Well, SOLIDWORKS still has to follow a search routine and perhaps something changed on your server.  Maybe a folder was renamed or moved?

Here is the actual search routine that SolidWorks follows to find the referenced components when assemblies and drawings are opened: 2014 Help – Search Routine

Could you follow all those steps?  Not exactly as simple as just looking for the file in the last folder it was saved.  That’s because SolidWorks has a complex search routine where it actually has to fail 12 steps before it asks you to browse for the file.  But it’s not going to search through your entire hard drive or network to find one small part file.  That would take way too long, unless you are using the magic of SOLIDWORKS PDM.

About the SolidWorks file search process:

1) If your assembly has a component named “bolt.sldprt” in it, and you have a different part file open in the background with the same name “bolt.sldprt”, it will always use the open document and potentially use the wrong file and cause mate errors.  This is why it is very important to use unique filenames for all components.

2) This is important as it shows a way to force assemblies to look to a different folder.  Perhaps a folder was renamed on a server.  To force the assembly references to look to this new folder name, add this folder to Referenced Documents in the File Locations options.

**Be sure to also enable the option “Search file locations for external references” under External References**

Add Referenced Documents

Add Referenced Documents


Search file locations for external references

Search file locations for external references

3 thru 5) Here’s the bonus, if you changed the name of an upper level folder, it will recursively search through the subfolders if they still have the same names.  So if on your server you changed a folder to “S:\Renamed Folder” but there are a bunch of subfolders with the original names, you only need to add the S:\Renamed Folder to the Reference Documents list and it will automatically search through to the subfolders.

6) This is just saying that it will start the search again from the top level folder path listed in Referenced Documents if applicable.  For example if you added the folder “S:\Folder1\Folder2”, it will start again searching in “S:\Folder1” and recursively search down through the subfolders.

7) If you have other folders listed in Referenced Documents, it will go through Steps 2-6 again with these folder paths

8) Starts recursively searching in the folder where your active open document is located

9) Probably searching the same active directory as the document you just opened, unless your dragged and dropped the assembly from Windows Explorer to open.  Then it will search in the directory of the last file that was opened via File > Open.

10) If the assembly was able to locate some other parts in your assembly, it will search in the same directory as the last part it found.

11) Searches the last folder path where the file was last saved, but removes the mapped drive letter and uses UNC path.  This is important for when a mapped drive letter is changed.

12) Finally it actually searches in the last known location of the file, which you would expect.  The last known location of the file is listed under the Component Properties.

Access Component Properties

Access Component Properties

Model Document Path

Last known Model Document Path

13) And finally after an exhaustive search that only took milliseconds, you get the “Browse for file” dialog if it still cannot locate the reference

So therefore, you can see that the Referenced Documents list in the options can be very useful to update references if you know where the files are located and is different from the path in the Component Properties.  Once the assembly is opened with these new references and saved, the Component Properties will automatically update the “Model Document Path” so the Referenced Documents folder is actually no longer required the next time.


According to Murphy's Law, file corruption will occur shortly before a deadline. Nobody wants to redo work they've already done with the clock bearing down on them. Regardless of what caused a file to become corrupt (random network glitches, bad geometry imported from other CAD formats, power fluctuations, improper shutdowns, sunspots, ancient curses) SOLIDWORKS provides some powerful tools to help us find and fix problems. If an assembly won't open the problem is most likely an individual component of that assembly. To fix it, first we must figure out which one it is. Or just let SOLIDWORKS do it for you!

Auto Repair Function

SOLIDWORKS 2017 added an automatic function for repairing corrupted files. If you try to open a corrupt file it may be able to repair, a dialog box will ask Would you like SOLIDWORKS to attempt to repair the file? Give it a shot! The tool attempts to identify damaged segments, remove them and save a copy of the original. If damaged components were removed, the repaired assembly will open without them. You can take it from there.

Restore from a Backup

If you have Auto-recover and Backup options enabled, and the corruption happened recently, you may be in luck. Try restoring from the file paths listed under Options > System Options > Backup/Recover.

File Backup in SOLIDWORKS
Make sure you have the Windows File Explorer set to view hidden items so you can browse to those paths.
Hidden view in SOLIDWORKS

Click to enlarge

If Auto Repair fails and a backup copy is either not available, too out of date or also corrupt, all is not lost. We have yet more tools at our disposal.

Advanced Configuration Method

My favorite way of finding a corrupt component is by creating a troubleshooting configuration from the Open dialog box. This method has been available since SOLIDWORKS 2012, so if you're behind by a few releases you can still get the job done. Use the following procedure:

  1. Launch SOLIDWORKS with no files open. Click on Open.
  2. Browse to the assembly which won't open and select it, but do not hit Open yet.
  3. From the Configuration drop-down menu select Advanced.

Advanced configuration method in SOLIDWORKS

  1. Click on Open to bring up the Configure Document dialog box.
  2. Select New configuration showing assembly structure only and type in the name of your choice.

Document configuration in SOLIDWORKS

  1. Click Ok to open the assembly in the new configuration with all components suppressed.
  2. Right-click the first component in the tree and select Set to Resolved.

If the base component loaded successfully, work your way down the tree resolving components until you find one that fails. If it's a subassembly, repeat this procedure on that file to narrow down which component is corrupt. If you find a corrupt part, you can remove it from the assembly and replace it as you see fit.

Large Design Review Mode Method

This handy feature was also added way back in SOLIDWORKS 2012 so even large assemblies can open very fast. Only the bare minimum component data is loaded in memory, just enough for the assembly to be displayed and examined.

This method loads more data than the Advanced Configuration method does, but it's still likely to work for troubleshooting. A major difference here is you'll be able to see the components before you fully load them into RAM. Use the following procedure:

  1. Launch SOLIDWORKS with no files open. Click Open.
  2. Browse to the assembly which won't open and select it, but do not click on Open yet.
  3. Under the Mode settings select Large Design Review, then open the file.


     4. Click Ok on the Large Design Review popup if it appears.
     5. Click on Selective Open on the Large Design Review Command Manager tab.

Selective open option in SOLIDWORKS

  1. Select a part in the FeatureManager Tree you think is probably not corrupt, then click on Open Selected.

If you got this far you will no longer be in Large Design Review mode. The part you selected will be fully loaded into memory and all other components will be hidden. A popup will warn you about hidden components note being loaded in memory.

Under normal circumstances hiding components only makes them invisible to us, but all the data is still in RAM for SOLIDWORKS to use. With this method you can start showing components one by one, and as each is shown it will also be fully loaded. When one of them fails, you have found your corrupt component.

I suggest expanding the Display Pane to speed this job up. (Small flyout arrow at the top right of the Manager tabs above the tree.) Instead of selecting components one at a time and picking the creepy eyeball icon from the popup toolbar, you can toggle hide/show status with one click. However, it may not be available if you didn't select the Edit assembly checkbox next to Large Design Review in the Open dialog box.

Edit assembly option in SOLIDWORKS

Inserting the Assembly as a Subassembly

If you find you can't open the assembly at all, but you can load all the subassemblies and other components individually, there is a good chance your SLDASM file itself is the problem. You may still be able to salvage your work without re-creating the assembly. Use this procedure:

  1. Launch SOLIDWORKS with no files open.
  2. Create a new, empty assembly using the same template as the corrupt assembly, if possible.
  3. Insert the corrupt assembly into the new one as a subassembly. Hit the green check without dropping the assembly in the graphics area to automatically fix the assembly origins and default planes together.

Inserting subassembly into SOLIDWORKS assembly

  1. Right-click the subassembly in the FeatureManager Tree and select Dissolve Subassembly to move its components to the top level of the new assembly.
  2. Save the new SLDASM file with a new name, and test to make sure it works.

In rare cases when none of these methods work, it’s possible SOLIDWORKS Technical Support can recover a corrupted file. This often fails, and even when successful processing the service request will take a few days. In many cases recreating the assembly is the best option. But using the above methods, there's an excellent chance you won’t have to burn the midnight oil to make that poorly timed deadline.

If you want to learn more about assemblies in SOLIDWORKS, watch our on-demand webinar TriMech Tips and Tricks: Assemblies, where our Application Engineer routs out a multitude of tips and tricks he has learned from many years of experience.

Stream the Webinar


Error opening file solidworks

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SOLIDWORKS - How to Open an Assembly in a New Configuration

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