Considerations for SOLIDWORKS Network Licensing

IT Considerations for SOLIDWORKS Network Licensing

Table of Contents

SOLIDWORKS Network Licensing (or SNL for short) relies on a lightweight server component to handout licenses to client PCs. As users load SOLIDWORKS products, the appropriate licenses are checked out from the license pool. When a user closes SOLIDWORKS or unloads an add-in such as SOLIDWORKS Simulation, the license is automatically returned to the pool.

If a user knows they need to go off-network, they can “borrow” or temporarily check out a license from the license server. Borrowing a license checks out the license for the assigned period of time (up to 30 days) and removes it from the available license pool. The licenses automatically return after the borrowing period or can be manually returned sooner using the SolidNetworkLicense Manager Client.

What follows are the major technical/IT considerations for deploying the SNL server. For a broader overview of SOLIDWORKS licensing options, consider our article “Everything You Need to Know about SOLIDWORKS Licensing Options.”


Requirements for SOLIDWORKS Network Licensing

The main requirements for running the SNL server are:

  • Supported Microsoft Windows Operating System
  • Network connection between server and client PCs

Let’s discuss these in a little more detail.

Operating Systems

Recommended: Windows Server 2016 or Window Server 2019
Windows 10 64 bit is also supported.

Note: SOLIDWORKS 2020 SNL will not install on Windows Server 2012.

See the latest SOLIDWORKS System Requirements under “SOLIDWORKS Server Products.”

Hardware Requirements

The hardware requirements for the SNL server are insignificant.

SNL installation should consume less than 1 GB of free disk space.

Virtual Environments

Supported VM hypervisors are listed in a subsection of the SOLIDWORKS system requirements page. It is possible to host the SNL on a supported virtual machine with a persistent instance and IP address so long as it also meets the network requirements.

Network Connection

Licenses should be accessed within the company’s LAN or equivalent network. For outside access, it is possible to establish a VPN connection. If connection latency is high, however, this may lead to delays in opening and saving files, as well as loading SOLIDWORKS add-ins. Licenses can also be borrowed over VPN connection.

Network Ports

Network licensing requires that the client PCs can connect to the machine with the SNL server. The connection can be specified by IP address or machine name.
The checkbox “A Firewall is in use on this Server” should typically be checked when using the SNL server. Default ports used by the SNL are 25734 (inbound) and 25735 (outbound) but can be customized.

It’s important to add firewall exceptions to the server so that these ports, and/or the SNL process itself are open for communication with clients.

Check out Network License SNL Troubleshooting Techniques for more info on testing connectivity.

Internet Access*

Initial activation and license updates (such as adding newly purchased products to the license) typically require internet access.

Note: a process exists for “air-gapped” systems that require activating the server without internet access (see the FAQ below for details).


The SNL is installed from the same installation media as SOLIDWORKS. If installation media is needed it can be downloaded from the SOLIDWORKS customer portal using the associated SOLIDWORKS ID.

When installing, choose “Server Products” and “SolidNetWork License Manager,” then follow the onscreen prompts.

On the client side, installations are automatically configured as network licensed based if a network licensed serial number is input and will prompt for the server name and port at time of installation.

Detailed installation guides are available:

2020 SOLIDWORKS Network Server Installation Guide

2020 SOLIDWORKS Network Client Installation Guide

Technical Support

Don’t forget, you aren’t in this alone! If you are a customer of Hawk Ridge Systems on active subscription, you can benefit from our technical support. Email support or use the contact methods below:

Support Portal
United States: 877.266.4469
Canada: 866.587.6803

Frequently Asked Questions

Read on for answers to common questions and additional resources.


Is the SNL “Backwards Compatible”?

Yes. The current generation SNL should be able to serve licenses to client machines running SOLIDWORKS Versions as far back as 2004.

However, the SNL must be upgraded with every release of SOLIDWORKS. It cannot serve licenses to newer versions of SOLIDWORKS than itself.

This means the SNL is the first thing that should be upgraded during any upgrade process.

Can a Client Point to More Than One SNL Server?

Yes, this is one method to achieve redundancy.

Can a Client Utilize a Combination of SNL/Network Licensed and Standalone Products?

Yes. Aside from the network license, other standalone or online activation based serial numbers can be loaded into the client installation.

What Happens in the Event of a Server Outage? How Often Does a SOLIDWORKS Client Check for Licenses?

There is a “heartbeat” signal that gets sent to the SNL server from the client approximately every two minutes, as well as during Open and Save operations and other actions such as loading add-ins.

If the heartbeat is missed or the server is down for a prolonged period of time (typically over 10-15 minutes) the user will eventually receive an error message stating that the network connection has been lost and prompting them to save their work, after which SOLIDWORKS will automatically close.

Can License Usage Be Monitored?

Actively checked out licenses are visible within the SNL License Usage tab. Basic debugging information is stored in a log file (LMGRD.log) in the SNL install directory.

For detailed reporting, our guide SolidNetWork License (SNL) Usage Monitoring recommends some known third party solutions.

Is There a Fee for Establishing a Network License?

There is an initial setup fee for the conversion to network licenses, and per license cost as well as subscription costs are slightly higher than standalone licenses.

Is There a Fee for Removing a License From the Network?

There is also an administrative fee for removing a license from the network and converting it back to standalone as it requires a new SOLIDWORKS serial number to be issued.

What Is the Underlying Technology Used by the SNL?

FlexNet FlexLM Licensing. Advanced configuration is possible through FlexNet options file configuration.

Options File Guide: SolidNetWork License Manager Options File For SOLIDWORKS.

Can Certain Licenses Be Reserved for Particular Users or Groups?

A user that needs a particular license for a while (or off-network) can reserve it by borrowing it from the SNL.

More advanced rules for reserving or restricting licenses for groups of users can be established by editing the SNL options file.

Do Licenses Automatically Time Out?

By default after two hours of inactivity a SOLIDWORKS CAD license will be automatically returned to the license server and prompt the user to save their work. This timeout does not apply by default to add-in products.

Timeouts are adjustable by product from an options file.

Can I Host the SNL On the Same PC that Has a SOLIDWORKS Client Installation?

This is possible, but not recommended for large multi-user environments. The machine with the SNL must remain powered on and connected to the network to ensure other users would have access.

How Does a User Choose Which License is Assigned to Them?

SOLIDWORKS automatically pulls the “least cost” license. Users launching SOLIDWORKS CAD will at first receive a license of SOLIDWORKS Standard until they perform an action that requires a higher version or add-in, in which case the license will be upgraded or swapped.

License order can also be manually controlled by the SolidNetworkManager Client to prioritize pulling certain license types over others.

How Do I Know If a Serial Number is Network or Standalone?

Network Serial Numbers generally start with the digits 9010
Standalone Serial Numbers generally start with the digits 9000

How Do I Add More Products to an Existing SNL?

See our guide: Adding Additional Serial Numbers To An Existing SOLIDWORKS License Server

Can Users Outside the Country Use Our Network Licenses Via VPN or Other Means?

SOLIDWORKS License Agreement states that the software is for use within the country it was purchased. Global Network Licenses are an exception to this.

How Can I Convert Existing Standalone Installations to Network Installations?

See our guide: Converting From A Standalone License To A Network License

How Can the SNL Be Activated Without Internet Connection for An “Air-Gapped” Server?

This is possible through a multi-step process that requires another computer which does have an internet connection.

The license request file can be generated from the offline server and transferred via USB drive to another PC with internet access to email the license request. Once the response file is returned, it can be transferred back to the offline PC via USB drive to complete the activation process.

In either case, once the activation is complete, internet access won’t be needed again unless the license needs to be transferred or reactivated (such as for adding additional products to the SNL server).

Can I Host the License Server On a Cloud Provider (Like AWS or Azure)?

See the notes at the beginning of this document regarding supported virtual machines. Our technical support team will be able to assist with ensuring that the SOLIDWORKS SNL runs on a supported virtual machine platform, but there are additional IT considerations that must be overcome such as enforcing that the virtual machine maintains a persistent image and providing for connectivity to clients.

Additional Resources

You may also be interested in the following Hawk Ridge Systems YouTube videos:

SOLIDWORKS Network License Manager Installation

Adding Firewall Port Exceptions for the SOLIDWORKS License Server

SOLIDWORKS: Using the SNL Client

Borrowing and Transferring SOLIDWORKS Licenses

For more information on SOLIDWORKS and if you have any related questions, contact us at Hawk Ridge Systems today. Thanks for reading!

Picture of Ryan Navarro

Ryan Navarro

Ryan Navarro is a mechanical engineer and an avid SOLIDWORKS user since 2007. As product manager for CFD analysis, he specializes in complex simulations related to fluid flow, as well as structural interactions and mold filling.
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