Backing up PDM

Categories // Data Management, Tips & Tricks

PDM Standard

Written by: Michael Nolte, Application Engineer

With more and more companies using SOLIDWORKS PDM Standard, it’s a good idea to go over how to make your PDM server backups. Some companies are already using ‘snapshots’ of their virtual server environment software as their backup, but if you ever need to move your PDM server, you’ll need these steps for that process also. It is still good to have a manual backup just in case something happens with your virtual server environment ‘snapshots’; maybe once a week or once a month. Better safe than losing years of work.

There are 3 Basis steps, but I like to do a 4th as an extra step. The steps are:

  1. make a backup of your PDM configuration settings
  2. make a backup of the file Archive
  3. make a backup of the SQL databases
  4. (optional) make a .cex settings file from the PDM Administration program.

Theses backups then need to be copied, moved, or backed up to somewhere off of the server system. This can be done with a 3rd party backup program or just copied to a USB external drive. These backup procedures are best done after hours so that they are no check-in/check-out processes going on during the backups, specifically for Step 2 and 3 below.

Step 1: PDM Configuration Settings (‘backup.dat’)

This file is all of your vault specific settings.

  • On the PDM server open the ‘Archive Server Configuration’ program, normally located in the Windows Start Menu, SOLIDWORKS PDM folder.
  • In the ‘Archive Server Configuration’ program > Tools Menu > Select ‘Backup Settings’

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  • Select ‘Include all vaults’
  • Set the ‘Backup Location’ to somewhere that is easy to get to and is part of your scheduled backed up folders.
  • The default schedule is to backup every day at midnight; you can keep this setting or change it by clicking the ‘…’ button. If you use a 3rd party backup software, I recommend configuring this backup to be 20-30 minutes before your folders and files are copied off the system.
  • I recommend blanking out the password and the confirm password fields. If you need to restore a backup and the password wasn’t well documented, then it may not be possible to restore the vault.
  • Clicking the ‘Launch backup’ button creates a PDM Configuration Settings (‘backup.dat’) file right away.
  • Clicking the ‘OK’ button sets the schedule for the PDM Configuration Settings (‘backup.dat’) file to be made at its next scheduled

Step 2: Vault Archive Folder Backup

This is where all the files that are checked in are stored and can be the largest item to backup.

  • The first part of this step is finding where the PDM Archive folder is currently at.
  • If you still have the ‘Archive Server Configuration’ program open from Step 1, you can use the ‘Relocate’ option to find which folder is being used. Right-click on the Vault, Select Relocate, Note the ‘Selected Location’, Click the Cancel button.


  • Another way is to cautiously find the location in the Windows Registry here:
    “HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\SOLIDWORKS\Applications\PDMWorks Enterprise\ArchiveServer\Vaults\<vaultname>\ArchiveTable\”
  • Once the folder is located, it’s just a copy of the folder or 3rd party software backup of the vault folder. You will know that it’s an Archive folder because there will be 16 folders going from “0” to “F”

Step 3: Backup of the SQL Databases

There will be at least 2 databases that need to be backed up. One will be named ‘ConisioMasterDb’ and the second will most likely be the same name as the PDM vault. If you have more than one vault, those will be needed to be backed up also. The SQL database backups need to be close to the same time as the Vault Archive folder backup that was done in Step 2. This way, the two items are in sync with each other.

  • If the ‘Microsft SQL Server Management Studio’ program isn’t already installed on the server then browse to your SOLIDWORKS install files, DVD or Download to install it.

    It is located here for 2018:
    ‘\SolidWorks Downloads\SOLIDWORKS 2018 SP01\SQLMNGMNT\ssms-setup-enu.exe’

    For older versions, it will be call ‘sqlmanagementstudio_x64_enu.exe’

    Here is a tech article for the specific install steps: https://www.sqlshack.com/how-to-install-sql-server-2014-management-studio/

  • Open the ‘Microsft SQL Server Management Studio’ program, login with windows authentication or if you have the ‘SA’ and password. Be sure to login to the SQL instance that PDM is installed on. It will most likely be: <ServerName>\SWPDM. If it is not this same name, you can browse for the instance name. You’ll know you have the correct SQL instance name because you will see ‘ConisioMasterDb’ under databases.
  • Expand ‘Databases’, right click over ‘ConisioMasterDb’, select ‘Tasks’, select ‘Back Up’


  • Setup the location of where the backup is going to be saved to. Make sure to give it a name and end the name with .bak

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  • Change to the Media Options category on the left side, then set the options to include ‘Overwrite all existing backup sets’, ‘Verify backup when finished’, ‘Perform checksum before writing to media’

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  • Click ‘OK’ and make sure that process is ‘completed successfully’
  • Repeat this for the database that matches your PDM vault, with a different name, maybe one that matches your vault name. If there are any additional test or secondary vault databases, those will need to be backed up also. Use the same settings from the ‘ConisioMasterDb’. The PDM vault databases will take longer then the ‘ConisioMasterDb’ backup and will be much large in size, most of the time.

Step 4): Make Another Settings Bbackup File from the PDM Administration Program (Optional, but recommended)

This step is useful because I can open this .cex file and restore an individual setting without a full vault settings restore that is done with the ‘backup.dat’ file from Step 1. This extra step only needs to be done after a big change, once a month, or when you remember to do it.

  • Open the Administration program, either on the server or on a client system. This system will need to have a vault view folder for this process. Windows Start Menu > SOLIDWORKS PDM folder > Administration
  • Login to the vault
  • Right-click on the vault and select Export. This will open an ‘Administrative Export File1’ Window.

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  • Go to the File menu from the main Administration program, and select save or save as.
  • Save this .cex file to a location that is getting copied or backup by your 3rd party backup software.
  • I like to name this something like: ‘Name of vault – Date – Full settings backup.cex’ i.e. ‘PDMStd 01152018 Full settings Backup.cex’

Let’s get PDM backed up and protect your data.

For more information, you can also reference the ‘SOLIDWORKS PDM Installation Guide