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What is the SOLIDWORKS TIMEOUT Option?

This article discusses the TIMEOUT setting which can be used in an Options file.

What Is The TIMEOUT Option?

TIMEOUT is an option available for SOLIDWORKS administrators or anyone who needs more control over their SOLIDWORKS SolidNetwork License environment. The TIMEOUT option allows for specifying the length of time SOLIDWORKS can remain idle until the license is returned to the server.


Only network licenses can benefit from the TIMEOUT option. There is no need for this functionality with standalone licenses, because they do not rely on a server. There is no "pool" of licenses from which a standalone license draws from.

Utilizing The TIMEOUT Option

"Timeout" is not an option in the standard sense. That is to say, it is not found in the System Options. It is not even accessible to the standard SOLIDWORKS user. Rather, it requires a special file known as an Options file.

An Options file is nothing more than a simple text file. Creating an Options file is quite easy, but will be a topic for another article. Understanding what the TIMEOUT option actually does is where we will focus. There is a good chance it isn't what you think it is.

What Does "Idle" Mean?


SOLIDWORKS is idle when the user has no control over the SOLIDWORKS user interface (UI). This does not necessarily mean inactivity on the users part. For example, if a user leaves SOLIDWORKS running on their computer, then decides to take a lunch break, SOLIDWORKS is not idle. A coworker could still walk by and choose to move the mouse.

Another example would be if a user left SOLIDWORKS open on their computer and decided to go home for the night. SOLIDWORKS is still running. Nobody is actually interacting with the software, but that doesn't matter. The program is still running, and theoretically, somebody could interact with the software. Even if the cleaning crew left and there isn't another soul in the building, SOLIDWORKS does not know that. The UI is still accessible, and therefore, not idle.

Inactivity Versus Inaccessibility

Inactivity means there is nobody interacting with the UI. Inaccessibility means nobody can interact with the UI, even if the computer were sitting right in front of them and they held the mouse in their hand. The user has no control over the UI.

One example of where the user would have no control over the UI would be if they put their computer to sleep. This can easily be done with a desktop system. Some laptops will enter sleep mode automatically simply by closing the cover. If SOLIDWORKS were still running at this time, it is considered to be idle.


A second example of an idle situation is when the software gets hung up or freezes. Most of us have probably experienced a frozen screen at some point. We are working along, try to do something, and SOLIDWORKS becomes unresponsive. Maybe the cursor even stops moving, the menus no longer work, clicking on icons does nothing. SOLIDWORKS is considered to be idle.

Default TIMEOUT Length

In a situation where SOLIDWORKS is unresponsive, the TIMEOUT option probably isn't going to come into play. Most people will realize nothing is going to happen, so they give their computer the three finger salute (Ctrl-Alt-Del), pull up the Task Manager, kill the SOLIDWORKS thread, and restart SOLIDWORKS.

There are those that will wait it out, depending on what they were doing when the software became unresponsive. One scenario might be generating a very large feature pattern. In such a case, they may decide to let the software continue to run, and simply walk away, go do something else, or leave for the night.

After 2 hours, which is the default TIMEOUT interval, the SOLIDWORKS license will be released. Be aware, though, there may be a fine line between a slow response and completely unresponsive. Consider a situation where a command is being run and it just happens to be taking a very long time. There are some commands that will allow for hitting the Escape key to cancel or break off the command. In this case, the UI isn't really inaccessible. The TIMEOUT option will not be triggered.

The SOLIDWORKS Heartbeat

SOLIDWORKS network licenses have a heartbeat. The heartbeat is a process that communicates with the server and renews the license every 2 minutes. The heartbeat will stop when a computer enters sleep mode. Heartbeats stop during rebuilds. Heartbeats will stop during certain types of simulation studies, where the user has no ability to interact with the UI.


The default TIMEOUT interval is 2 hours, but it can be set as low as 15 minutes. The 15 minute time span is typically set by an administrator who is under the false assumption that "idle" means the user has walked away from their computer with SOLIDWORKS running, and they want to be able to automatically return the license to the pool. As we have learned, that is not what "idle" means. Under normal circumstances, SOLIDWORKS will never shut down on it's own if the user leaves the software running.

When the TIMEOUT is set too low, it can interfere with normal operations. Simulation studies can easily take longer than 15 minutes to run. Wouldn't it be annoying to find yourself in the middle of running a complex simulation study, only to find your license was lost and SOLIDWORKS shut down prematurely?

What Is The Best Timeout Value?

After everything we have discussed, if you still feel the Timeout option is useful to you, ask yourself if you need something other than the default 2 hour timeout setting. If so, then it will be necessary to employ an Options file, which will be discussed in another post. Ideally, users should be instructed to shut SOLIDWORKS down at the end of the work day. If they don't, Timeout isn't going to come into play anyway, unless the computer enters sleep mode.

Test out different TIMEOUT values to see what works best. It's an easy setting to change once the Options file is created. If the SOLIDWORKS user base is prone to working with large assembly or feature sets that require lengthy rebuilds, or running simulation studies that take hours, you want to ensure the Timeout option is set to allow for those time spans.

You may very well find it's better to educate the user base to shut SOLIDWORKS down when they are done working. Licenses will then be returned to the pool and others can utilize them. That truly is the best "option" when sharing licenses in a network environment.

Click here to learn more about creating an Options file.