Recently, we've had an increase of questions asking about how to work from home with their Autodesk software. And as either an Autodesk Software user or an IT Administrator, if you're keen to know your options then please read on.
Note that this article is discussing licensing and installation aspects of Autodesk software, but not the actual remote workflows that may be needed with your CAD applications when working from home.
30 Day Trial Mode
Firstly, understand that anyone can obtain the current version of Autodesk Software (at time of writing, we're transitioning from release 2020 to release 2021 over the coming weeks) and run the software in trial mode for 30 days. There may be reasons as to why the trial may not work immediately, but generally speaking, running the software in "Serial Number" / "Standalone" mode will grant that active user 30 days to use the software before locking them out. More on this later... but for now, most users should be able to download the software and use it in trial mode.
Downloading your software
There are three common ways to download Autodesk software to your home computer;
Autodesk Manage Portal
And of particular interest, when using the Autodesk Manage Portal to download your software, use the "Browser Download" method that's detailed here;
Autodesk Virtual Agent
The Autodesk Virtual Agent is a chatbot that can be used to download Autodesk software (limited to the current version for anonymous users) and also for its activation (more on activation below, it's only required in some situations).
Autodesk Desktop App
The Autodesk Desktop App can be downloaded, installed, and then once a user has logged in with their Autodesk ID, they'll be able to access the installer for any Single-User licenses that have been assigned to them. The Autodesk Desktop App may already be installed on your computer if you've installed any Autodesk software previously over the past 5 or so years - you'll find the shortcut for it within the Windows Start Menu.
Patching your software
The Autodesk Desktop App will be installed with any Autodesk software installation. The shortcut for the app is found within the Windows Start Menu, and will run in the Windows System Tray as a little blue "A" icon. Load up the Autodesk Desktop App, log in with your Autodesk ID, and then the app will scan and detect any installed Autodesk products and provides for patching of each install. Of importance, the App will also provide Licensing Hot-fixes independent of your CAD service packs and CAD hot-fixes, and it's very important to install any licensing hot-fixes recommended by the Desktop App as a priority.
Alternatively, you can download individual Autodesk App patches via the Autodesk Manage Portal. The list of available patches may be extensive, however, so use the search bar to help find what you're looking for.
Licensing your installed software for home use
Single-User (Term Based) Licensing
For those of us who are using an Autodesk Single User license, this method is by far the easiest. Simply download the software, install it (be it a laptop or desktop, but Autodesk do state a limit of 3 devices) and log in with your Autodesk ID to use it. If the software fails to log-in, run through these checks;
- Are you using the correct email address that's associated with your Autodesk ID?
- Check the Autodesk Desktop App doesn't have any pending Service Packs or Licensing Hot-Fixes awaiting install.
- Check that the products you're trying to open are listed either in the Autodesk Desktop App, or the Autodesk Manage Portal. If either of these is looking relatively empty, cross-check your email address and your assigned software with your Software Coordinator.
Multi-User Network (Term Based or Maintenance) Licensing
Borrowing a Network License
Multi-User Licensing Users may open up their CAD application, clicking Help/About, and then product information where they'll see an option to borrow a license for a set period of time (6 months is the maximum default). CAD administrators may wish to either limit the borrowing of licenses to certain users, or by the maximum time which a license can be borrowed. To control the Borrowing, the CAD Administrator will need to create an Options File on the License Server. The guide below details how to create an options file;
Virtual Private Network
Speak with your Company IT Administrator about setting up a VPN between your home device and your office network. Once the VPN is set up and active, so long as your home computer can see/ping the Autodesk License Server in your office, you can then go about installing the Autodesk Software and upon the first startup, select the "Multi-User" option, enter in your company servers name, and the software should start up as expected. If however, you encounter errors please be sure to first check the VPN is set up correctly with your IT Administrator. Following that, ask them to reach out to A2K Support for help, as we'll need to check;
- The client-side error message, take a screenshot of it.
- The LMTools log file, Status Enquiry and Options file
- Network Latency (how long it takes your home computer to communicate with the office license server).
And as always with a Network License, remember that once the user requirement exceeds the license pool, users will be rejected from obtaining a network license.
Home User Serial Number
Your software coordinator can log into the Autodesk Manage Portal and generate a "Home Use Serial Number" which can be issued to any user who needs to install and run Autodesk products from their home computer, yet is unable to run a VPN. There are limitations to Home Use Serial Numbers, such as;
- The Software Coordinator may only issue the same amount of licenses as per the maximum licenses held within the license pool of their active Autodesk contract, on a per-product basis. So if you have a 10 seat Multi-user network license of AutoCAD, then a Home User serial number may be generated for that product, and then issued to a maximum of 10 users for install and activation on their home devices.
- The installation must be activated (and for troubleshooting on this, please see below).
- The license will expire, typically 12 months after activation. It can be renewed, however, often users prefer to install and re-activate their newer version of Autodesk software, and uninstall last years version.
Legacy Standalone Licensing (Maintenance)
Install your software and activate your install using the same serial number that's been used on your work computer. If activation fails, use the Autodesk AVA website to assist with manually activating your product. It's important to understand, however, that Autodesk will only allow home use activation on active maintenance contracts. If your maintenance contract has since expired, Autodesk will not activate your product for use at home.
If using either a Home Use serial number, or your Maintenance perpetual serial number, the software should automatically activate via the internet. If that fails, try using the Autodesk AVA website to generate your activation code manually.
Activate your product directly using the AVA website
If you're still continuing to have activation complications, then please reach out to A2K Support for further assistance, noting that we'll require;
- Name of Installed Product
- Product Serial Number (the issued home use serial, or your maintenance serial number)
- Product Key
- The Request Code generated when the software attempts to activate (you can use the mouse cursor to select this code, and copy/paste it)
Email those details through so that we can work with Autodesk to manually generate an "Activation Code" for use with your home install. However, keep in mind that you should be able to use the software in 30 trial mode whilst awaiting your Activation Code.
Project data, saving and sharing files, accessing work network drives, etc
The aim of this particular document is to cover frequently asked questions on Autodesk Licensing and software install during Work From Home situations, but for tips and tricks regarding remote workflow-related questions, please log a new support ticket via the A2K Support Portal so that a product specialist can review and discuss your workflow questions. Use the below link to log a support ticket with the A2K Technologies support desk;
Autodesk Media Release
Autodesk has released the below media release which also contains a few official handy links that you may refer to if needed, regarding Home Use Licensing;