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Starting HydroCAD

Starting HydroCAD

There are several ways to run HydroCAD:
    1) Click the shortcut on the desktop (created by the setup program)
    2) Click the HydroCAD item on the Start menu
    3) Click on any HydroCAD project file (with an .HCP extension)

The first time you run HydroCAD it will ask for your serial number or activation code.
    * Your serial number is included in your download email.
    * Your activation code is provided by email after you register the program.

If you have problems during the startup process, please review the following list of common startup issues.

Startup Problems

Wrong Capacity

If you purchased an increase in your node capacity, but HydroCAD still shows the old capacity, you need to enter the updated serial number, as provided with your order.  Open the Settings|Serial Number screen and enter the new number in place of the old one.

Lost or Rejected Password

The Settings|Serial Number screen includes the option to set a user-defined password.  We encourage the system administrator to set a password in order to prevent unauthorized changes to your license information.  (This password is completely independent of any download password that may have been issued with your software.)

If your password is lost or forgotten, it cannot be recovered.  However, you can reset your password by deleting the hydrocad.hcl file.  The next time you run HydroCAD you will have to re-enter your serial number, and will have the opportunity to set a new password.  Details here.

Shared serial numbers are not recognized

If you are sharing your license(s) over a network, all workstations must use the same drive letter or UNC name to access the license information.  If the path isn't the same, other workstations will see an empty serial number form.  For further details read about license pooling.

Missing Serial Number

If you previously entered your serial number, but HydroCAD is asking for it again, this indicates that the license file is not accessible.  This can occur if the license file was deleted, damaged, or moved to a different location.  To correct the problem, locate the original file or reenter the serial number.  To avoid future problems under Windows Vista (or later), make sure you're using HydroCAD-10 or later.  Details here.

"More recent serial number ... has been skipped"

This error can occur if you have installed an older version of HydroCAD which doesn't match the serial number(s) you are attempting to use.  Double check your installation program to be sure it matches the serial number(s).  For example, you might be attempting to use version 10 serial numbers with the version 10 software.

This error can also occur if Windows is misreporting the version number and returning an invalid value, such as "6.2".  This can happen if you attempt to deploy HydroCAD in a Virtual Machine (VM) without running the standard setup program and you don't provide the appropriate compatibility details in your deployment.  Customers have reported good results using "installed-permanent layer 1" for the Windows VM.  (Note, starting with HydroCAD-10 build 25 this condition will return Error 142.

Missing Project Files

If your HydroCAD project files appear to be missing, verify the folder where you stored the files.  Although the default files are stored in HydroCAD\Projects, you are free to store files anywhere you choose.  Searching for all *.HCP files will locate all HydroCAD projects on your computer.

Project files may also seem to "disappear" when using an older version of HydroCAD (9.1 or earlier) with a newer version of Windows (Vista or later).  In these environments the user files normally stored in C:\ProgramFiles\HydroCAD\Projects are automatically redirected to a separate user-specific folder, causing the files to be inaccessible to any other "user".  This means that running HydroCAD under a different account may cause the files to effectively "disappear".  To avoid this situation, make sure you're using HydroCAD-10 (or later) which has been modified to store all user files in the proper locations.  Details here.

"Network files not found"

This message indicates that HydroCAD was unable to find a network installation of HydroCAD, which is sometimes used to share rainfall tables and other data files.  This feature is independent of the license sharing mechanism, as described above.  It is used only in special cases in order to use a centralized copy of special lookup tables.

To eliminate this message, select Settings|Network on the HydroCAD menu and click the Reset Folder button.  For further information about this feature, click the Help button on the same screen.

"Insufficient Access Rights"

This error has been known to occur if an anti-virus program is blocking access to the HydroCAD executable file.  Right-click the HydroCAD.exe file for further details and options.  There may also be an "Unblock" button in the file properties.  If you still have problems, temporarily disable you antivirus product or contact your system administrator.

Compatibility Mode

HydroCAD should not be run using Windows "compatibility mode".  Running in compatibility mode can interfere with certain HydroCAD operations, including the ability to access external applications, such as AutoCAD.

HydroCAD Window(s) not Visible

If you previously used HydroCAD with a dual monitor setup, and you moved or removed one of the monitors, HydroCAD windows may open in an off-screen location, where they cannot be seen.  To correct the problem, reset the window locations by using this registry patch.

Note: This patch is required only for HydroCAD 8.0 and earlier.  Later versions will automatically avoid the use of a "phantom" monitor.

"Your HydroCAD installation is incomplete"

This message will occur if the program files have been manually moved to a new folder or computer.  To install HydroCAD, you must run the original setup program, either from the HydroCAD CD or from the download.

If the error still occurs after running setup, make sure HydroCAD is not configured to run in Windows "compatibility mode."  To check these settings, right-click the HydroCAD shortcut and select "Properties".  Then click the "Compatibility" tab and make sure none of the options are selected.

For HydroCAD 6.1, this message can also occur if you didn't have sufficient access rights when installing the program.  Try re-installing the program with full administrator rights.  (HydroCAD 7.0 and later will verify all access rights before allowing the installation to continue.)

"No default printer"

HydroCAD requires that a default printer be designated in the Windows printer folder.  If you still get this error with a designated default printer, your default settings may be damaged.  To correct the problem, set a different printer as the default and then re-designate the original printer.

"IntegrationSupport.dll is missing"

The metered and trial editions of HydroCAD use a special "Dashboard" to control program operation.  If you get the message "The program can't start because IntegrationSupport.dll is missing from your computer", this indicates that the Dashboard was not properly installed.  Run the HydroCAD setup program again, and make sure you allow the "Dashboard setup" to complete.  If you prefer to run the Dashboard installer separately, you will find the file called "OnDemandSetup.exe" in your %temp% folder.

Note: The Dashboard setup will appear only for the metered and trial editions.  If you don't see the Dashboard setup it means you're installing an edition which doesn't use the Dashboard.

HydroCAD help pages will not open

For Windows Vista, 7, and 8, you must use HydroCAD-9 (or later) for compatibility with the new Windows help system.  Details here.  Please update to the latest HydroCAD release.

Help links not working in HydroCAD-9 or later

Clicking a link in the HydroCAD help system will normally open that topic in the same help window.  If the new topic tries to open in your web browser (instead of the help window), this indicates damage to the HTML help configuration on your PC.  To correct the problem, open a command prompt and re-register the help system:

1) Select Start|Run and type c:\Windows\System32\cmd
2) At the command prompt, type  regsvr32  hhctrl.ocx <enter> and then  regsvr32  itss.dll <enter>
3) Test the help links again.

A padlock appears next to my HydroCAD project files

Prior to HydroCAD-10, the default project folder was located in ProgramFiles\HydroCAD.  With the introduction of Windows Vista, access to ProgramFiles is restricted, which can cause a padlock icon to appear next to files in this folder.  This is resolved in HydroCAD-10 by moving the default project folder to SharedDocuments/HydroCAD.  Details here.  To resolve the problem please update to the latest HydroCAD release.

Toolbar Buttons are blank

If the buttons on the HydroCAD toolbar are blank, you may need to update your Windows "common controls."  You can download the update from Microsoft at  Most customers should use the latest "x86" download listed on this page.

Blank toolbar buttons can also be caused by video card problems.  This is usually corrected by installing a new video driver, which can be obtained from the video card manufacturer.

Netware File Access Problems

A few customers have reported problems with HydroCAD data stored on a Novell Network drive.  The reported symptoms include:

  1. Slow program startup.
  2. "Unable to create user file".
  3. Unable to open more than one HydroCAD project.

These problems seem to originate in the Netware server and/or client software.  This may be confirmed by moving your project files and/or license information to a non-Netware drive.  For a permanent solution, please contact for assistance with your specific system configuration.

For further reading

Also read about HydroCAD installation, license pooling, and command-line options.


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