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How to Run ETABS v16 Using a Higher Version License

ETABS is a structural analysis and design software developed by Computers and Structures, Inc. (CSI). It is widely used by engineers and architects for designing buildings, bridges, and other structures. ETABS offers various features and capabilities, such as linear and nonlinear analysis, dynamic response, seismic design, steel and concrete design, and more.

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If you have a license for a higher version of ETABS, such as v17 or v18, you may want to run an older version of ETABS, such as v16, for compatibility or preference reasons. However, you may encounter some difficulties or errors when trying to do so. This article will show you how to run ETABS v16 using a higher version license, by creating and using a text file named level.txt.

What is level.txt?

Level.txt is a text file that contains the product level and product version of the current license. It tells the older version of ETABS to use the higher version license instead of looking for its own license. You can create a level.txt file using any text editor, such as Notepad or WordPad.

How to create level.txt?

To create a level.txt file, follow these steps:

  • Open a text editor and type the following line: PROGRAM "ETABS 2016" VERSION "16.0.0"

  • Save the file as level.txt in the same folder where the ETABS v16 executable file (*.exe) is located. For example, if you installed ETABS v16 in C:\Program Files\Computers and Structures\ETABS 16, then save the level.txt file in that folder.

  • If you have a standalone license, copy the license file (lservrc) of the higher version into the same folder as well. For example, if you have an ETABS v18 license, copy the lservrc file from C:\Program Files\Computers and Structures\ETABS 18 into C:\Program Files\Computers and Structures\ETABS 16.

  • If you have a network license, make sure that the network license server is running and that your computer can access it.

How to run ETABS v16 using level.txt?

To run ETABS v16 using level.txt, follow these steps:

  • Double-click on the ETABS v16 executable file (*.exe) to launch the program.

  • You should see a message saying that you are running ETABS v16 using an ETABS 2016 license.

  • You can now use ETABS v16 as usual.

Limitations and Notes

  • This method may not work when versions are separated by more than one major release. For example, you cannot run ETABS v15 using an ETABS v17 license. In that case, you should request a license file for the older version from CSI.

  • This method may not work when the licensing system has changed between program versions. For example, you cannot run ETABS v14 using an ETABS v15 license.

  • This method may not be compatible with all features and functions of the higher version. For example, some new features or enhancements introduced in ETABS v17 or v18 may not be available or work properly in ETABS v16.

  • You should always backup your model files before opening them in a different version of ETABS. Some changes or modifications made in the higher version may not be reversible or compatible with the lower version.


  • [Run a previous software version using a current version license - Technical Knowledge Base - Computers and Structures, Inc.]

  • [Opening ETABS V16 models in lower versions - ETABS - Computers and Structures, Inc.]


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