Can I Get VectorWorks for Free?

Updated Oct 30, 2022
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When Vectorworks was created in 1985 as MiniCAD, it was a single product, compatible with a single operating system, created for a single industry/purpose. Today, however, Vectorworks consists of a line up of various highly functional CAD packages that cater to the CAD needs of the architecture, engineering, manufacturing, construction, landscaping, and entertainment industries. Combined, Vectorworks offers powerful 2D drafting, 3D modeling, 4D BIM, rendering, and simulation features.

With its plethora of features, it is no surprise that Vectorworks products are the go-to CAD solutions for professionals across numerous industries. However, with great functionality comes great investment. While Vectorworks is one of the best on the market, there are many that would consider it a bit expensive. The most basic package, Vectorworks Fundamentals, costs a one-time fee of $2,300, with yearly upgrades costing at least $805. Check out our “how much does Vectorworks cost?” article for more. At these prices, Vectorworks is inaccessible to many CAD users. Therefore, the question, “Can I get Vectorworks for free?” is very valid. Fortunately, the short form answer to this question is yes.

Vectorworks designing for landscapes, buildings

Vectorworks can be used to design entire buildings and landscapes (source)

In this article, we will be exploring the ways by which you can lay your hands on Vectorworks for free. Keep in mind that while these ways allow you to enjoy Vectorworks to an extent, they do not grant perpetual, unrestricted access. We will also be going through some ways by which you should definitely not get Vectorworks for free.

Vectorworks Free Trial

As most software makers do, Vectorworks Inc. offers a free trial version of their software for 30 days. This is to allow intending users to get a complete feel of the products before making a commitment. To get a free trial, you simply have to apply for it on the free trial page. You will be required to input your info and contact details, after which you will receive a 5-minute phone consultation from representatives of Vectorworks. During the call, you will be provided with a unique serial number and instructions on how to get started with your free trial.

During the 30-day period, you are granted unrestricted access to the full range of Vectorworks’s features, after which access will be withdrawn. You will have to pay to continue using the software. This method of getting Vectorworks for free only makes sense for one-off projects.

Vectorworks Academic Programs

If you are in education, whether as a student looking to develop designs for class, an educator teaching design, or an administrator looking to get design software for your school, then you are in great luck. Through their academic program, Vectorworks Inc. offers students and professors in select global markets free individual copies of Vectorworks Designer. Also known as Vectorworks Design Suite, this product includes all the features of Architect, Landmark, and Spotlight and ordinarily costs $4,300.00 (without maintenance) and $5,246.00 (with maintenance) for a perpetual license. (However, Vectorworks will ditch the perpetual license model in favor of the subscription model starting January 1, 2023.) As long as you can prove that you are in education, you will be granted free access to the product.

tutor teaching student

Vectorworks Inc. also offers their entire product line, including Vectorworks Designer, Vision, Braceworks, and ConnectCAD, absolutely free, in the form of a full lab donation. This offer is available to accredited institutions with technology courses.

In addition to these, Vectorworks Inc. also offers graduates in architecture, landscape, or entertainment an opportunity to kickstart their careers with their Student2Pro program. While this program does not get qualified users Vectorworks for free, it provides them with a whopping 40% discount on all the other products except Braceworks and ConnectCAD.

Vectorworks Alternatives

Vectorworks is preferred by many for its high functionality. However, if none of the explored methods of getting the software for free works for you, you may want to consider some affordable Vectorworks alternatives.

There are numerous CAD programs on the market, and so it can be challenging to search out the ones that can adequately replace Vectorworks for your project. To help you with this problem, we have compiled a list of Top Vectorworks alternatives that are either free or cost a fraction of what Vectorworks does. 

How Not to Get Vectorworks for Free

You may have heard about a “smart and easy” way of getting Vectorworks for free by downloading a cracked version of the software. We strongly advise against this as there are numerous repercussions. To begin with, when you download a crack, you are exposing your computer to a host of malware. Nothing is free in the long run, and you may end up paying for the crack with your personal information or with a damaged system.

software cracks, malware

Cracks are an avenue for malware (source)

Also, cracked versions are never the same as the original as they are bound to lack a lot of additional features. Furthermore, when you download a crack, you are basically stealing from the developers who took countless hours to create the software. If you don’t mind reaping off others’ hard work, you should mind breaking the law.

In addition to all the disadvantages of downloading a crack, the act is also illegal and can land you in some serious trouble. In summary, it is never worth the risk.

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