Preparing database connection files to share with other users

Most of the information required on the Database Connection dialog box is information you, as the administrator, know. You must send users this information for them to create connection files. As an alternative to this, you can create the connection files for them. These connection files can then be sent to users for them to put in their user profiles on their client computers or placed on a centralized server that all users can access.

Some factors to consider before doing this are which login or logins you want used in the connection files, how you will redistribute the files if they change, and how many maps and services may be affected if the file or its location does change. Additionally, be aware that if you create a connection file in ArcGIS 10.1 for Desktop or using the Create Database Connection tool, previous release ArcGIS clients cannot use the connection file. For those users, you can use the Create ArcSDE Connection File tool to preconfigure a connection file.


Due to changes in the way passwords are stored at 10.1, you cannot share connection files created with ArcGIS 10.1 with ArcGIS 10 or 9.3.x clients if the the user name and password is stored with the connection information.

The following steps describe how to create a database connection file in ArcGIS for Desktop and share it with other users.

  1. If you are going to place the connection file on a Windows server for all users to access, create the directory on the server, share it, and grant permissions on it.

    Grant only read access to the shared directory. If you grant write access, users would be able to change information in the connection file.

  2. Start ArcCatalog by clicking Start > All Programs > ArcGIS > ArcCatalog 10.1.
  3. Double-click the Database Connections folder in the Catalog tree to expand it.
  4. Double-click Add Database Connection.

    The Database Connection dialog box opens.

  5. Provide the appropriate connection information as described in Database connections in ArcGIS for Desktop.
  6. If you are placing the connection file in a shared directory on a server, do the following:
    1. Open Windows Explorer on the computer where you created the connection file.
    2. On Windows XP or Server 2003, navigate to Documents and Settings > <user_name> > Application Data > ESRI > Desktop<release#> > ArcCatalog. On Windows Vista, 7, or Server 2008, navigate to Users > <user_name> > AppData > Roaming > ESRI > Desktop<release#> > ArcCatalog.

      The file has an extension of .sde.


      The AppData folder on Windows Vista, 7, or Server 2008 operating systems may be hidden. Choose Folder and search options from the Windows Explorer Organize drop-down list, click the View tab, then click Show hidden files and folders to unhide the AppData folder.

    3. Copy the connection file.
    4. Navigate to the shared directory on the server. Be sure to use a Universal Naming Convention (UNC) path to the location.
    5. Paste the connection file in the shared directory.
    6. Notify users of the UNC path to the shared directory.

      Users must create a folder connection to this location in ArcCatalog or the Catalog window in ArcMap, using the UNC path.

  7. If you are sending the file to users, you can do one of the following:
    • Send the file to them in an e-mail with instructions on where to place the file on their computers.
    • Place the file in a location from which users can copy the file to their client computers and send them instructions with this location.