A quick tour of administering geodatabases

There is at least some amount of administration needed for every type of geodatabase. The tasks you perform to administer a geodatabase vary depending on the type of geodatabase you are using.

Administering file or personal geodatabases

There are a few administration tasks involved in the use of a file or personal geodatabase. Some of these tasks, such as compacting a geodatabase or setting the spatial grid index, help maintain performance. Others, such as compressing vector data in file geodatabases or moving geodatabases, are optional. See A quick tour of managing file and personal geodatabases for more information.

Administering database servers and their geodatabases

You can think of the geodatabases stored in SQL Server Express instances that are used as database servers as mini enterprise geodatabases. As such, they require some of the same administration as enterprise geodatabases.

Other than installing the SQL Server Express instance and creating Windows logins, all administration tasks are performed through ArcGIS for Desktop.

Setting up a SQL Server Express instance to be used as a database server

Use the SQL Server Express installation file provided with ArcGIS for Desktop, ArcGIS Engine, or ArcGIS for Server Workgroup to install SQL Server Express and enable it to store geodatabases. The first part of the wizard installs Microsoft SQL Server. The second part writes a key to the registry indicating this instance can be used to store geodatabases.

You can set up a database server to use yourself, or you can add other users to the database server to allow them to access geodatabases on the database server. In most cases, the person who sets up the database server is the server administrator. That person is responsible for access to and maintenance of the database server.


You must be an administrator on your Windows computer to install software. If you are not, request that an administrator at your organization install and enable SQL Server Express for you. Be sure the person installing SQL Server Express adds you as an administrator to the instance.

Creating geodatabases on the database server

You must add a database server connection to ArcGIS for Desktop while logged in to the computer as the server administrator, then use the Create Geodatabase wizard to create geodatabases on the database server.

Adding logins to the database server and granting permissions

If other users need to access the new geodatabases, you must add them to the database server. Before you can do this, the Windows logins—either domain or local—must be created. Your network administrator would likely be the one to create domain logins. If you are an administrator on the computer where SQL Server Express was installed, you can create local logins; otherwise, someone who is an administrator will need to create the logins on the computer. Local logins are only used when logged in to that specific computer.

As the server administrator, you add to the database server the Windows logins of all users who must access the geodatabases on the database server. See Adding users or groups to a database server for instructions. The server administrator is also responsible for assigning user permissions to the geodatabases and their contents. See A quick tour of permissions for database servers and its related topics for more information.

Maintaining geodatabases on database servers

There are a few maintenance tasks that need to be performed for geodatabases on database servers. They include creating backups of the databases, compressing geodatabases, updating statistics, rebuilding indexes, and upgrading geodatabases. There are other maintenance tasks that are only required for specific situations. See A quick tour of maintaining database servers and their geodatabases for more information.

Administering enterprise geodatabases

Enterprise geodatabases are stored in one of the following relational database management systems (RDBMS):

Enterprise geodatabases are typically accessed by a large number of users. As a result, there is some administration required to make sure the geodatabase is set up properly, users can access the data they need, and the database runs smoothly.

Some administration tasks can be performed using ArcGIS. In many cases, administration tasks are slightly different from one RDBMS to another. Therefore, there is a section in the help specific to each type of RDBMS. Be sure to read the topics pertaining to the RDBMS you are using.

Key tasks for the administration of an enterprise geodatabase include the following:

Installing software and creating a geodatabase

You must install both RDBMS and ArcGIS software, create a database, then enable geodatabase functionality in the database.

For most database management systems, obtain the RDBMS installation from a third-party vendor. An installation of PostgreSQL can be obtained from the Esri Customer Care portal, or you can get your own. Check the system requirements on the ArcGIS Resource Center to be sure you are installing a version of the RDBMS that is supported with the version of ArcGIS you want to use.

Once your ArcGIS and RDBMS software is installed and configured, you can use either the Create Enterprise Geodatabase or Enable Enterprise Geodatabase geoprocessing tool or a Python script to create a geodatabase.

Configuring the RDBMS and the geodatabase

The RDBMS is the container for your data. Advanced users can configure it to meet specific needs.

Configuration of the geodatabase is minimal; in many cases, default configuration settings are sufficient.

The most common form of configuration has to do with storing data in separate locations in the RDBMS. You can create different tablespaces or file groups, then specify these locations in the geodatabase's DBTUNE table. See the topics in the DBTUNE section specific to your RDBMS for more information on storage settings.

Creating user accounts and administering user access

To control access to the geodatabase, you must create or add user accounts to the database. These users may be database users, or they may be operating system accounts that are added to the database as authorized users. (See A quick tour of user accounts for more information.) You can add users to Oracle, PostgreSQL, or SQL Server databases using the Create Database User geoprocessing tool or a Python script. To simplify user administration, you will likely create groups or roles and add users to them. You can use the Create Role geoprocessing tool to create database roles in Oracle, PostgreSQL, or SQL Server databases.

Once users have been added to the database, you can grant permissions to them, individually or in groups, to allow them to perform their work in the geodatabase. These include Data Definition Language (DDL) privileges to create, alter, or drop objects in the database. Individual data owners can grant Data Manipulation Language (DML) privileges to other users or groups to allow them to select, insert, update, or delete records in their data. DML privileges can be granted through ArcGIS for Desktop. See Granting and revoking privileges on datasets for information on how to manage DML privileges through ArcGIS for Desktop. For information on privileges needed for different types of users, see the topic specific to your RDBMS:

Creating connections to the geodatabase

To work with the data, users connect to the geodatabase from client applications. Connections can be made directly between clients and the database or between clients, an ArcSDE service, and the database. You can use one or both of these connection methods at your site.

For direct connections to the geodatabase, you must install an RDBMS client on the client computer. You can obtain an RDBMS client from your RDBMS vendor. Oracle, PostgreSQL, and SQL Server users can also download an RDBMS client from the Esri Customer Care portal.

If you want some or all of your users to use an ArcSDE service to connect, you need to set up and maintain the service. The ArcSDE service can run on the same server as the RDBMS, or it can run on a separate server. To use a service, you must download the ArcSDE application server for your RDBMS from the Esri Customer Care portal and install it. Instructions for setting up the service are included with the ArcSDE application server installation.

Maintaining the geodatabase

As data is added to the geodatabase and is altered, the geodatabase must be maintained so that the data is available to all authorized users when needed and without any depreciation in performance.

To ensure the data is not lost, the administrator must perform regular backups and have a recovery plan in place and tested. See the topics specific to your RDBMS for more information:

When new data is added or existing data updated, database statistics should be updated and indexes rebuilt to be sure the RDBMS optimizer can efficiently query the data. The geodatabase administrator can update statistics and indexes on system tables using the Analyze Datasets and Rebuild Indexes geoprocessing tools, respectively. Data owners can use these tools to update statistics and indexes on their own data tables.

For versioned geodatabases, the administrator must regularly compress the geodatabase to maintain performance levels. Geodatabase compression is performed from ArcGIS using either the Compress command in the Catalog tree or the Compress geoprocessing tool or Python script.

For more information on the compress operation, see The geodatabase compress operation.

Understanding geodatabase storage

To work with an enterprise geodatabase, database and geodatabase administrators should understand how the geodatabase tables are stored and the data types that are used. The "Inside a geodatabase" section of the help for each DBMS provides information on data type and dataset storage. This section also includes information on using views on geodatabase data.