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Ability to permanently change the default location of the Default Geodatabase


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  • Can we please have the ability to permanently specify the default location of the Default Geodatabase?

    Currently a Default.gdb is created in the user's "My Documents' folder on first opening the Normal.mxt. Users can specify another geodatabase and save the Normal.mxt, however this never really gets rid of the original default geodatabase and often the normal.mxt reverts back to this.

    In our organisation a user's 'My Documents' folder is set to a network location that has very specific usage and size restrictions. Furthermore running geoprocessing across the network places a heavy burden on resources. Therefore we need the ability to change where this 'default' default.gdb is located, at a higher level than the Normal.mxt. For example in the Advanced Tools or similar.


    Tags :
     Default,Geodatabase,Location,My Documents
    Posted by   Mick_C  to ArcGIS DesktopDefense and IntelligenceFederal Government Apr 17, 2011
Merged Ideas (1)
Default Geodatabase in ArcGIS 10
Posted by  almaz26  to ArcGIS Desktop Apr 26, 2011

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Comments (46)

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Jun 23, 2014
The fact that this is listed as implemented is another example of the poor QC pratices at esri.  I have set the default data base in advanced settings and I am still sent to my c drive. I am not the only one with this issue. Please take the time to test this fully before the next release. 

Jul 23, 2013
I work in a large state agency. Our C: drives are not backed up, nor are they discoverable by the network. We have lots of self-serving and self-taught users. Leaving their work on the C: drive is a recipe for disaster.

Jun 25, 2013
We really need the ability to change this defaulf location.  We log in from many different locations and the default GDB does not follow if it is saved in the C: drive.  Also as a rule the C drive is not backed up so if it fails we lose all of our saved geodatabase files.  This is  a bad precedent to follow.



Apr 3, 2013
One possible approach would be to use a group policy user login script to write the registry key when the user logs into the machine.

Apr 3, 2013
One more vote for "Not Implemented". A registry edit by every single user of a machine just isn't a realistic solution.  There should be a simple way to set this as well as other defaults on a per-machine basis that is easily changed for all machines via group policy or even updating a central preferences file on the network. 

Jan 10, 2013
I also disagree.  This is not implemented.  ESRI needs to go back and keep working on this.  It has to be customizable for all users.  In a teaching lab, we can't ask students to try to edit the register (they couldn't anyway!),

Nov 16, 2012
I disagree -- this has NOT been implemented.... If an organization can't determine it's own key settings, such as the home folder and default geodatabase, then the issue has not been solved and it's not functional. We should be able to set group policy for all users and machines. Given the huge number of large companies, universities, etc. that use this software on a network and need that level of control for many reasons, why isn't this a given?

Jul 19, 2012
No, this registry setting is in the HKEY_CURRENT_USER registry hive. There is no setting that can be set for the machine.

Jul 18, 2012
Chris, thank you for posting the article. This has been a longstanding frustration where I am as well.

When I change the settings from within ArcMap 10.1, it is only for my user account only (I am at a university where you log into the machines). Will changing the registry setting as you describe change this setting for all users?

Jul 17, 2012
Here is a kb article describing the procedure at 10 sp5 to change this location:

Jun 20, 2012
You can change it in the registry, it is just one string value that needs to be changed.

Jun 20, 2012
Can I change this key directly in the registry or do I need the script tool (which maybe changes things in places other than the registry as well)?

May 8, 2012
Hooray! Thanks for the info Chris!

May 2, 2012
This is resolved at 10.1 and 10 sp5. At 10.1 you will be able to set the default home folder for new documents from the Catalog Window Options. This directory will be the location in which the default geodatabase is created for new documents. At sp5 this option won't be available in the Catalog Options, but there will be a registry key that is read on start-up for the default home folder which will control what directory the default geodatabase is written to. We will be posting a kb article on this topic as well as a script tool that can be used to update this registry key. I will add the link to this article when sp5 is released.

Apr 2, 2012
The comments are a bit off based from the original idea (change the default.gdb location for map documents)....
To answer the extraction location for Packages in ArcGIS 10.1 : yes, you can modify this setting in the ArcMap options under the Sharing tab. Here you can leave it to the default spot, or override this with your own path setting.

Mar 30, 2012
This is a huge issue for us in USGS..   Since ArcGIS in general doesn't play well over a network, and most managed setups have a network drive for their home for backup purposes, this "feature" has been a real pain. Thanks Chris for posting this extension, we will definitely try it.

The place I would look for this setting would be in the ArcCatalog Options General tab, as it would apply to all new map documents.

Mar 29, 2012
The solution is necessary and expected by huge amount of ArcGIS users.

Mar 5, 2012
This needs to be fixed. I have a partion drive with little room on my C drive. Anytime I run a model involving large amounts of data GIS crashes.

Feb 29, 2012
You can change the location that packages are unpacked to by default by going to C:\Program Files\Common Files\ArcGIS\bin and run ArcGISFileHandler.exe. It will bring up a dialog and at the bottom is package location options. Select use user specified location and then browse to the folder you want it to unpack by default too. In addition, you can use the extract package geoprocessing tool to select a unique location to store the data in the package.

Feb 28, 2012
This idea needs to be extended to include the location that Map Packages are unpacked to.

Every time I try to open a map package ArcMap crashes with an error along the lines that 'the package is corrupt' when I know it too be fine. I then get nasty emails from network admins saying I have exceeded my home drive capacity.

Therefor the Map Packages functionality is totally lost.

I hear that 10.1 will not fix this. Come on Esri it shouldn't be that hard...

Feb 16, 2012
Having the same issues with my network and taking so long to open ArcGIS

Feb 10, 2012

This is killing me.  The changes happen in the middle of trouble shooting some very tedious geoprocesses in model builder.  ARRRRRRRRggggggHHHHHH!

Roger Koelpin
Indiana Department of Homeland Security

Dec 11, 2011
I agree - this needs to be controlled by a registry key as do the Geoprocessing Environment Settings - I finally worked out what was killing the speed of a lot of custom models was that the workspace was pointing to a gdb - change to any folder and magically faster again.  We also have roaming profiles - I have to deliberately disconnect that drive when working remotely over VPN or waiting minutes for ArcGIS to start - sort it out!

Dec 8, 2011
I'd like to make the point that it's more than just the default.gdb which needs to be configurable. We also need to change the default location of the ArcGIS Home folder  (which includes default.gdb AND AddIns AND Packages AND Web Maps AND ....). This is a real and persistent problem for our approximately 50 GIS users. Please make this user configurable as soon as possible.

The thread at details many of the specifics that cause difficulties, so I'll not reiterate them here. I would like to add one more: Since the home folder is inside the "My Documents" folder, in Windows 7 the ArcGIS Home folder is in the Documents Library, which means when the library is opened in Windows Explorer users are presented with a long list file-gdb items (a00000004.CatitemsByType.atx, a00000004.gdbtable, a00000004.CatItemTypesByName.atx,...). Items which need to be ignored, never ever moved, renamed, or otherwise modifed outside of Arcgis, yet are intermingled with "real" documents. It hasn't happened yet, but I'm just waiting and dreading the support call of "I lost all my XXX after hours of work" after someone does some housekeeping, and tries to move those files out of the way.

Dec 8, 2011
I also agree with this.  I work in the Citrix environment on many different maps and geodatabases every day and I spend several minutes every day navigating away from this Default.gdb and to the shared folder the project is located in.  Although an environment variable would be nice, my vote is to bring back the way 9.3 dealt with it, which was to default to the input's location or to the last place saved to.

Nov 20, 2011
I must say Chris Fox Rocks!!

Oct 26, 2011
come on ESRI dont solve this with a half baked add-on. Either dump the default.gdb or give us full control over where it is at star-up!!

Oct 26, 2011
This problem is an absolute killer in Citrix deployments. 

Oct 20, 2011
This is a must have - esri must realize that many of us have tight limits on "My Documents" - I can't see what benefit this new feature actually gives us.

Oct 13, 2011

Just promoted to hit the 1800 mark! 

Serious note this is an issue especially if your Active Directory Domain Administrator has configured your user profile with a hidden share in the path which includes the $ - Certain geoprocessing tools will fail in this environment purely because it does not like the $ sign in the path
e.g. \\fileserv001\homes$\username\ArcGIS\Default.gdb

Sep 27, 2011
The location of default.gdb is on a remote fileserver which causes ArcMap to load very slowly, I still need to change the default default location.

Sep 23, 2011
Thank you for all your comments and feedback on this idea. As a sample for how this can be accomplished I uploaded an application extension add-in and its source code to the ArcObjects code gallery. What the extension does is it listens for the ArcMap new document event and reads a registry string value to sets the default geodatabase to the file geodatabase specified in the registry string value.

Set default geodatabase for new map documents extension

A couple things to know, it does not change the startup routine of ArcMap. ArcMap will still create a file geodatabase called Default in the user profile if it doesn't already exist. However, this extension will update the default geodatabase for the new document after the application has loaded to the file geodatabase that you specify. The code only works for file geodatabases, but the source code is included for those who want to modify it for their specific needs. Also be sure that you have read/write access to the location of the file geodatabase or the default geodatabase will not change.

Sep 13, 2011
This is arcgis operations crash with a memory error eventhough I have my scratch/workspace and default.gdb set to drives other than C: and they have more than 1TB of space. Why can't ARCGIS just be forced to run it's operation only on the defined scratch disc?
I also tried the setting in C:\Program Files (x86)\ArcGIS\Desktop10.0\Utilities\AdvancedArcMapSettings.exe--> run as admin-->System Paths-->last option "Output Temp file path"

Sep 1, 2011

Our network also imposes limits on the size of our My Documents folders, and having all our spatial data default there is just not practical. Being able to redirect the default geodatabase to our GIS drives would make life so much easier!

Aug 18, 2011
I agree to this Idea

Aug 16, 2011
This is a HUGE problem!  So many people have been complaining about the speed of ArcGIS 10 and I think one of the major factors seems to be this one!  Just as described in this idea, our "My Documents" folders are actually linked to a network location.  Our network is notoriously slow and in trying to speed up my ArcGIS 10 experience, I changed my default cache folder and default workspace geodatabase to a location on my local harddrive.  That helped tremendously (although still not perfect) on the speed issue.  However, when I opened a new document, it reverted back to the network location!  Not helpful at all!  Why can't I change it permenantly.  ESRI should not dictate where I store my work.  That should be left up to the client!

Aug 10, 2011
Since my comments are in the thread that is posted by Mick_C I won't repeat them here. I just wanted to say that this CONTINUES TO BE A PROBLEM! Seriously, how hard is it to be able to set a registry key for the Home directory?

Aug 8, 2011
Please note that the folder is named "My Documents" not "Esri's Documents".  We should be allowed to set ArcGIS\Default.gdb at whatever location works in our computing environment.  It is truly remarkable for Esri developers to believe that EVERYBODY does all work within his or her user profile.

Jul 18, 2011
I agree with he previous comments.

May 24, 2011
Agreed that this functionality is essential! As others have noted, many corporate environments redirect My Docs  to network shares. Performance is abysmal. 

May 15, 2011

This feature is requried to provide organization with many desktop users the ability to configure the desktop for managed environement. We have noticed that performance is very slow with the default geodatabase stored on a network drive.

May 11, 2011
This is essential. Performance is incredibly slow with the default geodatabase in MyDocuments when stored on a network drive.

Important if small change to ArcGIS functionality.  Should have been changed in user testing during beta.  Most production houses separate personal directories from GIS directories.  This makes no sense from an IT perspective.  

Apr 17, 2011
I agree, this is definately a problem and seems like something that would be relatively simple for ESRI to fix. It's just not appropriate for everyone that the default geodatabase is stored in the "My Documents" folder and we need the ability to change it.



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