Managing Data Using ArcCatalog

ArcCatalog allows users to access and manage data stored in folders on local disks or relational databases on the network. Data can be moved, copied, deleted and quickly viewed before added to the map.

ArcGIS organizes data sources into folder hierarchies. It recognizes 4 different types of workspaces:

  • Folders: folders may contain other folders, geodatabases, data sources (rasters, shapefiles, tables, etc) and toolboxes. Some data sources can only live inside folders (coverages, shapefiles, TIN datasets, layers and layer files)

Geodatabases – there are two types: personal and ArcSDE. They contain geographic information organized in the form of feature classes, feature datasets, tables and toolboxes. Feature classes can be organized into feature datasets or may exist independently in the geodatabases.

  • Personal geodatabases: these are created by a user to store and manage your own spatial database. All files are stored within a Microsoft Access data file and it is limited to 2 GB
  • File geodatabases: data are stored as folders in a file system. Each dataset held as a file can scale up to 1 TB. This option is generally recommended over the personal geodatabase.
  • ArcSDE geodatabases: this is data stored in a relational database using Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, etc. These are multiuser geodatabases and can be unlimited in size, however they require the use of ArcSDE. Both of the others are single user databases.

ArcCatalog Tutorial

Building a Geodatabase


Metadata can be read, edited and created in ArcCatalog. These files contain information such as origins of the data, projections, updatesand notes to help users understand and use data more efficiently. It is important to maintain your metadata files especially when you manipulate data so that later you can easily recall your methods and if others use your files, they can easily understand the information.

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