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I would like to make an exact copy (domains, feature datasets, feature classes, etc.) of an SDE database to a file geodatabase.

I have tried several possibilities, including:

  1. using the Copy (Data Management) process
  2. creating a new GDB and manually copying each feature dataset from the SDE
  3. exporting an xml workspace document from the SDE and importing it into the GDB

The Copy_management process does not seem like it would work for copying an SDE to a GDB, since the input and output data types must match.

The process of importing each feature dataset into a new GDB could probably be automated using Copy_management as well by iterating through each feature dataset, though it seems this could cause problems of an incomplete copy if there was an error with one of the processes.

Exporting and importing xml workspaces seems to work, though this process creates incredibly large files when the process is used on large geodatabases.

Is there a more straightforward way to copy the contents and schema of an SDE to a GDB than the ways mentioned, in a way that can be automated?

If not, are there any reasons that the above possibilities should not be used in this process?

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Related: gis.stackexchange.com/q/63368/753 –  blah238 Jul 31 '13 at 17:39

3 Answers 3

up vote 3 down vote accepted

The only way you can get a true copy of the data (domains, datasets, relationships, etc) is to use the manual copy and paste method inside catalog. ESRI has not yet given us the ability to transfer this data over any other way with a single operation that can be scripted easily.

I have a nightly process that copies my two primary SDE Databases to file geodatabases for Continuity of Operations. This is so that in the event of an emergency my staff has some data to work with until my IT shop can rebuild my SDE from backup. After much trial and error I have decided we can live with the limitations of using FeatureClassToFeatureClass_conversion and TableToTable_conversion to transfer our data over every night.

Yes, we lose some of the functionality of the geodatabase but it will now run unattended at night and is ready to go as soon as I get it. In my case the only functionality that we are truly missing (assuming operating under an emergency mode) is that my relationship classes are broken because the conversion resets the ObjectIDs that link the two tables.

Until ESRI gives us more options you will have to look at what are you willing to sacrifice at the moment; time and effort or functionality?

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I know this post is a little old but I though I would share my answer since I was faced with the same issue. The following script SHOULD copy all tables, feature classes and relationships not in a dataset and also will copy over all datasets including the feature classes, topology, etc within the dataset. It will skip over any errors durring the copy adn keep going. It will produce a log file that contains data such as the source DB item count and the destination item count so you can compare the copy and it will log errors it encounters as well.

import arcpy, os, shutil, time
import logging as log
from datetime import datetime

def formatTime(x):
    minutes, seconds_rem = divmod(x, 60)
    if minutes >= 60:
        hours, minutes_rem = divmod(minutes, 60)
        return "%02d:%02d:%02d" % (hours, minutes_rem, seconds_rem)
        minutes, seconds_rem = divmod(x, 60)
        return "00:%02d:%02d" % (minutes, seconds_rem)

def getDatabaseItemCount(workspace):
    arcpy.env.workspace = workspace
    feature_classes = []
    for dirpath, dirnames, filenames in arcpy.da.Walk(workspace,datatype="Any",type="Any"):
        for filename in filenames:
            feature_classes.append(os.path.join(dirpath, filename))
    return feature_classes, len(feature_classes)

def replicateDatabase(dbConnection, targetGDB):
    startTime = time.time()

    featSDE,cntSDE = getDatabaseItemCount(dbConnection)
    featGDB,cntGDB = getDatabaseItemCount(targetGDB)

    now = datetime.now()
    logName = now.strftime("SDE_REPLICATE_SCRIPT_%Y-%m-%d_%H-%M-%S.log")
    log.basicConfig(datefmt='%m/%d/%Y %I:%M:%S %p', format='%(asctime)s %(message)s',\

    print "Old Target Geodatabase: %s -- Feature Count: %s" %(targetGDB, cntGDB)
    log.info("Old Target Geodatabase: %s -- Feature Count: %s" %(targetGDB, cntGDB))
    print "Geodatabase being copied: %s -- Feature Count: %s" %(dbConnection, cntSDE)
    log.info("Geodatabase being copied: %s -- Feature Count: %s" %(dbConnection, cntSDE))

    arcpy.env.workspace = dbConnection

    #deletes old targetGDB
        print "Deleted Old %s" %(os.path.split(targetGDB)[-1])
        log.info("Deleted Old %s" %(os.path.split(targetGDB)[-1]))
    except Exception as e:
        print e

    #creates a new targetGDB
    GDB_Path, GDB_Name = os.path.split(targetGDB)
    print "Now Creating New %s" %(GDB_Name)
    log.info("Now Creating New %s" %(GDB_Name))
    arcpy.CreateFileGDB_management(GDB_Path, GDB_Name)

    datasetList = [arcpy.Describe(a).name for a in arcpy.ListDatasets()]
    featureClasses = [arcpy.Describe(a).name for a in arcpy.ListFeatureClasses()]
    tables = [arcpy.Describe(a).name for a in arcpy.ListTables()]

    #Compiles a list of the previous three lists to iterate over
    allDbData = datasetList + featureClasses + tables

    for sourcePath in allDbData:
        targetName = sourcePath.split('.')[-1]
        targetPath = os.path.join(targetGDB, targetName)
        if arcpy.Exists(targetPath)==False:
                print "Atempting to Copy %s to %s" %(targetName, targetPath)
                log.info("Atempting to Copy %s to %s" %(targetName, targetPath))
                arcpy.Copy_management(sourcePath, targetPath)
                print "Finished copying %s to %s" %(targetName, targetPath)
                log.info("Finished copying %s to %s" %(targetName, targetPath))
            except Exception as e:
                print "Unable to copy %s to %s" %(targetName, targetPath)
                print e
                log.info("Unable to copy %s to %s" %(targetName, targetPath))
            print "%s already exists....skipping....." %(targetName)
            log.info("%s already exists....skipping....." %(targetName))
    featGDB,cntGDB = getDatabaseItemCount(targetGDB)
    print "Completed replication of %s -- Feature Count: %s" %(dbConnection, cntGDB)
    log.info("Completed replication of %s -- Feature Count: %s" %(dbConnection, cntGDB))
    totalTime = (time.time() - startTime)
    totalTime = formatTime(totalTime)
    log.info("Script Run Time: %s" %(totalTime))

if __name__== "__main__":
    databaseConnection = r"YOUR_SDE_CONNECTION"
    targetGDB = "DESTINATION_PATH\\SDE_Replicated.gdb"
    replicateDatabase(databaseConnection, targetGDB)   

I had really good luck with this. I was replicating an SDE database to a file geodatabase. I haven't done too extensive of testing on this script though since it fulfilled all my needs. I tested it using ArcGIS 10.3. Also, one thing to note, I was in talks with someone that has used this script and they ran into an issue with an error copying certain datasets due to improper permissions and empty tables.

Lemur - why not create your relationships based to a global id instead of the object id? That you your relationships would be preserved. If you haven't created global id's I would highly recommend it.

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If you have admin privileges you can use simple copy and paste commands to export or import sde to file geo-database vise versa and Have a look at here for more details.

Hope this helpful.!

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Thanks Ganeshnarim - I would like to automate the process using Python, so any manual copy/paste process in ArcCatalog would not fit my needs. I have also had limited success with this method, as it seems (in ArcMap 10.1) copying an SDE simply creates another link to the same database (whereas if this same technique were used on a file or personal geodatabase, a copy would be made) –  Krausers Aug 8 '13 at 12:02

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