I have a set of points and a huge feature class with topographic information (OS MasterMap for who knows it). I'm talking millions of polygons huge. I want to transfer attributes of the polygons to the points where they intersect.
I've tried spatial join, but it ran out of memory. I've tried identity and it's giving me no clue at all about how long it might take, though I'm going to let it run over the weekend to see where it ends.
I then thought of making a script to take one point at a time and use that to select the underlying polygons. Doing a select layer by location with the little dialog window in ArcMap works great, it takes less than a second. However doing just that from the python window takes many minutes. I've started writing a full ArcPy script to do a select by location one by one point and then update the point's attributes with the selected polygons' attributes. Updating one point took about 15 minutes. And I've got about 8000 points to do. Unfortunately my boss won't let me sit idle and wait for a script to finish if it takes 80 days to run :(
Anyone has an idea about how this might be done more quickly, and why (why ESRI, why???) SelectByLocation works so much faster in ArcMap itself?
edit: maybe should mention the points feature class is local and the polygons feature class is SDE
============================================================================= SOLUTION: Among many suggestions, the only feasible one for me, being unable to install anything or use multiple workstations at the same time, was Polygeo's solution, please see the answer below. The key thing to do is: set a processing extent to a very small area around each point (do this in a cursor), make a one-polygon copy of the large dataset using this processing extent and get the attributes from the small copy.
I'm bound to try to do a query within the oracle database itself as well, but I'll need some assistance from a colleague with that. As well I'm trying to get PostGIS installed and use that. I'll report back on these as well as soon as I have results.
Thanks for your help!