I'm looking to move 119 GB of data, mxd's, and other files from my computers C drive to "documents" (which I just found out is the only location that gets backed up to our server).

How can I do this without needing to re-set all data sources for all layers within all of my mxds? Is there a way?

It would only be the beginning 2 locations of the pathname that would need to be changed because I will keep all folder locations and titles the same within the "documents" location.

  • 1
    The answer to the question @DanC linked should get you started. You'll need to dig into arcpy.mapping via the ArcMap Python window to do this efficiently.
    – nmpeterson
    Aug 7, 2015 at 16:01
  • @Mapperz The OP never mentions looking for a pythonic solution, so is it really a duplicate?
    – Barbarossa
    Aug 7, 2015 at 21:55

1 Answer 1


I typically, whether on local drive or server, change my options for referencing data to use relative paths.

Go to File > Map Document Properties, and check the "Store relative pathnames to data sources" radio button. Save your MXD.

This way, if your data moves with your map documents, while keeping the same folder structure, the data sources will remain intact.

Also, a tip from the documentation:

If you want all your new maps to be stored with relative paths you will need to specify relative paths as the default. Click Customize > ArcMap Options to open the ArcMap Options dialog box, then click the General tab. Check the option to Make relative paths the default for new map documents. This setting is stored in the registry.

  • 2
    Depending how many MXDs you have, this could also be a lot of work. Thankfully, this can also be automated with arcpy.mapping using the MapDocument.relativePaths boolean property.
    – nmpeterson
    Aug 7, 2015 at 19:40

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