I would like to join table from .mdb to the attribute table of feature class to perform some data manipulation, however on the join validation I get a warning:

Non-geodatabase MS Access tables should not be added directly to ArcMap. The following tables are not connected via OLE DB.

Why can`t those tables be treated like other tables? I admit I used to join non-geo .mdb tables with feature class tables and never had any problems.

1 Answer 1


You can use an Access table, but it is recommended you only use it through an OLE DB connection in order to maintain the data integrity. Don't consider a Personal Geodatabase and a non-spatial MDB file to be exactly the same. ArcGIS manages the data in a personal geodatabase, but you don't want it to manage the data in your tabular file.

You can use tables from a Microsoft Access database in ArcMap through an OLE DB connection. OLE DB is a standard for sharing data between applications, enabling you to view the Access database in ArcMap. To maintain data integrity, you should only modify an Access database in Access.

To connect to a non-spatial Access MDB or ACCDB file from ArcGIS you need to connect to is via OLE DB connection (as mentioned in your warning).

To do this you will need to add the Add OLE DB Connection to a toolbar in ArcCatalog. This button is found in Customize > Customize Mode > Commands, then a search for "OLE" should find it.

Click on your new Add OLE DB Connection button, and in the new Data Link Properties window make sure you're on the Provider tab, select "Microsoft Jet 4.0 OLE DB Provider" and click Next.

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On the Connection tab, browse to select your database, and click Test Connection to check it connects properly. Once it connects click OK and name your new connection in Arc Catalog.

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Now you can add your tables from an Access Database using Add Data and browsing your new OLE connection.

Access tables, like other tables without associated features, are only viewable when the ArcMap Table of Contents window is listed by source.

See Connecting to a Microsoft Access database in ArcGIS and Understanding how to use Microsoft Access files in ArcGIS for more information.

  • Thank you for this complex answer. Do you know there is a way to establish this connection by Python?
    – Kubson
    Mar 1, 2017 at 7:17
  • @Kubson That sounds like a new question. Please ask it separately
    – Midavalo
    Mar 1, 2017 at 7:19
  • It seems this issue was already asked. My bad.
    – Kubson
    Mar 1, 2017 at 7:29

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