A coworker can open up a brand new install of 10.4.1, can add data, and save a map, but cannot open existing MXDs. The system tries for a while, then shuts ArcMap down with no error.

Is there any chance this has to do with templates?

Currently, due to some profile issues, I have limited access to his machine for testing.

OTW, it might take days for an administrator to do a new install. I verified that Windows is not hiding files or file types in the template directory on his C drive.

  • 1
    What does OTW mean?
    – PolyGeo
    May 19, 2017 at 21:05
  • Are you using an SDE geodatabase? We're any of the SDE datasets versioned? Did the MXD access any non-DEFAULT versions? May 20, 2017 at 0:53
  • Does the same MXD work fine on other PCs? Or does it only cause problems on that one PC? May 23, 2017 at 3:05
  • On the problem PC, can you open ArcMap with a new blank document, and then successfully connect to the the same datasource(s) that the problem MXD use? May 23, 2017 at 3:20
  • Yes, the same MXD works fine on other PCs. Yes, he can open a blank map and add data sources, save it and reopen that map. It is about half of his maps that will not open.
    – danak
    May 24, 2017 at 20:40

2 Answers 2


My experience is with 10.3.1, but I suspect it's much the same. ArcMap is very poor at handling some types of problems which SHOULD be handled gracefully but for which it includes no proper error handling and just crashes instead.

In my case, I know this happens when using a versioned SDE geodatabase and the MXD includes layers from a non-DEFAULT version which is no longer present in the SDE. Attempts to open the file result in a long delay, followed by a crash. In this particular case, the work around is simply to open a new blank map and then recreate a version with the same name as used previously. Then close it and reopen the old MXD.

However, I suspect that there could be a variety of other situations in which the geodatabase has changed slightly and therefore is no longer entirely compatible with the MXD which could cause such a crash. So if it is not a versioning issue, it may be difficult to guess at what else the cause might be and you may need to contact Esri support.

  • The maps did not all have broken links. I am familiar with the takes forever SDE broken link issue, which also happens when the server name changes or the type of connection changes. That was not happening here. The user is out of office right now, but the problem may have cleared up. Gremlins?
    – danak
    May 22, 2017 at 18:00
  • Never mind. I just though it was worth checking. I've found that it behaves completely differently with a missing data source than what it does with a missing version on a data source that is not missing. You didn't state what kind of geodatabase you're using, nor if you're using versioning on the database, so it's all just guesswork. May 23, 2017 at 3:02

You haven't explained what kind of geodatabase you're using, so still a bit of stabbing in the dark here...

Another reason that MXDs may cause a crash on ArcMap 10.4.x when they worked fine on 10.3.x (or earlier) is that 10.4 no longer supports older versions of MSSQL. In particular MSSQL 2008 is no longer supported, and attempts to use it are known to cause ArcGIS Desktop (or ArcGIS Server) to crash.

If you are using an SDE geodatabase and it is running on MSSQL 2008 (or earlier), or if your local MSSQL client on the desktop Windows is MSSQL 2008 (or earlier), then you should upgrade the MSSQL client on the desktop.


  • Most of the references are to shape files; a few to MSSQL SDE, mostly raster files. Every other user and machine can open these maps, even our 10.2 legacy machine can open the maps that were saved as 10.2. The user has MSSql 2012 client; the strange problem is that he can open some maps with the exact same SDE references. We have corrected any broken links he had; uninstalled and reinstalled 10.4.1; erased template files; checked that no wizards or other slow-loading options are in effect; even copied all the layers to a new map. I have only a couple of ideas left...
    – danak
    May 24, 2017 at 19:34

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