I'm working with a large point dataset (700,000+) features which is just over 2gb in size. I wanted to split the dataset to reduce file size. However when I do a clip in ArcMap 10.5 on the shapefile, the .dbf remains the same size. I've tried searching for previous questions and read through several documents to no avail. Any thoughts?

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Let me provide further context based on comments/suggestions, I've tried clipping down to about a 1/3 of the points and only a very insignificant amount of file size for the .dbf was shaved off.

Keep in mind that the file is comprised of about 700,000+ features/rows. To try to select 1/3 of the feature by selecting rows within the attribute table would be a very cumbersome process compared to select tools or other methods.

I've also tried using the selected features method, than created layer from selected features, then export to shapefile. No change in file size.

  • 2
    If you convert your Shapefiles to FileGeodatabase featureclasses, it will most likely be much smaller.
    – klewis
    Aug 31, 2017 at 19:12
  • 1
    Fastest way to delete rows from .dbf is to mark them deleted. Save the edited file with a new name and dbf should shrink.
    – user30184
    Aug 31, 2017 at 19:23
  • 1
    Do you get the same results if, instead of clipping, you select the points and export to a new shapefile?
    – Bjorn
    Aug 31, 2017 at 21:02
  • 1
    I was just thinking if ArcGIS sometimes handles dbf in a somehow way than GDAL and QGIS gis.stackexchange.com/questions/162615/….
    – user30184
    Aug 31, 2017 at 21:23
  • 1
    Please do not fill comments with information which should be in the question. It's not fair to those who would answer to need to mine the comments for critical information.
    – Vince
    Sep 1, 2017 at 2:33

1 Answer 1


I wonder if your dbase file is incomplete? The maximum size of a single dbase file is 2GB, yours is very close to the limit. It is odd, both your dbf files have the exact same byte count but the shp file is smaller. ESRI recommends using a file geodatabase instead of a shapefile.

Shapefile specifications: https://www.loc.gov/preservation/digital/formats/fdd/fdd000326.shtml

dbase - max size 2 GB
text field - max size 254 characters

File Geodatabase specifications:

a single file geodatabase - no limit
a single feature class - max size 1 TB
text field width - max size 2,147,483,647 characters

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