I have a very large .gdb that I want to reduce to my study area. Unfortunately, the study area is still quite big. I could select features that intersected my study area but when I tried Export > Save Selected Feature As...it crashed and only saved some of the features (4GB). Ideally, I would create another .gdb but it seems that QGIS does not support .gdb creation (read-only) or delete the features I don't need directly in the .gdb but as far as I know it is not possible to modify a layer in a .gdb.

  • Could you create and save subselections of the data based on thematic or spatial criteria?
    – Erik
    Feb 15, 2019 at 15:15
  • 1
    Why not try the geopackage format?
    – Gabriel
    Feb 15, 2019 at 15:18
  • @GabrielC. I don't understand the geopackage format even though I have looked into it. Doesn't it create layers that are not fully compatible with shapefiles? Feb 15, 2019 at 15:38
  • @Erik I have created subselections when I ran into the problem but it is not ideal. I would rather find another solution (if possible). Feb 15, 2019 at 15:39
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    What makes you think that GeoPackage is not compatible with shapefiles? It does lack many limitations of shapefiles, but all that you can save as shapefiles can also be stored into GeoPackage.
    – user30184
    Feb 15, 2019 at 15:43

2 Answers 2


Officially, .shp and .dbf files are limited to 2GB. Using GDAL Shapefile driver this can be exceeded, but as stated on this site, this is not recommended due to compatibility issues (See point #Size Issues).

As @Gabriel C. already mentioned, geopackage is a good alternative. You could also use a SpatialLite or SQLite database.


You may have a look at this from ESRI : geoprocessing-considerations-for-shapefile-output.htm

specificaly the part on Geometry limitations:

There is a 2 GB size limit for any shapefile component file, which translates to a maximum of roughly 70 million point features. The actual number of line or polygon features you can store in a shapefile depends on the number of vertices in each line or polygon (a vertex is equivalent to a point).

Shapefile have many other limitations (short field name, no datetime format, 255 character field length limit, problem with null value....) that should motivate you to use other format. You could for exemple use geopackage or spatialite database (both are single file format that are comparable to ESRI file geodatabse, geopackage being a simplified spatialite base)

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