Our team frequently creates mosaic datasets, and adds rasters to them. We keep older datasets (and rasters) for archival purposes.

Now that we're running low on disk storage, we'd like to remove some of the older rasters. But we're not sure whether doing so breaks existing services. To that end, we'd like to know what ArcGIS creates when rasters are added to a mosaic dataset. Does ArcGIS replicate the rasters into the GDB folder? Or does it simply create metadata that points to the rasters at their source?

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    Your question title and body ask different questions. Please Edit the question to bring them into alignment. – Vince Apr 1 at 22:09
  • In the case of mosaic datasets, it depends on what your inputs when you add rasters to the mosaic. – Vince Apr 1 at 23:07
  • A mosaic dataset only points to the rasters but the overviews are local (in a different folder). The old Raster Catalog had options of managed (images imported into the database) and unmanaged (only point to rasters). If you want to have your rasters in your raster catalog imported into the database then import them first and build a raster catalog from that but beware, paths are not relative, moving the database or renaming any part of the folder tree and the raster dataset wont be able to find them. – Michael Stimson Apr 1 at 23:07

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