I have a user who is using ArcMap 10.5.1 and several times his MXD has lost layers. This has occurred in two separate documents. He will work on a map, save the map, and close out. When he opens it back up, all the layers are missing. Essentially it is a blank map document except the layout still contains legend items, title, etc. that he has added. It also, on occasion, drops all toolbars. This does not occur on opening documents from other machines. All of this is an intermittent issue, very random in nature.

His normal.mxt has been deleted and a repair on the MXD has been run. Save As and Save a copy has also been used.

Opening the document from another machine has the same result.

He's running Windows 7, ArcMap 10.5.1 Basic, and the data is a mixture of file geodatabase and shapefile. Any thoughts?

Map Document with dropped layers

  • 1
    Couple of questions - 1. Is this always the same document, or any/every document created on that machine? 2. What happens if you open a document from another machine?
    – Midavalo
    May 16, 2019 at 16:44
  • It's happened to two documents. Multiple times on one document. The issue has not occurred opening a document from another machine. This issue is random though, he'll go weeks without it happening.
    – Evan
    May 16, 2019 at 17:17
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    Please edit your question to include any additional information
    – Midavalo
    May 16, 2019 at 17:19
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    Do you get the same thing happening with save a copy, save as and just saving an existing mxd?
    – Howeitzer
    Jun 17, 2019 at 5:52
  • Yes, and just recently we noticed that exporting to a map package will also eventually drop the layers.
    – Evan
    Jun 21, 2019 at 16:04

1 Answer 1


I don't know if this would solve your problem but it soved mine when I could not figure out why my new empty saved mxd suddenly took tens megabyte of disk space without any reason.

Rename the folder C:\Users\your_username\Documents\ArcGIS into something like ArcGIS_old and then repoen ArcMap and see if this fixes the problem.

This should create a new ArcMap folder in the aforementioned path. Still, my problem was very different than yours but maybe this could help you. Let me know!

  • 1
    That's interesting. Nothing is stored in that location, but that's not to say it wouldn't fix the issue. Since this problem is random, I may not know for some time. I'll keep everyone apprised.
    – Evan
    May 17, 2019 at 16:27

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