I've run into a weird problem that I can't find described anywhere else online:

I loaded a point shapefile into my map document. Then, I set a layer definition query - this resulted in the layer displaying 199 features from the shapefile. I did not save a .lyr file, I was just using the layer in one map document's data frame.

Next: I try to load that same shapefile into a different dataframe in the same map document, but only 199 features show up. I check the layer definition query in the new dataframe and there isn't one. I try to re-load the shapefile, still only 199 features. I closed the map document, Arc, restarted my computer, loaded the shapefile in QGIS, etc. - no matter what, there's only 199 features matching the initial layer query I used.

Ultimately: I have a shapefile at the original file location but it is not the same shapefile - it now only contains the data that matched the layer definition query I set before.

I don't know when this happened specifically, unfortunately. I definitely never opened an editing session on the layer with the query, nor did I use field calculator outside of a session.

Has anyone had an experience where Arc randomly modified the source dataset like this, or know how this may have happened?

  • You're not likely to find folks who had their data randomly edited without an edit request. It is possible for data to be corrupted, but less likely in a way that leads to part of the data being accessible. It's unclear from your description how you "set a layer query" -- Was this a Definition Query on the layer? Did you save the layer as an .lyr file? Without a full sequence of events, even Tech Support couldn't help.
    – Vince
    Aug 19, 2019 at 19:07
  • @Vince updated the question, it was a layer definition query.
    – jyingling
    Aug 19, 2019 at 19:17
  • 1
    How many features are listed in ArcCatalog? Also, what dates are on the files (date last changed)?
    – SMiller
    Aug 19, 2019 at 20:35
  • 1
    What happens if you run a Repair Geometry on these data?
    – GBG
    Aug 19, 2019 at 23:21
  • @smiller 199 features listed, date last changed is August 15
    – jyingling
    Aug 20, 2019 at 14:44


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