I use ArcGIS Desktop and ArcGIS Server to distribute mapping applications within an organisation. Large GeoTIFF mosaics have the options of being tiled and/or also including pyramids as described in the GeoTIFF specification.

Can ArcGIS efficiently use these features or are they ignored by ArcGIS software due to the fact that ArcGIS Desktop creates their own ovr pyramid format?

1 Answer 1


Just opened a GeoTIFF with internal overviews with ArcGIS Pro. It finds 6 overview levels, just as GDAL does.

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In another test I removed the internal pyramids and opened the file again. This time ArcGIS pro wants to create pyramids.

enter image description here

Conclusion: ArcGIS Pro can use internal pyramids even it prefers external pyramids when it creates them. That if not a wonder because ESRI is using code that is a fork of GDAL for accessing raster data (see https://www.arcgis.com/home/search.html?t=content&q=tags%3A%22GDAL%22&start=1&num=20&focus=applications and https://github.com/Esri/gdal). The .ovr format of external pyramids is the same that gdaladdo https://gdal.org/programs/gdaladdo.html generates in read-only mode -ro. For creating overviews in the other format that ArcGIS supports (.rrd) gdaladdo has a configuration option --config USE_RRD YES

  • It's not a fork, which is used to create a new process, but a GDAL dynamic link library (DLL) to access I/O functions.
    – Vince
    Nov 9, 2021 at 16:00
  • 1
    By fork I meant the forked gdal repository github.com/Esri/gdal.
    – user30184
    Nov 9, 2021 at 16:15

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