I'm wondering if there is a way around or an alternative way to backup a File or Personal Geodatabase.

For example:

If I have a very large dataset within the File or Personal Geodatabase and I want to backup it up to several media storage devices such as External Hard drive, flash drive, DVD etc. Can this process be automated instead of performing it manually.

I work under the Government, so I may be limited to what I can do here in the office.

  • 2
    You are asking for an alternative but how are you performing your backups now? i.e. an alternative to what?
    – PolyGeo
    Commented Feb 5, 2014 at 20:32
  • To find another way easier method to backup other than media devices.
    Commented Feb 5, 2014 at 20:34
  • Is the file/personal gdb compressed (arctoolbox?)
    – Mapperz
    Commented Feb 5, 2014 at 20:35
  • Before I do that, it is best to backup or something could happen to the geodatabase like corrupt it. I could have do that though.
    Commented Feb 5, 2014 at 20:36
  • I store many FGDB's in a folder synced and backed-up to the cloud with Google Drive.
    – Aaron
    Commented Feb 5, 2014 at 21:20

5 Answers 5


If you are looking to backup your geodatabase entirely, then this is the simplest approach. Create a windows batch file that copies your geodatabase to your media and add it to the scheduled task at midnight.

Here is the script, copy it and paste it on a new Notepad window and save it as backupgdb.bat. Replace C:\Data\mygeodatabase.gdb path in the code with your original gdb folder, and replace E:\Backup with your target backup location.

The script will automatically append the current date so you don't have to worry about that.

XCOPY "C:\Data\mygeodatabase.gdb" "E:\Backup\mygeodatabase%date:/=%" /D /E /C /R /I /K /Y 

Now add the backupgdb.bat to the scheduled task, following are the necessary steps to do so.

  • From the start menu, type taskschd.msc to open up the Task Scheduler
  • Click on Create Basic Task and type in the name of the task, BackupGDB, click Next.
  • Select Daily, so the task runs on a daily basis. Click Next.
  • Select the time you want this task to run, leave it at midnight and click Next
  • Select Start a Program then click Next this way we let Windows start our Backupgdb.bat program.
  • Browse to your Backupgdb.bat file.
  • Click Finish and you are done.

You can create multiple batch files to backup to different locations using the same approach I guess. So you might have Backupgdb_Flash.bat, Backupgdb_NetworkDrive.bat etc..

This method might not be efficient if you want to backup a particular dataset in your geodatabase, as it will simply copy your entire geodatabase to a different location. If you have only a single dataset which is being constantly updated while rest of datasets are static, you will end up copying unchanged redundant data everyday. To copy a particular dataset only I recommend using Geodatabase Replication with a python script instead.

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  • How would I retrieve it if the geodatabase becomes corrupt ? BTW, thanks for the information !
    Commented Feb 6, 2014 at 15:55
  • Simply delete the corrupted one. Replace it with dated version from your new backup history. You don't even have to use ArcCatalog
    – hnasr
    Commented Feb 6, 2014 at 16:10

you can remove the extension then put it back and it will not affect your data, but I don't really see the point: if you don't touch it you will not change it either. Note that the file gdb is a directory, so you are still in danger that one of the files gets deleted : afterremoving the extension it will look (and behave) like any other directory.

I would rather zip it.

  • it depends how large dataset and if you zip it it would not work. What is the alternative ?
    Commented Feb 5, 2014 at 21:03

I would say the easiest way to backup a geodatabase (aside from just copying and pasting it within ArcCatalog) is to create a new one and 'load' the data you want to preserve into it. You could potentially add your thumb drive to ArcCatalog, create a new empty file gdb on your thumb drive and then right-click the new gdb and 'load' the data from the already existing gdb. The problem here would be size. You mentioned 'very large dataset'. Is it larger than 8GB or 16GB? Those are easy thumb drive sizes to get a hold of. If it is larger, the only way to do it would be with an external hard drive and then I would recommend the 'load data' over a copy/paste. I think you could write a Python script to do the job (and just double-click it or add it as a scheduled task to automate the whole thing), but you would not be able to use the 'load data' tool. If you wrote a Python script, it would probably be: Create empty gdb, Copy Features. As previously stated, you won't want to change the file extension, as this can (and probably will) render the gdb unreadable.

P.S. Don't use Personal geodatabases (.mdb), as the next update will render them useless.

  • Ben, Yes about 1 TB and it is a raster so that is why I am trying to find an alternative way. Thanks !
    Commented Feb 5, 2014 at 21:10
  • Ben, Agree copy it to external hard drive is one way I can do that but I want to see if there are other options or suggested from others for a better alternative ideas.
    Commented Feb 5, 2014 at 21:12
  • I agree with Ben that exporting your raster to a new file GDB on an external or network drive is a good option. I would also not recommend altering file names or manipulating the .gdb outside of ArcCatalog.
    – Adam
    Commented Feb 5, 2014 at 23:56
  • I would go with this approach, python script that does this job. Even a batch script will suffice, as you are only manipulating folders and files.
    – hnasr
    Commented Feb 6, 2014 at 5:14

If you have the ability to migrate your File GDB to an ArcSDE Geodatabase then you can use the built in Administration tools to backup your data.

  • Unfortunely, we do not have ArcSDE at my office. We are backward US Government.
    Commented Feb 10, 2014 at 21:54

Wonder would if I send this File Geodatabase and in it has raster that has 635 GB be able to export to XML workspace document ? Will it cause problem sending it out and write it to XML? I am currently not in the office today due to USA President's Day.

XML Workspace Document

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