I am trying to figure out the maximum size of attachment in a file and ArcSDE geodatabases while working on a project specification details. I am not able to find these figures documented by Esri anywhere.

Running own tests, it seems as a file geodatabase has a limit of ca 600MB per file that is being attached. When trying to attach everything that is larger than 600MB, I am getting an error (where Points3D is the name of the feature class I am trying to attach a file to).

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Just to see whether it is a file geodatabase only limit, I have run some tests with a SQL Server enterprise geodatabase and here I am getting stuck at somewhere between 700 and 800MB and either get the same error message (except that instead of the feature class name I have my SQL Server database filegroup name) or have ArcMap unexpectadly crashed and closed.

What is the official/documented maximum file size limit that one can upload to an Esri file geodatabase? I also welcome comments if someone has succeeded uploading anything larger than 1GB to a geodatabase as an attachment.


In theory, there are no limits, except those of the operating system. The 600-700mb threshold is likely due to the heap size of a 32-bit application (two copies of the object being saved are needed, so 1gb is out of the realm of possibility).

I wouldn't ever store more than 20-25mb in a LOB type, just because it is so stunningly inefficient. It's far easier to store a file system path or other URI in a string field, and let applications access the data directly.

UPDATE: I have word from a trusted source that 64-bit clients can load "far more" than 1Gb into BLOB columns "if the memory of the application hasn't been fragmented" (allowing the app to malloc that much contiguous RAM [twice over]). It still remains unwise to stuff binary data streams into a database when they can be accessed much more easily from a filesystem (especially when 32-bit clients would be unable to retrieve these large BLOBs).

  • Thanks, @Vince. Would you be able to elaborate on heap size of ArcMap, please? I don't say that I will store such large files inside the geodatabase as attachments, I just want to be able to refer to the documented limit and know why ArcMap exposes a limitation on the file size :) – Alex Tereshenkov Apr 8 '14 at 11:04
  • Heap size is an operating system property, not something set by an application. Worse yet, the order of allocation and return can drastically impact the effective limit, so it's not really documentable. – Vince Apr 8 '14 at 11:21
  • Thank you, Vince! Now I have something to include to the specification. – Alex Tereshenkov Apr 8 '14 at 11:47

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