Attaching a geodatabase to a database server

This topic applies to ArcEditor and ArcInfo only.

The attach operation is most often used to transfer databases from one SQL Server Express instance to another. After the database has been detached from one instance, it can be copied to another server and attached to a different SQL Server Express instance.

Attaching a geodatabase to a database server registers the data file with the SQL Server Express instance. The geodatabase is added to the server and appears in the Catalog tree.

The attached geodatabase will have the same name as it did on the instance from which it was detached. Therefore, be sure you do not have any other geodatabases with that name on the instance to which you attach the database. If you do, the attach operation will fail because database names must be unique on a SQL Server instance.

The users and schemas, along with the data, remain in the transferred database. If the users who own data in the database do not exist on the database server to which the database is transferred, you need to add them. If they cannot be added (for example, if the database has been moved from one domain to another and the data owners were all domain logins), data will be inaccessible to any users who were not granted access to the data before the database was moved. Therefore, it is a good idea to grant access to the data to the dbo user before moving the database. That way, at least one user can access the data after the database has been moved.

When the geodatabase is attached to the database server, the license is updated in the geodatabase. That means if you detach a geodatabase from a database server that was licensed under ArcGIS Desktop or ArcGIS Engine and attach it to a database server that is licensed through ArcGIS Server at the Workgroup level, the license in the geodatabase is updated. See Changing license keys for database servers and their geodatabases for information on changing licenses using the attach operation.

You must be a server administrator and a Windows administrator on the machine where SQL Server Express is installed to attach a geodatabase to a database server.

  1. Log in as a server administrator, start ArcMap, then open the Catalog window.
  2. In the Catalog tree, right-click the database server to which you want to attach the geodatabase.
  3. Click Attach.
  4. On the Attach Geodatabase dialog box, browse to the geodatabase data file you are attaching.
  5. Click OK.

It is not recommended that you attach an ArcSDE geodatabase for SQL Server created through an Enterprise-level license of ArcGIS Server to a database server. There are a number of requirements that must be met for this to work, making the process prone to error. For moving an ArcSDE geodatabase licensed through ArcGIS Server Enterprise to an ArcSDE geodatabase for SQL Server, the recommended method is to use geodatabase replication.