A quick tour of geodatabase upgrades

Upgrading a geodatabase allows you to use the functionality available in the latest release of the software.

Use the Upgrade Geodatabase geoprocessing tool or Python script to upgrade a file, personal, or ArcSDE geodatabase.

The tool and script provide an option to run a check to be sure the geodatabase meets specific prerequisites for upgrade as well as an option to perform the geodatabase upgrade. Esri recommends that you do both the prerequisite check and the upgrade.

  • Upgrades from beta versions of the software are not supported.
  • Once a geodatabase has been upgraded, previous versions of ArcGIS will be unable to open it since older versions of ArcGIS cannot read newer versions of the geodatabase.
  • There is no formal mechanism to downgrade a geodatabase to a previous version. If after upgrading to a newer version you want to downgrade the geodatabase, you must restore the old database from backup or—for file and personal geodatabases—use the backup copy of the geodatabase you created before you upgraded.

Prerequisite checks

You should include the prerequisite check when you run the Upgrade Geodatabase tool or call it from a Python script.

Running the prerequisite check prior to upgrading allows you to detect whether there are actions you must take to place the geodatabase in a state that can be upgraded. The results of the prerequisite check appear in the geoprocessing window and are written to a log file, GDBUpgrade<n>.log, which is created in your system TEMP directory. The <n> in the log file name is a unique number identifying the specific prerequisite check or upgrade event.

When run on a file or personal geodatabase, the prerequisite check detects the following:

For ArcSDE geodatabases, the following prerequisites are evaluated:

Once the geodatabase meets these prerequisites and you have made a backup of the geodatabase and (for ArcSDE geodatabases) completed the steps in the preparation topic appropriate to your DBMS, you can upgrade the geodatabase.

What happens when you upgrade

Basically, when you upgrade a geodatabase, the system tables and any associated functions, types, or stored procedures are updated. More specifically, when you upgrade from ArcGIS 9.3.x or an earlier release, the following processes happen:

  1. Checks are made to see if the geodatabase can be upgraded.
  2. If you are upgrading an ArcSDE geodatabase, the ArcSDE system tables, functions, procedures, and types are upgraded.
  3. New geodatabase system tables are created.
  4. The contents of the old geodatabase system tables are copied to the new geodatabase system tables.
  5. The geodatabase release number is increased by the appropriate increment.
  6. The old geodatabase system tables are dropped.

The upgrade process is designed to be fault tolerant; if the upgrade fails at any point, you can rerun the upgrade on the partially upgraded geodatabase once the cause of the failure has been corrected. Any partially completed operations will have been rolled back or will be skipped when the upgrade is run again. You do not need to restore or reload the database from backup.

If you are unable to finish the Upgrade after an unexpected error or event—for example, you have run out of time and your users need to continue their work—Esri does not recommend using the partially upgraded geodatabase for production. Instead, you should restore from backup prior to allowing your users to connect to the production geodatabase.

As mentioned in the previous section, a log file for the upgrade, GDBUpgrade<n>.log, is created in your system TEMP directory. This file records the progress of the upgrade operation. If any errors are encountered during upgrade, they will be written to this file. If you encounter any unexpected errors during the upgrade process, read this file.


Upgrading existing metadata, network datasets, parcel (cadastral) fabrics, or schematic datasets from ArcGIS 9.3.1 or earlier schemas to ArcGIS 10 are separate processes. See the following topics for information on these migrations:

Accessing the Upgrade Geodatabase functionality

There are multiple ways to access the the Upgrade Geodatabase functionality: you can open the Upgrade Geodatabase tool from the Database Properties dialog box, by searching for the tool using the Search dialog box in ArcMap or ArcCatalog, or directly from the toolbox. Alternatively, you can run a Python script to upgrade the geodatabase.


You cannot use the sdesetup command or the ArcSDE Post Installation wizard to upgrade an ArcSDE geodatabase.

Perform these steps to open the Upgrade Geodatabase tool from the Database Properties dialog box:

  1. Start ArcMap and open the Catalog window, or start ArcCatalog.
  2. Right-click the geodatabase you want to upgrade.
  3. Click Properties.
  4. Click the General tab.
  5. Click Upgrade Geodatabase.

To open the tool directly, use the Search window.

  1. Start ArcMap and open the Catalog window, or start ArcCatalog.
  2. Click the Search window button Search Window.
  3. Click Tools at the top of the search window to restrict your search to geoprocessing tools.
  4. Type upgrade geodatabase in the search text box and press ENTER.
  5. Click the link to open the Upgrade Geodatabase geoprocessing tool.

You can also open the tool directly from the Toolboxes node in the Catalog tree.

  1. Start ArcMap and open the Catalog window, or start ArcCatalog.
  2. Expand the Toolboxes node in the Catalog tree.
  3. Expand System Toolboxes.
  4. Expand the Data Management toolbox.
  5. Expand the Database toolset.
  6. Double-click Upgrade Geodatabase.

You can also use the Upgrade Geodatabase tool as part of a model.

Another way to access the Upgrade Geodatabase functionality is to run a Python script for upgrade. To do so, open the script at a system command prompt, in the ArcPy window in ArcGIS Desktop, or in PythonWin. See A quick tour of Python and Upgrade Geodatabase for more information.

Specific upgrade instructions

For instructions on upgrading a specific type of geodatabase, see whichever of the following topics applies:

Related Topics