Optimizing map content for performance

The way you set up your data and how you use it can be optimized to improve performance in ArcMap. Many factors play a role in speed including the format of the data source; the data's location; and the properties you set for the layers, data frames, and layouts. Below are some guidelines for maintaining performance when setting up data and working with the contents of your map.

Setting up your data

Choosing the format in which to store your data is often a balance of many factors including the needs of your organization or users, purpose of the data, size of the data, analysis or data maintenance requirements, and so on. However, in terms of speed, shapefiles are generally fastest, followed by personal geodatabases, then file geodatabases. For optimal map performance, the data in your map should reside locally on the computer that is being used to view it rather than on a remote machine. For maps that will typically display relatively small areas of large datasets, serving data via ArcSDE will yield significant performance benefits over storing this same data in files.

Avoid personal geodatabases for any situation where you must have multiuser access or are serving the map, since this format was not designed for these purposes.

Here are some additional considerations for setting up your data:

Optimizing layers, rasters, and layouts

One of the first and easiest steps you can take is to look through your map and remove any unused layers and data frames. Then, check both the page layout and data views and ensure that your map document is clear of data frames and layers that are unrelated to the map's purpose. In addition, in layout view, look through your map elements and remove any unnecessary ones.

Once you've done this, the sections below provide additional considerations for improving performance. For information on symbology and performance, see Optimizing map symbols for performance.

Optimizing maps to be served with ArcGIS Server

The tips for optimizing maps also provide performance benefits for authoring maps to be served with ArcGIS Server. In addition, here are some other tips specific to maps to be served. For more tips, see Publishing map services.

When serving maps, design the map for the intended audience. Include the appropriate layers and symbology, but do not include anything that the audience does not require for this application. Remove any map layers or data frames that are not needed for the intended application. Consider making only a few layers visible by default, since users can turn on layers as they need them.

While using a cached map service is always the fastest way to serve map services because the map is only rendered once at the time the cache is created, creating a cached map is not always practical for dynamic or changing data. When it is not appropriate to rely on cached maps, following the tips in these sections of the help will also improve performance while preparing dynamic map documents and delivering them through your map service.