A quick tour of map caching

Below is an overview of the important parts of the software you need to be familiar with when creating and maintaining map caches.

The Caching tab

From this tab in the map service's properties, you can configure settings for your cache. This includes tiling scheme information, such as scales and image format, as well as options like whether tiles can be created on demand. You should fill out the settings on this tab before you begin creating cache tiles.

This tab is available in ArcCatalog, the Catalog window in ArcMap, and Manager.

The Caching tab in the Catalog window.

For guidelines on using the Caching tab, see Available map cache properties.

The Manage Map Server Cache Tiles tool

The Manage Map Server Cache Tiles tool allows you to create, update, or delete tiles in your cache. You can access it in two ways:

Note: The Manage Map Server Cache Tiles tool is not accessible through Manager.

Screenshot of the caching tab in ArcMap/ArcCatalog, caching tools in the

Since Manage Map Server Cache Tiles is a geoprocessing tool, it can be scripted just like any other tool to help you update your cache on a regular basis.

For guidelines on using this tool, see Creating map cache tiles.


The Generate Map Server Cache tool, frequently used in ArcGIS Server 9.2, has been deprecated. At ArcGIS Server 9.3 and beyond, you can use Manage Map Server Cache Tiles to create tiles for the cache. If you're creating the cache programmatically, use Create Map Server Cache to initialize the cache, followed by Manage Map Server Cache Tiles.

The server cache directory

The server cache directory is the folder on disk where your cache tiles are stored. It's a good practice to associate the server cache directory with a virtual directory on your Web server so that tiles can be retrieved through a URL.

You can open the server cache directory in Windows Explorer to examine the cache tiles and the tiling scheme file conf.xml. The image below shows an exploded format cache where each tile is stored as a single file. With a compact format cache, you will see larger files called bundles that store multiple tiles.

Windows Explorer reveals the server cache directory.

To learn more about the server cache directory, see Available map cache properties.