Within ArcGIS software, the term database servers refers to instances of Microsoft SQL Server Express that you have configured to store desktop or workgroup geodatabases. ArcGIS Desktop at the Desktop Standard or Desktop Advanced license level, ArcGIS Engine, and ArcGIS Server (workgroup edition) include installation files for SQL Server Express to allow you to create these database servers.
Anyone who has an Desktop Advanced or Desktop Standard license of ArcGIS Desktop, ArcGIS Engine with the Geodatabase Update option, or ArcGIS Enterprise workgroup can set up and use an instance of SQL Server Express (a database server) to store geodatabases.
You can set up a database server to use yourself, or you can add other users to the database server to allow them to access geodatabases on the database server. In most cases, the person who sets up the database server is the server administrator. That person is responsible for access to and maintenance of the database server.
The following is a summary of configuring and using a database server and the geodatabases it stores.
To set up a database server, install SQL Server Express and enable it to store geodatabases, add a connection to the SQL Server instance under Database Servers in the Catalog tree, and create geodatabases.
Install SQL Server Express
Use the SQL Server Express installation file provided with ArcGIS Desktop, ArcGIS Engine, or ArcGIS Enterprise to install SQL Server Express and enable it to store geodatabases.
Install a SQL Server client
To connect from ArcMap to the SQL Server Express instance, install the SQL Server client (odbc driver) on the computer where ArcMap is installed.
You can download SQL Server odbc drivers from the Microsoft website or My Esri. See Microsoft documentation for instructions on installing them.
You do not need to install the SQL Server client on the ArcGIS Server Workgroup machine since the SQL Server Express instance already contains the files needed to connect.
Once SQL Server Express and the SQL Server client are set up, start ArcMap and the Catalog window or the stand-alone ArcCatalog application to add a connection to the database server.
At this point, you are connected to the server, but no geodatabases exist. Therefore, your next step is to create one or more geodatabases on the database server.
If other users need to access the new geodatabases, you must add them to the database server.
As the server administrator, you add Windows logins to the database server for all users who must access the geodatabases on the database server. The server administrator is also responsible for assigning user permissions to the geodatabases.
You and any user who has read/write permission in the geodatabase can create or import data to a geodatabase on the database server. For information on populating your geodatabases with data, see the topics in the section 'Adding datasets.' To get started, see An overview of adding datasets to the geodatabase.
There are two ways to access the geodatabases on a database server from ArcMap: through Database Server or Database Connections in the Catalog tree.
Server and geodatabase administrators must create connections under the Database Servers node to perform administrative tasks such as creating a backup of a geodatabase or altering user permissions. Once you've added a database server connection, it is present when you restart ArcMap or ArcCatalog. You can double-click the database server to reconnect to it.
Users who only need to create, edit, publish, or read data from the geodatabases can connect to a specific geodatabase from the Database Connections node in the Catalog tree. Be aware that you must use a database connection (.sde file) when running many geoprocessing tools or if you will be publishing services. The server administrator should provide users with the information they need to create a database connection or create a connection file for them to use. See Preconfigure connection files for more information.
Maintain the server and geodatabases
In addition to creating geodatabases, adding users, and controlling user permissions, server administrators are responsible for the following tasks:
- Moving geodatabases between database servers
- Restoring geodatabases to the database server
- Upgrading SQL Server Express
- Updating ArcGIS license keys
Geodatabase maintenance tasks can be performed by the geodatabase administrator or the server administrator. Geodatabase maintenance tasks include the following:
Use geodatabase data
Once the database server and its geodatabases are set up, users with read/write permission on the data in the geodatabase can edit existing data. To get started with editing, see A quick tour of editing.
The data will also likely be used in maps. See the 'Mapping and visualization' section of the help for topics related to map making in ArcMap.
Geodatabase data can also be accessed through ArcGIS services. See Make your data accessible to ArcGIS Server for information on what you must do to access database servers from an ArcGIS Server site.