Before you create a geodatabase, you must decide what kind of geodatabase you need. When using ArcMap, you can use the following types of geodatabases:
File geodatabases store datasets in a folder of files on your computer. Each dataset is held as a file and can be up to 1 TB in size (and you can optionally configure a file geodatabase to store larger datasets if your hardware will allow it).
File geodatabases can be stored on both Microsoft Windows and Linux platforms, but you should avoid using shared directories for storage.
You can compress and encrypt file geodatabases for read-only, secure use.
You can publish web services to ArcGIS Server sites from maps containing file geodatabase data. You can also upload file geodatabases (in .zip format) to ArcGIS Online and ArcGIS Enterprise portals and publish the data it contains as a single hosted feature layer.
Personal geodatabases store datasets in a Microsoft Access (.mdb) file on disk. The storage sizes of personal geodatabases are effectively limited to between 250 and 500 MB for the entire geodatabase and are only supported on Windows operating systems.
Personal geodatabases can only be accessed by one client at a time, and you cannot publish web services from data in a personal geodatabase.
Desktop and workgroup geodatabases
Both desktop and workgroup geodatabases are stored on ArcGIS database servers. As they use SQL Server Express databases to store the geodatabase, each geodatabase has the same storage and CPU use restrictions that SQL Server Express databases have.
Desktop geodatabases allow only one editor at a time in each geodatabase, but they can support up to three read-only connections. You cannot publish web services from a desktop geodatabase.
Workgroup geodatabases allow multiple editors and read-only connections per geodatabase. You can also publish data from workgroup geodatabases to a workgroup-level ArcGIS Server site running on the same machine as the database server.
You must use ArcGIS Desktop clients to create, manage, and access desktop and workgroup geodatabases. Working with these geodatabases through SQL is not supported.
An enterprise geodatabase is stored in one of a number of supported database management systems, including the following:
- IBM Db2
- IBM Informix
- Microsoft SQL Server
This allows you to take advantage of some of the database storage, integrity, security, and maintenance options available for a database management system. However, this also means you should have a database administrator who can properly configure and maintain the database management system.
Enterprise geodatabases are sometimes referred to as multiuser geodatabases because they can support numerous user connections. They also support data versioning workflows that prevent users from locking datasets or overwriting another user's edits. You can also keep track of who has edited the datasets in an enterprise geodatabase.
When publishing data from a geodatabase to a web service, enterprise geodatabases offer you the most options.