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Technical Article   FAQ:  Are there file size limitations for shapefiles?

Article ID: 37447
Software:  ArcGIS - ArcEditor 9.3.1 ArcGIS - ArcInfo 9.3.1 ArcGIS - ArcView 9.3.1
Platforms:  Windows XP


Are there file size limitations for shapefiles?


The shapefile format defines the geometry and attributes of geographically referenced features in three or more files with specific file extensions that are stored in the same project workspace.

Required shapefile component file extensions are:

.shp - The main file that stores the feature geometry.

.shx - The index file that stores the index of the feature geometry.

.dbf - The dBASE table that stores the attribute information of features.

There is a limitation on shapefile component file size, not on the shapefile size. All component files of a shapefile are limited to 2GB each.

Accordingly, the .dbf cannot exceed 2GB, and the .shp cannot exceed 2GB. These are the only component files that are likely to approach the 2GB limit.

Therefore, the total size of a shapefile (the full set of component files) can exceed 2GB.

Related Information

Created: 12/15/2009
Last Modified: 5/3/2011

Article Rating: (2)
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By Tom__R - 08/11/2014 3:34 PM

The article needs to be updated.

Why are there size limits? What are the consequences if you try to create a shapefile with components larger than 2GB?


By pon_arul77 - 03/07/2013 9:59 PM

Great article! It helped a lot!