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FAQ: Where are ArcGIS Desktop files installed?

Question

Where are ArcGIS Desktop files installed?

Answer

This article details file locations of ArcGIS Desktop installs, as well as the locations of temporary and work files created while the application is running.

File Install Locations
ArcGIS requires installation to be performed by a user with administrative privileges or elevated permissions. For information on deploying managed ArcGIS Setups, refer to the white paper entitled, "Deploying Managed ArcGIS 9 Setups" by way of the Related Information section below.

By default the application files install to:
<system drive>\Program Files\ArcGIS

ArcInfo Workstation files are installed to:
<system drive>\ArcGIS\arcexe9x

Concurrent Use License Manager files are installed to:
<system drive>\Program Files\ESRI

Support files are installed to:
- <system drive>\Program Files\Common Files\ESRI
- <system drive>\Program Files\Common Files\ESRI\Raster
- <system drive>\Program Files\Leica Geosystems
- <system drive>\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared
- <windows location>\Fonts
- <windows location>\system32
- <system location>\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\ESRI\ArcCatalog

Optional installation files are installed to:
Desktop Developer Kit:
- <user specified location>\ArcGIS\DeveloperKit
Optional .Net support for developers:
- <windows location>\assembly

Tutorial Files are installed to:
- <user specified location>\ArcGIS\ArcTutor

Crystal reports for ESRI are installed to:
- <system location>\Program Files\Business Objects

Digital Books are installed to:
- <user specified location>\ESRI_Library

Registry Keys
ArcGIS writes to a number of registry keys on installation as it registers all the components that make up the software. On install the majority of these are in the following hives in the registry:

- HKLM\Software\Classes (for COM components)
- HKLM\Software\ESRI

However, some 3rd party files, such as Crystal reports or Microsoft VBA, add their own registry keys on install.

Additional registry keys are stored in HKCU when the applications are used.

Run Time File Locations
The ArcGIS Desktop applications do not require administrative rights to run the applications.

When the ArcGIS Desktop applications are run some of the processes create files for use by that process, some of them are user preferences and others are temporary files.

Application Settings
User preferences and templates and various other information are stored within:
- <system location>\Documents and Settings\<Current User>\Application data\ESRI

A link to the geography network is also created in:
- <system location>\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\ESRI\ArcCatalog

Initial raster format support lists are initialized on the first application startup at:
- <system location>\Program Files\Common Files\ESRI\Raster\devices\ntx86\RDOConfig

Note:
If these are not created the application can still function correctly.

Temporary Files
Temporary ArcGIS files are created in the system defined temporary location, typically:
- <system location>\Documents and Settings\<Current User>\Local Settings\Temp

This location can be changed using the Windows system environment variable TEMP to any location.

In addition operations that use topology such as Geodatabase topology or some geoprocessing functions doing geographic overlay create temporary .xx files. These temporary file are created in various locations, for example, C:\Program Files\ArcGIS\bin, C:\Program Files\ArcGIS\ArcToolbox\Toolboxes, and where a script may be run. However, if the system does not have write access to these locations, the system uses the defined Windows Temporary location instead. In addition the ARCTMPDIR environment variable can be set to specify where these temporary files are created.

User Specified Temporary File Locations
Additionally within some ArcGIS processes, users can specify a temporary file location for specific processes. If not specified, the current windows temporary file location is used.

For example:
- Users can optionally specify a 'Scratch Workspace' for temporary results in the Geoprocessing environment settings.
- Within ArcGlobe users can specify a location for the ArcGlobe data cache.
- Spatial Analyst and 3D Analyst Toolbars allow users to specify a temporary 'Working Directory'.

Data Files
Users can specify where data files are created and accessed from and these files may have additional information created at this location during their use, for example, index files may be created for an existing DBF file.

Registry Entries
ArcGIS creates and modify a number of registry entries when the application is being used. These are generally located in:
HKCU\Software\ESRI

These settings are specific to the user and if they do not exist the applications create them on-the-fly.

Additional registry keys may be created by 3rd party components such as VBA or Crystal Reports.

Related Information