An unknown ERROR occurred writing shapefile [new shapefile].shp

Last Published: April 25, 2020

Error Message

The ArcView Shapefile Projection Utility returns the error message:

An unknown ERROR occurred writing shapefile [new shapefile].shp


There are two possible causes:

· Your machine is running out disk space.

· The attribute table either contains a date field with one or more records having no values or it contains a number field greater than 18 characters wide.

Solution or Workaround

-- Increase disk space

Move or delete files as necessary to increase the free space of your C:\ drive. You should have no less than 50 MB of free space, and 100 MB should be adequate for most situations.

If increasing disk space does not solve the problem, try the method below.

-- Modify the attribute table

Prepare the shapefile:

1. Add the theme and open the attribute table.
2. Select Properties from the table menu.
3. Uncheck all the fields except for the Shape field.
4. Select Start editing from the Table menu.
5. Add a string field named "Temp" with a width of eight.
6. Select Stop editing from the Table menu and save your edits.
7. Close the attribute table and make the View window active.

Project the shapefile:

8. Select Convert to Shapefile from the View menu.
9. Enter a name for the new shapefile and click OK.
10. Click Yes when prompted to Add Theme to the view.
11. Start the Projection Utility.
12. Specify the new theme as the input theme and proceed with projection process.
13. Delete all instances of the newly projected shapefile from ArcView.

Repair the shapefile:

14. Using Windows Explorer, navigate to the directory location of the new shapefile.
15. Delete the .dbf file.
16. Navigate to the location of the original shapefile.
17. Copy the .dbf and paste it into the same directory as the newly projected shapefile.
18. Rename the pasted .dbf so that the file name of the original DBF matches the name of the newly projected shapefile.

Article ID:000001907

  • Legacy Products

Get help from ArcGIS experts

Contact technical support

Download the Esri Support App

Go to download options

Discover more on this topic