File geodatabase appears as a folder in ArcMap

Last Published: April 25, 2020


In some cases, the contents of a file geodatabase cannot be viewed in ArcMap/ArcCatalog because the database appears as folder rather than a geodatabase.



This problem may occur when a file geodatabase is received from someone else, the file geodatabase is copied to a different location, or the file geodatabase is corrupted.

A file geodatabase is stored as a folder of files, and ArcGIS identifies a file geodatabase based on the following three criteria which, if not met, causes the file geodatabase to appear as a folder in ArcMap.

  • a file named gdb must be present in the file geodatabase folder
  • a file named timestamps must be present in the file geodatabase folder
  • the file geodatabase folder name must include the .gdb extension
The gdb and timestamps files must be present in the file geodatabase folder

Solution or Workaround

A. Copy or create a gdb and timestamps file
  • If the gdb or the timestamps file (or both) are missing, copy the file(s) from an existing file geodatabase, and paste them in the corrupt file geodatabase.
  1. Open an existing file geodatabase in Windows Explorer. Select the gdb or the timestamps file (or both), and right-click > Copy.
  2. Paste the copied gdb and timestamps files in the file geodatabase which does not contain the gdb and timestamps files.
  • Create the gdb or timestamps file (or both) in the corrupt file geodatabase folder.
  1. Open a text editor, such as Notepad. Do not type anything into the document.
  2. Save the document with the name 'gdb' in the corrupt file geodatabase folder that is missing the gdb file.
Do not save it with the .txt extension.
  1. Repeat Steps 1 and 2 to create a timestamps file in the corrupt file geodatabase folder.
B. Create a new file geodatabase in ArcMap to replace the corrupted geodatabase
  1. In ArcMap, create a new file geodatabase in the Catalog window. For more information on how to create a file geodatabase, refer to the Related Information section.
  2. Open the corrupted file geodatabase in Windows Explorer, select all the content in the folder, right-click the content, and select Send to > Compressed (zipped) folder.
  3. Right-click the zipped file, and select Extract All.
  4. In the Extract Compressed (Zipped) Folders dialog box, browse to the newly created file geodatabase in ArcMap and click the Extract button to extract the data to the new file geodatabase.
If the Copy File dialog box appears, select Copy and Replace. 
  1. In ArcMap, right-click the new file geodatabase and select Refresh. The new file geodatabase is now ready to be used.

Article ID:000012096

  • ArcMap

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