Note: This article pertains to ArcGIS versions 8.x. 9.x and 10.0. Later versions of ArcGIS may contain different functionality, as well as different names and locations for menus, commands and geoprocessing tools.
Previous versions of ArcGIS cannot read or access geodatabases created from newer releases of ArcGIS. There are two exceptions to this statement:
Geodatabases are directly compatible between 9.0 and 9.1. It is possible to access and edit 9.0 geodatabases in 9.1 without upgrading them, and geodatabases that are created, modified or upgraded in 9.1 can be accessed and edited in 9.0.
Geodatabases are directly compatible between ArcGIS 9.2 Service Pack 5/Service Pack 6 and 9.3 or 9.3.1. It is possible to access and edit 9.2 geodatabases in 9.3 and 9.3.1 without upgrading them, and geodatabases that are created, modified or upgraded in 9.3 or 9.3.1 can be accessed and edited using 9.2 Service Pack 5 or 9.2 Service Pack 6.
For any other combination of ArcGIS and the geodatabase, the following steps facilitate the use of personal and file geodatabases with different releases of ArcGIS:
If it is not possible to create geodatabases from a previous release of ArcGIS, the following link in Related Information contains a .zip file with personal geodatabases from 8.3 onwards and file geodatabases created from 9.2 onwards.
*** At ArcGIS 10 the Create File GDB and Create Personal GDB geoprocessing tools have been augmented to include a parameter indicating to which ArcGIS version the created geodatabase should correspond.