Problem: Can't import a DEM


When attempting to import a DEM into Arcview with Spatial Analyst, the status bar flashes a message but a grid is not returned. When attempting a second time, ArcView sometimes locks up.


There are three known issue that may cause this problem.

  • Conflict with Graphics Display driver
  • $HOME directory is not 8.3 compliant
  • Insufficient file and folder permissions

Solution or Workaround

Test for a graphics card conflict.

  1. Make sure you have a copy of the DEM loaded on the local machine.
  2. Boot the computer in Safe/VGA MODE
Safe Mode (Windows 95/98):
  1. Select Shut Down from the Start menu.
  2. Check Restart and click OK.
  3. Press and hold down the F8 key when the screen goes blank.
  4. Release the F8 key when the menu appears.
  5. Select the menu option #3 for Safe Mode.
VGA Mode (Windows NT/2000):
  1. Select Shut Down from the Start menu.
  2. Check Restart and click OK.
  3. Select VGA Mode and press the Enter key.
3. Perform the import function again.
If the import works properly, then you will need to update your graphics display driver. The most up-to-date drivers are available via the graphics card manufacturer's Web site. 

Make sure the $HOME variable is set to an 8.3 compliant directory

1. Determine the $HOME variable path.

  1. Open a new view.
  2. Select Add Theme from the View menu.
  3. Replace the path in the Directory field with the environment variable, for example $HOME
  4. Press the Enter key.

The Directory field will now show the actual path.

2. Examine the path for 8.3 compliant violations.
For a file or path name to be 8.3 compliant, the prefix portion of the name must not be longer than 8 characters. The suffix portion of the name must be 3 characters long exactly. Additionally, the path or file name must not contain special characters, such as, spaces, #, $, and so forth.

3. Set the $HOME variable to a valid directory, if needed.

See: How To: Set ArcView's home directory

Make sure you have proper file and folder permissions

You must have read\write privileges for the $AVHOME\bin32 (sometimes $AVHOME\bin) directory. When importing a DEM, a temporary grid is created in this location then deleted when DEM import is complete.