Error: Failed to connect to database. Network I/O Error

Error Message

Windows authenticated users are required to have the necessary folder level permissions to start the gsrvr process on the ArcSDE server. This is required to establish a connection to the database in ArcCatalog and other client applications. These permissions allow access to a specific folder within the server file system that is required to startup the gsrvr.exe process under the Windows login account.

These explicit permissions may not be required if the folders are already accessible and there are no problems establishing database connections.

Attempting to connect from a client machine in ArcCatalog to the ArcSDE server without permissions to the %SDEHOME% folder results in the following error message:

"Failed to connect to database.
Network I/O error."

SQL authenticated users can still connect using 3 tier/application server connections, because the gsrvr process is started by the local SYSTEM account on the server using this type of login.
These Windows users have already been added in as SQL server logins and have been given database access, either individually or by means of a Windows group that they are a member of.


Attempting to connect from a client machine in ArcCatalog to the ArcSDE server without permissions to the %SDEHOME%\sqlexe folder results in the error.

Solution or Workaround

With Windows authentication, the actual user from the client machine spawns the gsrvr on the ArcSDE server. To do this, the individual Windows login or the group they are a member of must be granted adequate permissions on the SQLEXE folder for the %SDEHOME% location on the server.

To give the particular Windows users/groups the necessary permissions on the server, an administrative user must grant read and execute permissions to the SQLEXE (%SDEHOME%\sqlexe) folder.

  1. Open Windows Explorer and navigate to the %SDEHOME% folder. Right-click on this 'SQLEXE' folder and select 'Properties'.

    sqlexe properties
  2. Under the 'Security' tab select 'Add'. Type the name of the Windows user/group receiving permissions within this folder. On the bottom half of the sqlexe properties window, there is a series of check boxes for the amount of permissions the administrator wishes to grant to this user/group.
    Below illustrates where to 'Add' users/groups and the permissions needed.

    Now, Windows users should be able to use the correct connection parameters to successfully establish a connection to the database.
    'Read and execute' are the minimum requirement for Windows authenticated users to be able to connect to the ArcSDE server, and spawn a gsrvr process under their Windows' login account.

Last Published: 5/5/2016

Article ID: 000008064