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Can the performance of data over a file server or network, such as shapefiles, feature classes, etc., be improved?
Using data over a file server, such as editing, panning and zooming, and general usage of data or maps can perform slower than data that is stored locally.
This can be due to many factors. The main one is how the system environment handles data transfer. If poor performance is experienced over a network, it is advisable for IT staff and network administrators to review the concepts and best practices in System Design Strategies, on Wiki.GIS.com.
Specifically, the chapter on Network Communications is most beneficial in understanding performance of GIS systems.
ArcMap is designed to work best in most environments but every system is unique and this article can help in designing and tuning a system to work best with distributed GIS operations.