Problem: Performance issues with ArcGIS for Desktop 10.x


There are several instances when ArcGIS for Desktop applications demonstrate slow performance; for example when launching ArcMap or ArcCatalog, opening a new map document, initializing ArcPy scripts, exporting maps to PDF files, and such.


A computer’s performance relies on both its hardware and software specifications. If the hardware requirements are sufficient to provide high performance, based on the current software load, there are several other factors that use up the computer’s system resources and cause performance issues.

Therefore, the performance issue could be due to any one of the reasons listed below:

• Numerous applications running in the background or during startup, such as, Symantec AntiVirus, Citrix, Google Chrome and so forth
• Having several settings configured in ArcMap
• User's home directories being redirected in Citrix
• Malware applications present on the computer
• Windows system or the computer's power settings

Solution or Workaround

To optimize the performance of ArcGIS for Desktop and the computer, below are some suggestions.

A. Improving ArcGIS for Desktop performance

• If ArcGIS for Desktop is running in a Citrix XenApp environment, disable the folder redirections at the Windows Server terminal server level to prevent users' home directories from being redirected.

• Create connections to directories containing data on the network at the lowest level possible.

• Check your computer's ability to run ArcGIS: Can You Run It?

• Clear the Display Cache. The display cache facilitates panning and zooming in the existing map but if the cache is retained instead of being cleared from one map to the next there is a big performance hit. In ArcMap, click Customize > ArcMap Options. On the Display Cache tab, click Clear Cache.

ArcMap is programmed to check the validity of all folder connections in the paths in the specific connection. For example, if the desired data is six folders down in the network directory structure, the Add Data dialog box verifies the validity of all six folders before getting down to the directory containing the data the user wants to add to the map.

• Clear out the geoprocessing history by going to Geoprocessing > Geoprocessing Options and under Results Management, change the setting to 'Never Save' or 'Keep results younger than 1 Day'.

If many geoprocessing operations are run from ArcMap, validating the history of these operations for a period of two weeks has a serious impact on the performance.

• Minimize the number of network connections to the server that are saved in an ArcMap document. A huge performance hit occurs if an MXD contains many network connections.

• Whenever possible, set the projection of the ArcMap data frame to the coordinate system of any raster data in the map.

When raster imagery is being projected on the fly, it contributes to slower performance. Vector data projects on the fly much more quickly.

For more information, please refer to the following Knowledge Base article: HowTo: Improve performance working in ArcMap and ArcCatalog.

B. Improving Windows performance

• Download and install the Process Monitor application and run it when trying to add data to ArcMap. This application records every operation performed on the computer, and the amount of time each operation takes. The PML files created by the application contain hundreds of thousands of entries, since it records times of events to the millionth of a second. By analyzing the output users can determine which application on the computer is interfering with the performance of ArcGIS for Desktop. Download and install the application from Windows Sysinternals.

• Download and install the IOzone tool from IZone Filesystem Benchmark. This tool is an open source, widely-used file system benchmark. It evaluates system performance and allows a comparison between network access to data vs. local access.

Running this tool can take many hours depending on the state of the network.

• Whitelist some areas on the computer to relieve some of the repetitious anti-virus scanning.

• Run the Disk Defragmenter utility after running Disk Cleanup, on a regular basis. Reboot afterward.

Do not run the Disk Defragmenter on solid state hard drives.

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