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Error: Failed to add data, unsupported data type. <shapefile>.shp

Error Message

When adding a shapefile to a map in ArcGIS Pro using the Add Data function, the following error message is returned:

Error:   
Failed to add data, unsupported data type. <shapefile>.shp
Sample image of the error message in ArcGIS Pro

Adding the same shapefile in ArcMap returns the following error messages:

Error:   
Error opening feature class.
Error:   
Could not add the specified data object to the map.
Sample image of the first error message in ArcMap
Sample image of the second error message in ArcMap

Cause

This issue occurs if a shapefile is missing the necessary supporting files. As stated in ArcGIS Help: Shapefile file extensions, a shapefile cannot be displayed in any ArcGIS platform without the required supporting files.

For a shapefile to work, the following files must exist in the same folder location:

  • The .shp file, which contains the geometry for the shapefile.
  • The .shx file, which contains the shape index.
  • The .dbf file, which contains the attribute data.
Note:
Many shapefiles also have optional supporting files such as .prj (projection), .xml (metadata), .sbn and .sbx (spatial index), etc.

Solution or Workaround

When copying or moving a shapefile, ensure the required supporting files stated above are copied or moved along with it. It is recommended to copy or move a shapefile using ArcCatalog or a geoprocessing tool. For more information on moving a shapefile using a geoprocessing tool, refer to ArcGIS Help: Geoprocessing considerations for shapefile outputs.

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