GIS Tips & Tricks

A weblog dedictated to the lifelong pursuit of cartographic bliss in GIS.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Fixing Broken Data Links in ArcGIS 9

Don’t you hate it when you open an existing MXD file in ArcMAP and those red exclamation marks next to your data layers indicate you have broken data links.

Of course you can always update the data source links individually: Right click on the layer> Properties> Source > Set Data Source…

But if there are a wack of broken data links the above method can be extremely tedious. What if a bunch of GIS data has been moved during some crazy corporate data reorganization? Fortunately, since ArGIS 9, the wise minds at ESRI have made it possible to fully fix broken data links outside ArcMAP in the ArcCatalog environment.

Here’s how:

1) Fire up ArcCatalog
2) Navigate to your .MXD file
3) Right click on the .MXD
4) Select Set Data Sources…

The Set Data Sources window will pop up allowing you to change data sources individually under >New Data Source > Or you can > Select All and change the data sources using a Find and Replace method similar to what you would find in MS Word, Notepad etc… Thank goodness for ArcGIS 9.


  • At 6:15 PM, Blogger Mapguy said…

    I wish I'd had this function ages ago.

    Thanks for the tips!

  • At 7:52 AM, Anonymous AGonTop said…

    Hi great feature! But instead of displaying all layers I only get a selection of Layer? Any Ideas?

  • At 7:06 PM, Anonymous Jason said…

    You just saved me a lot of work. Thanks.

  • At 11:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Funny how this is hard to find on the ESRI sie, but I guess that should be no surprise.


  • At 4:17 AM, Blogger renato said…

    I patiently tred to use this several times and wasted my time trying to make the tool fix my broken links. It will not work for a complex MXD with group and sub group layers. I ended up fixing my broken links one layer at a time. I was doing this for a database server change.

  • At 4:20 AM, Anonymous Lasse said…

    Ok, I'm commenting a really old post, but has anyone found a way to make this thingumajig work on UNC paths as well? It pretends to do it, but doesn't save the result. I have tried in both ArcMap 9.2 and 9.3.1

  • At 5:08 PM, Anonymous Andrew said…

    I've had the broken link problem pop up in a few of my projects lately on a consistent basis. I haven't changed any file paths or anything but receive the broken link exclamation marks each time I open and reopen an old project despite setting the data source and saving it each time. Any suggestions or advice? Thanks!

  • At 12:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Perfect - just what I was looking for.

  • At 11:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    A very late Thank you " after 8 years" but you are a life saver, even Esri Docs Dose not mention such a trick


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