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An overview of spatial indexes in the geodatabase

Release 9.2
Last modified May 14, 2008
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ArcGIS uses spatial indexes to quickly locate features in feature classes. Identifying a feature, selecting features by pointing or dragging a box, and panning and zooming all require ArcMap to use the spatial index to locate features.

Feature classes in a geodatabase use a system of grids as the spatial index. When you create an empty feature class in ArcCatalog or import data to create a new feature class, you can choose a default grid size or specify your own. If you are unfamiliar with creating spatial index grids, use the default value provided; creating a poorly defined grid will increase the time needed to complete a spatial search.

A feature class in a personal geodatabase can have just one grid. Once a feature class is created in a personal geodatabase, you cannot modify the grid size.

A feature class in a file or ArcSDE geodatabase can have up to three grids. The additional grids allow feature classes with features of very different sizes to be queried faster. The size of each grid in a file or ArcSDE geodatabase feature class must be at least three times the previous grid size. However, for most feature classes only a single grid size is required. You can modify the grid size at any time.

Learn about tuning the spatial index for an ArcSDE Enterprise geodatabase

ArcMap doesn't use spatial index grid sizes in Oracle Spatial or Informix ArcSDE geodatabases. As other strategies are used to locate features in these geodatabases, you can ignore grid sizes.

For more information on spatial indexes in file, personal, and ArcSDE geodatabases, see Setting spatial indexes.

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