Table of contents:


ArcCatalog is like the ‘Windows Explorer’ of the ArcGIS software suite. Having a data management software specifically designed for spatial data allows us to see spatial data a single files instead of the several part they are made up of. ArcCatalog recognizes these individual files as all being part of a single file, thus displays it that way.

When we look at spatial files in Windows Explorer, we see examples like the following screenshots

Geodatabases in Windows Explorer
Shapefiles in Windows Explorer

Using Windows Explorer to copy/move/delete geodatabase files or shapefiles can lead to mistakes if one fails to copy all of the files associated with a spatial file. Thus, a ‘good practices’ habit to get into is using Windows Explorer when zipping or moving entire folders of spatial data, and using ArcCatalog for moving everything below the folder level.