Skip to Main Content

You are here:

Using Esri ArcGIS Desktop Software in the Student and Virtual Labs

How to access the CSBS Virtual Lab (skip if using a computer in a CSBS student lab):

Folder Redirection:

On computers in any of the CSBS Computer Labs, and in applications loaded from the CSBS Virtual Lab, you will find the folder ‘Documents’ (or ‘My Documents’ in some cases) has been redirected to your network storage as the N:\Documents folder. Likewise your ‘Downloads’ folder has been redirected to your N:\Downloads folder. 


ArcGIS Desktop incompatible with folder redirection:

ArcGIS Desktop performs very poorly with folder redirection in place. This is because ArcGIS Desktop places its default geodatabase and temporary working files within your ‘Documents’ folder. Changing the location of the default geodatabase and temporary working files to a non-network directory will improve launch times and performance.

The following instructions show you how to set your working environment to the proper application server drive.

Setting the correct working environment:

The following summary steps are required in order to initially set your ArcGIS working environment (steps described in detail further below):

  1. In ArcMap set your default geodatabase location to C:\users\unid\ArcGIS\default.gdb where unid is your campus UNID (e.g. C:\users\u0111202\ArcGIS\default.gdb):
    1. First create the ArcGIS folder within the C:\users\unid to store all of your data and projects (MXDs)
    2. Next, create a new geodatabase within the ArcGIS folder
    3. Finally, set the new geodatabase as your default
  2. In ArcCatalog change your home folder path to C:\users\unid\ArcGIS


Step 1:

Once logged in to the computer, load the current version of ArcMap from the Geography folder. When ArcMap is loaded, you will need to change the default Home working environment to the application server drive. The quickest way to change the path to the default geodatabase is in the Getting Started dialog box that appears when you start ArcMap. In the lower section of this dialogue box is the option to change the default geodatabase for this map:


Select Connect to Folder:


Select Make New Folder:


Name the folder ArcGIS, be sure to select the new folder (you may need to click another folder and then back on the ArcGIS folder) so that it appears in the Folder box:


Create a new Geodatabase within this folder using the option in the upper right section of this window. Select this new geodatabase as your “Default Geodatabase”:




Step 2:

Then to make sure the working folder is set properly, utilize the ArcCatalog panel within ArcMap. Expand the Catalog tab on the right hand side of the screen to view all options and the available working locations. If the Catalog panel is not available, turn it on through the Standard toolbar.


From the ArcCatalog right panel menu, you will need to select the Options menu in the upper right.


Navigate to the Home Folder tab and update the “Home Folder Path” to be C:\Users\unid\ArcGIS



Next time you launch ArcGIS, if you open Catalog you should see the Location as “Home – UNID\ArcGIS”


Note: If issues arise with any of the steps to set your default environment, the default working folder can be changed through opening the Environments… menu from the Geoprocessing drop down menu in ArcMap.


A restart of ArcMap may be necessary in order for the path to properly change and update the Home Folder to create a geodatabase and toolbox.

Saving Project MXD Files:

Best performance will be achieved if the project files (*.MXD) are also saved on the application server drive. Save all project files to C:\users\unid\ArcGIS

Reporting Issues:

If any technical or computer resource based issues occur when utilizing the Virtual Lab software with any of the Esri ArcGIS Desktop software, CSBS Computing can be contacted via an online form. To begin the process, navigate to . From here, log in with you UNID and select New Case. The following page allows for a form to be filled out pertaining to the issues needing resolved. Fill out all necessary fields and select either a Priority based on the urgency of the problem needing resolved. Do not use the Critical priority as this is reserved for extreme cases that will not be utilized within the course.p

Once a helpdesk request has been submitted, CSBS will contact you at the provided email with further clarification on solving the issue. Additionally, they may require auxiliary information to solve the issue so be sure to take sufficient notes such as error codes or any additional processing being ran at the time of error.

Note:  The only way that CSBS Computing can improve the performance of the software or virtual environment is if they know about issues that are occurring. It is very important to submit helpdesk requests in order to ensure that CSBS Computing is aware of any issues.  Do not rely on others to pass on information for you.

Last Updated: 6/19/18