Data Management

ArcGIS Pro Tips: 5 Tips For Fixing Broken Data Links

When you add a map, scene, or layer to your ArcGIS project, you want to be able to get to work right away. Usually, you can do just that. However, sometimes reality isn’t quite so smooth. One small speedbump that might stand in your way is the little red exclamation points (!) next to your layers that mean you’ve got some work to do before you actually get to do your work.

When you open a map or scene, ArcGIS Pro looks for the data referenced by each of the layers in the open map. When a data source cannot be found for a particular layer, that layer doesn’t draw. It only takes one glance at the Contents pane, and you’ll see those red exclamation points next to the layer that indicate a broken source.

Contents pane in ArcGIS Pro with broken links.
The red exclamation points next to each layer indicate that the link to the data source is broken.

The data source can be broken if its references have been moved, renamed, or deleted, or they’re inaccessible for some other reason, such as folder permissions. For example, if a geodatabase has been moved or renamed, all the layers that rely on data in that geodatabase will have broken source indicators (the red exclamation points).

So, how do you get your layers to appear correctly and your Contents pane back to its beautiful, error-free state?

Here are some tips for working with broken links:

  1. You can quickly filter the Contents pane to show only the layers with broken data source links by clicking the Filter icon and click Broken data link.Click filter and click Broken data link.
  2. If you don’t need to work with the layer, you can do nothing and continue to work with the map as-is, or remove it by right-clicking and clicking Remove.Right click to remove layer.
  3. If the layer is a web layer, remove the broken web layer and add the replacement web layer to your map or scene.
  4. If you only want to repair a link for one layer, you can change the data source property by right-clicking a layer and clicking Properties. On the Properties dialog box, click the Source tab and click Change data source to browse to the correct source. Click Change source to browse to the correct data source.
  5. If you have several layers that reference the same data source, that need to be fixed, you can repair the links one time in the Contents pane and ArcGIS Pro automatically repairs other broken layers. For example, if you have several feature classes stored in the same geodatabase, and the geodatabase has been renamed. Click the red exclamation point next to the layer to open the Change Data Source dialog box and browse to the correct source.

    Click the red exclamation point to change the data source. This will update the data source for all layers referencing the same broken source.

Although the red exclamation points can initially be disheartening to see, it’s pretty easy to fix broken data links in ArcGIS Pro.

If you liked this blog, check out these other ArcGIS Pro tips:

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