License a file geodatabase

Available with Standard or Advanced license.

You can share data in a file geodatabase with other people and apply a license that determines the length of time they can use the data and whether they can export feature classes from the geodatabase.

For example, if you are a professor and want to provide data to your students for one semester, you can give the students a file geodatabase that contains data that is licensed to expire at the end of the semester. Or, if you hire a contractor to analyze a set of data but you don't want the contractor to export the data, you can provide the contractor with a file geodatabase that is licensed to not allow data exports.

Follow these steps to create a licensed file geodatabase, generate a license, and apply the license to an ArcGIS client to access the licensed data:

  1. Create a file geodatabase.
  2. Load the data you want to restrict using a license.
  3. Designate the file geodatabase as licensed and generate a license definition file.
  4. Generate a license file that people will use to access the licensed data.
  5. Apply the license file to an ArcGIS client to allow access to the data.

Create a file geodatabase

You will be sending the file geodatabase to someone else, so create one specifically for this purpose. See Create a file geodatabase if you need instructions.

ArcGIS Pro can license ArcGIS 10 or later uncompressed file geodatabases or ArcGIS 10.1 compressed geodatabases.

Load restricted-use data

Load all the data to the file geodatabase to which you want to apply time or export restrictions before you license the geodatabase. You can add more data later, but restrictions will not apply to the data that you load after licensing the file geodatabase. To apply restrictions to more data later, you must license a new file geodatabase.

License the file geodatabase

Run the Generate Licensed File Geodatabase tool or a Python script that calls the tool to license the file geodatabase you created and populated with data.

The Generate Licensed File Geodatabase tool modifies the file geodatabase to support data licensing and creates a license definition file (*.licdef). The license definition file includes the information required to license data for distribution. You need this file to generate a license file.

Once licensed, the file geodatabase cannot be unlicensed.

Generate a license file

Use the Generate File Geodatabase License tool or a Python script that calls the tool to define and generate a license file (.sdlic).

When defining the license file, you have the option to allow people to export the feature classes from the file geodatabase. By default, feature classes cannot be exported from a licensed file geodatabase. When defining the license file, you also have the option to set an expiration date for the license file. After the expiration date passes, the file geodatabase's contents can no longer be displayed. This allows a set term for a licensed geodatabase. For example, if you choose to have access expire on April 7, starting on April 8, the licensed data cannot be accessed. By default, no expiration date value is set, which means the data license file never expires.


The interface uses a standard date and time tool to define expiration. Even though this tool allows you to define an expiration time, that time is not honored by the system. Data licenses always expire at midnight.

Once you generate the license file (.sdlic), any additional data you load into the file geodatabase will not be licensed. Therefore, to share other data that does not need to be licensed, you can add it now.

Apply the license to each ArcGIS client

Anyone who needs access to the data must configure their ArcGIS clients to recognize the license file.

Apply a license to ArcGIS Pro

Use the Manage Data Licenses dialog box in the Licensing section on the Project tab to apply and manage file geodatabase licenses. See Manage file geodatabase data licenses for more information.

Apply a license to ArcGIS Server

ArcGIS Server includes a licensing tool that allows you to register file geodatabase licenses with your ArcGIS Server site.

On a Microsoft Windows server

Open a command prompt and run the DataLicInstall tool, located in <ArcGIS Server Installation Directory>\Server\bin.

In the following example, the tool is run to apply the proj3.sdlic file found in C:\\data.

datalicinstall c:\\data\proj3.sdlic

On a Linux server

Open a shell command and run the datalicinstall tool, located in <ArcGIS Server Installation Directory>/arcgis/server/tools.

In the following example, the tool is run to apply the proj3.sdlic file found in /usr/data.