The Tortoise and the Hare

Blog Post created by geonetadmin on Oct 16, 2009


We’ve all been there. It’s Monday morning and squinting through the haze of the past weekend, you boot up your computer and double-click the ArcMap icon, so you can finish up Joe Somebody’s latest über urgent request: something involving lots of acronyms and possibly underground electrical lines. As the familiar blue and white splash-screen pops up, you head out to get the first of several cups of what you were told was coffee. Trudging back to your desk, you see the same splash-screen that was there when you left. So you sit…and wait…and wait…eyes glazing over. You’re jolted from your semi-comatose state by the sound of your neighbor already starting his work. As the tears of frustration start to well, you mumble to yourself, “15 seconds…It took him only 15 seconds to start ArcMap. We have the same computer...”.


Hey everyone, I’m Todd, one of the Desktop Analysts here in the Eastern Support Unit. We here in Support Services see this kind of thing all too often: ArcMap running side-by-side on two computers that, to the best of the owner’s knowledge, appear to have the same configurations. One computer opens MXDs and performs various geoprocessing tasks like clockwork, but the other, using the same data, spits out errors, hangs, and/or eventually crashes. There are some obvious red flags to check for first, such as corrupt normal templates, user profiles, and registry keys, but what happens when the issue is not so apparent? A powerful, easy to use tool to help us debug these types of situations is PC audit and reporting software. There are numerous free PC audit and reporting products available, such as PC Discovery Audit, Look in my PC, etc. ESRI does not endorse any of these products, but one of the more popular tools that analysts have reported success with is Belarc Advisor. PC audit and reporting software creates a very detailed configuration profile of the problem computer and includes such information as installed software and hardware, CIS (Center for Internet Security) benchmarks, anti-virus status, and missing Microsoft hotfixes. This profile is saved as a local HTML file on the user’s computer, which can be emailed to ESRI for further analysis.

By comparing the profile of the problem computer against a second profile generated for a working computer, underlying issues due to slight differences in configurations, network connections, memory allocations, and software installations can be pinpointed much more efficiently, thereby getting the problem solved quicker.

-Todd S., Senior Support Analyst - Desktop Group, ESRI Support Services, Charlotte, NC