ArcGIS Desktop Performance

06-26-2015 12:16 PM
Occasional Contributor III

ArcGIS desktop has now become a total behemoth.

I am growing old just watching the spinning blue circle.

I am running ArcGIS Desktop 10.3 on a dual core MacBook Pro with 8G RAM.

I run Parallels to create a windoze virtual machine, which is allocated 4 of those 8 Gigs.

ArcMap takes more than 3 of those windows Gigs, and apparently isn't

satisfied with that.

On startup, it takes several minutes (more than two) even to display the splash

(ie, a new empty! map).

I recently deleted a dataset from a layer (one that was not even used in drawing

the layer), and grew old watching the spinning blue circle. More than a minute.

Maps seem to redraw at the drop of a hat for no apparent reason leading

to delays which can be 3 minutes or more.

Even the python interface takes an eternity. Without even a map to draw

a simple script using ArcPy classes takes upwards of a minute

before it does anything.

In short, the product has become nearly unusable.

I'd like to frame this in the form of a question, but, really,

what question can one ask?? That the product be

engineered to be more efficient?

Rob Stevens

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8 Replies
MVP Esteemed Contributor

Sorry, but those specifications are still pretty slim by today's computing standards especially given that you are running on parallels.  The ridiculously low recommendation of 2 Gig by esri is to get the splash screen running.  With anything else running, it doesn't take long for memory to get used up.  If feel your pain but when it comes to having to work with ArcMap for school or a job, I find more of my students abandoning the laptop route since they can get more power and memory on a desktop.  I would as a minimum upgrade your ram, if possible, to a minimum of 8 Gig dedicated to Arc.  I will leave graphic cards out of the picture for now.  On an associated note I recently upgraded from an 8 Gig desktop to 32 Gig Ram with 4Ghz intel chip 64 bit system and everything starts instantly...with the exception of ArcMap.... it still took 15.5 seconds before the select a project screen began.

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Occasional Contributor III

Hello Dan

I have anticipated the solution in your helpful answer

and have acquired (2 days ago) a 16GB macbook pro with all flash persistent storage.

However, I am not so sure about the processor speed.

I have not yet installed any windows partition either with Bootcamp

or Parallels.

Do you have any metrics and whether ArcGIS is i/o or cpu bound?

I am guessing the former which is what I mainly addressed

acquiring  a new laptop. I am slightly worried about the CP speed

Also it is probably better to run arcgis using Bootcamp

(either with or without Parallels).

Does anyone have any solid data about ArgMap

run in a VM as opposed to a native OS?


Rob Stevens

PS: as, and when I have solid performance data myself

comparing old and new configurations, I will add it

to this thread.

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MVP Esteemed Contributor

Hi Robert,

Although the following link is mentioned for ArcGIS Server, but can be relevant to any application on VM.

Performance Factors for Virtual Systems | ArcGIS Resource Center

In fact, you are working working with heavier data (in ArcGIS desktop) than the lighter services (in ArcGIS Server).

Think Location
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MVP Esteemed Contributor

A nice blog by Lucas D

Troubleshooting Slow Performance in ArcGIS Desktop | Support Services Blog

Maybe this would be helpful

Think Location
Occasional Contributor III

I have a follow up to my original question.

I am now running ArcMap (10.3.1) on Apple's latest and greatest MacBook Pro (Mid 2015 2.8Ghz Intel Cire i7, 16GB 1600Mhz DDR3), but still using Parallels. 8GB of memory are allocated to the Parallels VM (running windows 7).

Frankly, Arcmap still performs poorly, although certainly better than previously.

One thing I have learnt, which may be of benefit to others, is that Arcmap 10.3.1 (and presumably all other Arcmap's) is a 32 bit application and, as such, cannot itself benefit from having more than 4G memory. It is true that if the VM has many other processes running that performance may improve with more memory in those cases where swapping is needed, but it is doubtful whether desktop users are doing much other than running Arcmap. In fact I don't think I have ever seen Arcmap use more than about 2.8G memory.

So, although a higher end machine would help, I still find the performance poor.

I may also say that it doesn't help that the slightest nudge of a magic mouse seemingly provokes Arcmap into redrawing. I'd go so far as to say that one should always halt the redrawing if one is doing anything at all to the table of contents. If one does in fact halt redrawing, the map itself gets blanked out, another undesirable feature of the product.

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MVP Frequent Contributor

Robert Stevens​, *

We'll assume that you actually installed 64-bit Windows 7 for the guest VM 

You might want to poke at ArcGIS Pro (included with your ArcGIS for Desktop 10.3.1 license, but accessed through your ArcGIS Online account).

Fully 64-bit, Python 3.3 based--no it will not (and will  likely never) run natively on OS X--still in its infancy, but it your work flows are supported you can take full advantage of your available memory under a 64-bit guest OS.

The UI is still evolving, and naturally the map configuration files (.MXD / .APR) are not inter-operable, but if it works for you it is the way to go.

Otherwise, many Python based geoprocessing functions can be moved off 32-bit with installation of  the 64-bit background geoprocessing extension.  Also, remember that when running a VM under Parallels, your are emulating a 64-bit Guest OS emulating a 32-bit processor when you run ArcGIS for Desktop -- carving out space for a BootCamp Windows dual boot instance running natively would improve things--and is actually a supported configuration that Esri will support (unlike Parallels or Fusion).

Let us know.


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Occasional Contributor III


Thanks. I have been told the Business Analyst (BA 10.3.1) does not work

with ArcGIS Pro? Is this true AFAYK? I would happily start using

ArcGIS Pro if I was sure that I wouldn't lose data/function.

Actually, I don't need much of the BA software, but I do need the

Network Analyst (NA) software which is bundled (one gets a NA

license with BA), and I do, of course, need the BA datasets

to work. But I do not need the BA wizards. The color coded

maps are handy sometimes in doing something quicker

than one otherwise can, and BA reports can also be useful.

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MVP Frequent Contributor

Correct, the ArcGIS Business Analyst extension does not work with ArcGIS Pro.

However, the Business Analyst Online content does--which your license for BA should give you access.  So again, depending on if your work flow is supported by ArcGIS Pro, and if you have a reasonably good internet connection to access the BAO data (it gets cached locally)--you could have the performance you need with ArcGIS Pro.

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