Best way to share ArcGIS executables and license files

08-27-2018 12:42 PM
Esri Regular Contributor
6 22 8,467

We often get asked “I’d like my students, staff or faculty to use ArcGIS Pro, what is the best way to distribute the download/executable to them”? This applies to any other Esri application that needs to be downloaded and installed, such as CityEngine, ArcGIS Enterprise, ArcMap, etc. There are a few ways to accomplish this, and our recommendation is to use your institutional file share system. In addition, as of the April 2020 release of ArcGIS Online, ArcGIS Pro can now be downloaded directly from ArcGIS Online from a user's Profile page>My Settings>Licenses. This could be an option just for the ArcGIS Pro executable.  

Using your institutional file share system method also applies for distributing licenses/single use provisioning files, however, this depends on the application.

The recommended way of licensing ArcGIS Pro is through a named user account in an ArcGIS Online organization, even in lab environments. 

If you are licensing ArcMap, since named user licensing is not available for ArcMap, please share the same single use license file with everyone (which times out in 1 year), via your institution's shared file system. Please avoid ordering 1-year individual EVA software codes for your students when licensing ArcMap. We are moving away from them. Sharing a single license file is a preferred method and it alleviates administrative hassles. 

  •      Use your institution’s file share system – this could be Box, Google Drive, shared drives, whatever method is typically used to distribute files. Advantages are:
    •      One location for accessing the executables that can be used by everyone in the organization (this makes it easy for ArcGIS administrators, instructors and students).
    •      It can be behind the same single-sign-on (SSO) as your ArcGIS Online organization, LMS or other business systems – makes it easy for students, staff and faculty to simply login with their known enterprise credentials and download.
    •      Potentially faster download speed.


  •      Use My Esri – this could be an involved process if one wants to provide Download access to many students, staff and faculty. We generally discourage it for the reasons below – and of course exceptions apply.
    •      This involves an invitation to My Esri initiated by the administrator.
    •      Depending on whether the My Esri account is already in the system, there may be additional interaction to Request Permission (for Downloads in this case).
    •      There are a couple of notification emails that would go out to students, staff, faculty who are being given those permissions, such as “your permissions request has been received”, or “your request has been approved” notifications.
    •      This can be burdensome for administrators (to have to manage the requests), for instructors (to have to instruct their students where to go to download), and for students (to have to navigate My Esri to get to downloads).
    •      From Administrator standpoint, this does not scale well for increased number of users.


  •      Use trial downloads – we discourage this method, as it has students creating additional accounts that can be confusing with any other My Esri or ArcGIS Online accounts they already have. In addition, the purpose of ArcGIS trials is not meant to be for student use, rather, for Esri customers to evaluate products for purchase. 

Feel free to share feedback.

MVP Esteemed Contributor

We use option 2... My Esri

  1. They need an account if they are continuing in the field anyway
  2. We simply email a class list to the Admin, who batches the emails from there (so simple)
  3. The students get instruction from our Library's website (all uni's/colleges have them)
  4. The faculty provides the links on the learning management software.
  5. They can download the software they need while they are covered as students by the educational license
  6. When they graduate or are otherwise 'terminated' they no longer have access to the software as per license requirements

And the biggie!

  1. If they can't figure out how to create an  account, download their own software and install it by themselves... then …. maybe there is something else that will interest them at school instead
Occasional Contributor III

Option #2 is certainly a starting point, however, as Geri Miller points out in her last bullet in that section, the approach does not scale well in the long-run.

As the number of students and courses using ArcGIS grows, you eventually will be challenged to keep up in an appropriately timely fashion with all the course requests, students dropping and adding courses, etc. Even simple things start to add up when you have to do them over and over... Not to mention all the requests for ArcGIS software and licenses that fall outside of courses!

And, as you point out, option #2 unfortunately has the side-effect of erecting a barrier to people easily adopting GIS technology on campus. It creates a (hopefully!) undesired digital divide.  (Are there institutions out there who still limit the use of Excel to just Business students and courses, or Word to English classes... ;)

Last semester, more than half of the University of Michigan's user-base came from fields outside of the traditional realms of desktop GIS. While most of those are users of Web GIS (e.g., ArcGIS , StoryMaps, GeoPlanner, Collector, Survey123), there are some who end up moving on to Pro, and even some who are jumping straight in with Pro; both for coursework and research.

Option #1 makes it easy for them get started with the software on their own timeline, as they already know how to use our institutional file system.  Option #2 works, however, the sooner you can move on to Option #1, the easier you can make it for members of your institution to leverage ArcGIS, and the less time you'll have to spend on  trivial system administration tasks.
MVP Esteemed Contributor

Peter... interesting points, but we have hundreds now and administration hasn't been a problem (now that distributing CDs is gone ). 

We only have one general intro course... the rest are for those in Geomatics (GIS/RS) programs.  Other programs basically use AGOL and StoryMaps

Esri Frequent Contributor

The University of Denver has implemented Single Sign On and their page below I think is a good example of what Geri is describing:  It is simple, to the point, directs students to a Sharepoint site where they can download executables, the university sets them up as Publishers in their ArcGIS  organizational account, and so on -     

I am on the faculty there and to be perfectly honest with you all, this didn’t happen overnight; they like other campuses faced technical and organizational challenges.  However, it was worth the effort and students and faculty alike are reaping the benefits in time saved and access.  One of the additional benefits that I have noted is that, hinting at what Peter is referring to, because it is now much easier for faculty in multiple departments to access the tools, and the data as well, it is enabling GIS to be spread beyond Geography and Professional Studies (where the lifelong learning GIS program is housed) to health, business, data science, international relations, history, and other programs.

--Joseph Kerski

MVP Esteemed Contributor

We use a shared drive folder "F:\install\ArcGIS" that contains

- readme files with instructions

- extracted desktop software with .bat install scripts that install software (and patches) with a single click. 

The install scripts I have robocopy the folders locally, do the desktop installs, and if successful delete the local folder. (You really don't want the network to go down in the middle of an ArcMap or Pro install!) Most students just run my install script that install ArcMap 10.6.1 and Pro (with patches). Navigate to the folder, double click the .bat, wait for 15 minutes and they are done.

- full ISO packages for those with special needs (64bit arcmap processing, solutions, etc)

I also have workflow scripts to copy the quick install media and scripts to USB sticks. The scripts use relative paths so I can use the USB sticks (with the scripts unmodified) to simultaneously install software on student laptops during our first lab without killing the wifi downloading gigabytes of data to a dozen laptops at once.

I'm a big believer in automated-as-possible install scripts, have been doing this since back in Workstation time (mid Oligocene). Scripts help get everyone on the same page. This is a bit complex for us as we have 10.4-10.6 users (we have engineers running .NET software that requires the old versions for certain applications) so these scripts are a life-saver. The 10x install scripts also set the license server at install time (for desktop lab / faculty machines, students authorize with trial license EVA codes).

I have a page that has information helpful for developing deployment strategies for desktop software.

Enterprise Deployment Resources

And Geri, I finally broke down and we use single sign on to manage our AGOL accounts, with Esri Access enabled for the training site. It is so much easier for the students tot use that one SSO login for all resources. Call me a convert. If students need to have their training transcripts to go with them, Esri Customer Service can help them do that down the road. 

MVP Esteemed Contributor

An update, I have successfully done this with OneDrive. Students can click the link, click sync on the one drive page to sync the shared folder. They then can go into file explorer and install software, data with my scripts with one click.

UPDATE OneDrive synch can be problematic - it can take a long time and students give up. So I have modified this for the fall, the install scripts and instructions are inside a folder which they download from one drive, unzip, and run.

Esri Frequent Contributor

Thanks Curtis for sharing!  --Joseph K

New Contributor

I need some help. First of all I have to say 2 things:

1 - My english is very basic. I am spanish speaker

2 - My knowlegement about ESRI software is more basic even. I am IT support personnel in my university and now is the first time that I have to face with this problem.

I am writing in this post due to some advice of my commercial contact. He told this: 

"You can not provide more EVA licenses for the students to use ArcMap from the 10.8 version on". 

Until now the process in my university to get the studes use ArcMap was summarized this:

1 - They have to create an Esri  account

2 - They have to get an EVA license provided by us (IT support)

3 - They have to download ArcMap software using their account and EVA license

4 - They install and activate the software using heir account and EVA license

If now we can not provide more license we have some questions:

1 - How the students can get the software ArcMap 10.8?

2 - How can they activate it?

3 - In the main post form Geri Miller‌ she said " ...Sharing a single license file ..." How can we get and provide to the students this single license file?

As you can see I am a really rookie about this.

Thanks for your patient with me

Esri Regular Contributor

Ángel Sánchez de la Cruz‌ What university and what country are you from? I will ask the Esri distributor to contact you directly with further guidance. 

In essence:

- We do encourage transitioning teaching materials to ArcGIS Pro (from ArcMap). Licensing with ArcGIS Pro is much easier with named user model (i.e. thru ArcGIS Online). 

- Even if ArcMap is used, we do recommend that the executable/install file, as well as a Single Use authorization file is downloaded from My Esri - . 

- Once the two (executable and authorization file) are downloaded from My Esri, they can be shared with students, faculty and staff (same file can be reused).

Do you have access to My Esri for your university? If not, your ArcGIS license administrator should help with this. 

New Contributor

Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (Spain)

New Contributor

As you can see I have access as administrator of my university. I did not remember it. Thanks

New Contributor

Hello again. I have downloaded the software but I don´t see whre can I get the Single Use authorization file that you told me. Could you help me? In what option o MyEsri. com can I  get it? Thank you

MVP Esteemed Contributor

My Esri has a FAQ page that may help:   If that does not help, you should contact your Esri customer service account people, these should be listed under Informacion general (top left in your screen shot  -- this is called "Overview" in English). 

New Contributor III

Ángel Sánchez de la Cruz‌, if you click on Licencias, you should be able to build (Obtener licencias de productos ArcGIS Comenzar, blue button on the left) you Licence file (something previously called provisioning), that you can provide to students.

New Contributor

For ArcGIS Pro, we create AGOL organisation accounts for students/staff (either individually, or in bulk if we get whole class lists at once) and then have a tutorial video that they can also access to see how to find, download and install the software. Looking in the next few years to integrate our institutions SSO system to simplify even further, and also increase outreach? If we were teaching face-to-face in specialist computer labs on campus, students would sign-in with their accounts to access resources, but the licencing would continue to be run off a concurrent use licence file on server for these on-campus machines. Students with installations on personal devices use named-user method to access both resources and as licence. Our experience is that student's forget to log out of on-campus machines (no matter how explicit it is in Lab Manuals etc.), which can create extra work searching and removing these sessions. 

For ArcGIS Desktop, we still just operate Trial Licence EVA codes for staff/students that wish to use ArcMap. We as administrators at our institution are actively trying to discourage ArcGIS Desktop use and encourage conversion to ArcGIS Pro wherever possible, simply for easier administration. However, some courses/research uses require Desktop due to specialist add-ins/toolbars etc., some of which have no standalone/alternative options.

We have a system of a shared spreadsheet with EVA licence codes (amongst handful of administrators only) which can be accessed and distributed along with standard instructions and downloadable executables housed on University cloud storage. We also developed a system to distribute licence codes to students via our institutions VLE (in our case Moodle) using a "fake assignment", within which no submission from students is required but they receive "feedback" on the assignment which is their code. 

Esri Regular Contributor

@Craig MacDonell

Please note that we will be retiring EVA codes, as described here. Instead, for ArcMap, we encourage you to use institutional file share and share the same single license file with everyone. 

New Contributor

@GeriMiller is there any contingency built into this new suggested way of working to allow for offline use (e.g. on heavy duty field laptops in the middle of nowhere with no cell coverage), especially given ArcGIS Pro's suggested offline settings are similar? Also, what if there is system interruption on the institutional file share? 

Esri Regular Contributor

@CraigMacDonell Great question. In this instance (i.e. you know you, or your colleagues will be going out in the field with no connectivity), we recommend just using Single Use license file for ArcGIS Pro, and not take ArcGIS Pro offline option that is available by default in ArcGIS Online. I.e. if you know you are heading in the field, simply download/use Single Use file before you head out, in case institutional file share cannot be accessed either. 

New Contributor III

Chiming in here because I just went through the process of obtaining a single use license file for ArcGIS Pro (for a Faculty member who goes 'offline' often.)

Process was rather simple, as is opening up ArcGIS Pro and switching to the single use authorization.

We are still distributing EVA licenses, but will retire that practice when they run out.

From where would I obtain the institutional executable/install file (from Esri) specifically, in preparation for this change.


Esri Regular Contributor

@GregoryLund2 great to hear all, Gregory, and you would obtain the executables/install files, along with the Single Use code to distribute, from My Esri. 

New Contributor III

Hello Geri (

Regarding: "If you are licensing ArcMap, since named user licensing is not available for ArcMap, please share the same single use license file with everyone (which times out in 1 year), via your institution's shared file system. Please avoid ordering 1-year individual EVA software codes for your students when licensing ArcMap. We are moving away from them. Sharing a single license file is a preferred method and it alleviates administrative hassles. "

Aside from the answer... 'My Esri', where do I obtain the 'same single use license file' that times out in a year?

And, for those students that take more than a year's worth of courses from us, would I merely provide them with the same license file or a different license file when the first one times out?

I ran into a situation today (1st time in 10 years) that I could not get an EVA code (that was activated), to license the students 10.8.1 software. She had .Net 3.5, Internet Explorer, etc.

The EVA that didn't work, worked on my 'test' computer, thus it wasn't a code.

But, back to the most important item... Aside from the answer... 'My Esri', where do I obtain the 'same single use license file' that times out in a year?


Thanks in advance.


Esri Contributor

Hi @GregoryLund2 .

To create the single use license file for ArcMap, you will login to MyEsri, and click the Licensing tab.  That tab will display the License Esri Products button in the left sidebar:


When you click the button, it will start a wizard that guides you through the license file creation process.  For your ArcGIS Desktop (ArcMap) single use license file, make sure to select "Core products and extensions".  All of the ArcMap extensions except for LocateXT and Business Analyst are bundled into the license file by default, but you will be able to add these two discretely later in the wizard.  At the end of the process, you will be given the ability to download the new file, and then you can share it with students through a file share, as Geri suggested in her post.

This license file will time out at the end of your license agreement term, so when your agreement is renewed, you will create a new one and ask students to use that one instead.

We are planning to create some very short videos for MyEsri tasks like this.  They should be release soon.