Converting an ArcGIS 10 GDB to ArcGIS 9.3 or earlier

I was just asked by a client how to convert a newly created GDB in ArcGIS 10 to one that could be read by ArcGIS 9.3. Before 10, I would normally do this by moving everything to a personal GDB and editing the GDB_ReleaseInfo table to have the values the older versions expected to see. This always worked great as long as your GDB was fairly simple without a lot of higher end features such as geometric networks or parcel fabrics.

ArcGIS 10 however has completely revamped the personal Geodatabase schema so the GDB_ReleaseInfo table does not exist and I have not been able to find a table that contains similar information. So this method will no longer work for converting back to older versions. ESRI recommends if you want to convert to an older version, you should create a new GDB using an older version of the software. Then copy and paste the data from the ArcGIS 10 GDB to the newly created older version GDB from an ArcGIS 10 install. This is great if you have a computer installed with the older version but what do you do if you don’t.

One option I found is to create layer packages. When creating a layer package it has the option to create one that is compatible with older versions of ArcGIS. Here is a link to the online help with more information. If anyone else has ideas or methods they use I would be interested in hearing them.

Tripp Corbin, MCP, CFM, GISP
Vice President, GIS/IT
ESRI Authorized Instructor
CompTIA Certified Technical Trainer
Keck & Wood, Inc.
(678) 417-4013
(678) 417-4055 fax

Leave a comment


  1. sp

     /  March 30, 2011

    Thanks a ton! It worked very well for me. First it displayed the shapefile as a table but when I added to ArcMap it was a shapefile.

  2. I’ve dug around a bit too and this is the only way I’ve found to convert a GIS 10 File Geodatabase back to 9.3 format.

    Its quite a few steps just to do something that should probably be a simple right click of the mouse to do!

  3. Has anyone tested the Toolbox in ArcCatalog – “Data Management Tools” – “Workspace”?

    Using ArcGIS 10, there is an option to create a GDB and choose which version GDB you would like: 10, 9.3, 9.2, etc.

    Brent Kastor, GISP
    GIS Administrator
    RS&H, Inc.

    • As a matter of fact I have. Used them this morning to create a 9.3 GDB. No problems.

      • EG

         /  July 18, 2011

        Works fine, indeed !

        You simply have to create a new empty gdb in 9.3 format, and then copy and paste the object classes from the ArcGIS 10 gdb to this new ArcGIS 9.3 gdb.

  4. EG

     /  July 18, 2011

    Works fine, indeed !

    You simply have to create a new empty gdb in 9.3 format, and the copy and paste the object classes from the ArcGIS 10 gdb to this new ArcGIS 9.3 gdb.

  5. Peter Veenstra

     /  March 28, 2012

    This does work (using Python to create the 9.3 geodatabase). But how do you script the copy? Copy and paste is nice but you can’t do that if you try to batch this process. The copy_management command insists on creating a new output personal geodatabase and guess what? It doesn’t allow you to choose the new format for the output workspalce.


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