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Posted on August 4th, 2015

GTM – ArcGIS Toolbox Errors

Sometimes in life, it is not about the quantity but rather the quality, let’s hope this holds true for this edition of the Geospatial Tip of the Month (GTM) as I have little more to offer than a short story and a rather simple ArcGIS lesson. So without further delay, let’s jump right into the August GTM.

Part of what I do on a regular basis is seek out free software and GIS data sources that would be interesting to report here in our monthly newsletter. And part of this daily hunt entails downloading files, extracting them and installing the new software I find. As you can imagine, this process does not come without risk as every now and then you run across virus, Trojans, etc. etc. that are packed away in these “free files,” just waiting to unleash havoc on your system!

Well, recently, that havoc was unleashed on my system. I will save you the long story of the steps I took to uninstall the viruses and return my system to “normal” as it is not an exciting one. What I will share with you was my experience with ArcMap 10.3 after removing the virus from my system. Initially it seemed as though ArcMap was working just fine as I could load shapefiles and rasters, zoom in and out on the map and pan around. However, when I tried to run the toolbox functions I use daily, such as Project, none of them worked, ugh!

And so began my week-long saga of trying to fix ArcMap. My first idea involved the ArcGIS license server, so I checked out the License Server Administrator. While everything looked like it was running fine, I still stopped, restarted and re-read my licenses; but still no change in ArcMap, the toolboxes were not working.

Here is the warning message I received when I tried to run toolbox functions in ArcMap 10.3 after my system was hijacked by a virus and then restored to ‘normal’.

Next, I moved on to a few days of Google searches (admittedly I was not putting hours a day into this effort, it was as my day permitted), but this was a fruitless avenue as I could not find other Arc users with a problem similar as mine.

My third idea was downloading an update for ArcMap 10.3 as there were a few of them available. I had hoped this would somehow restart/reinstall my licenses as I was still a bit obsessed with the idea that these were at the root of my issues. However, when I tried to install the update, Windows Installer said it could not find the ArcGIS files the update referred to.

On to the nuclear option I was headed, i.e. a complete uninstall and reinstall of ArcGIS. I was not very excited by this idea, but I was also out of ideas, so I downloaded the 10.3 install file from ESRI and started the process. When the ArcGIS Uninstall interface opened from the Windows 7 Control Panel, I noticed an option to Repair the install. You see this option every now and then when you go to uninstall programs in Windows and well, admittedly, I had never tried it out. So I figured, what the heck, let’s give it a go!

After about 5 minutes of waiting for a slew of unknown ArcGIS files to install, the repair process ended. I opened up ArcMap 10.3, loaded a shapefile and tried out the Project toolbox function. And to my shock and enlightenment, it worked!

My problem was solved, woot woot – such a simple solution to a painful software issue. So the lesson here is that often it is the simple solution you overlooked that will work the best – I am just glad ArcMap is up and running smoothly for me again!

A very short YouTube video showing you how to repair your installation of ArcMap on Windows 7 Professional.

Do you have an idea for a future GTM? If so, let me know by email at

Brock Adam McCarty
Map Wizard
(720) 470-7988


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