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About server directories

A server directory represents a physical directory on the network that is specially designated for an ArcGIS Server site to store and write certain kinds of information. There are four types of server directories: cache, jobs, output, and system.

  • Cache directories store caches of prerendered tiles that map or globe services can use for faster display. You can configure the cache on the Caching tab of the Service Editor in ArcGIS for Desktop. Once the service is published, you'll use the system tools included with ArcGIS Server to build the cache. Cached services often require large amounts of storage on disk, so ensure your cache directories are adequately proportioned to handle the tiles created during the caching process.

  • Jobs directories store files needed by geoprocessing services. Often, geoprocessing services require a space to write temporary files and store information about ongoing jobs and job results. These items are stored in the jobs directory.

  • Output directories are for temporary files needed by the server. Output directories are required for geoprocessing services; recommended for geodata services; and optional for map, globe, and image services. When you publish a service or edit its properties in Manager, you can choose which server output directory it will use.

  • The system directory is used to manage information necessary for maintaining services, GIS servers, and database connections, as well as storing files uploaded to the ArcGIS Server site. Do not manually modify or delete files in this directory. There can only be one instance of this directory within the ArcGIS Server site.

Permissions and visibility of server directories

When you create an ArcGIS Server site in Manager, the server directories are created on your GIS server and the ArcGIS Server account is granted read and write access to these directories. By default, the server directories are installed at <ArcGIS Server installation drive>\arcgisserver\directories. You can manage your server directories in Manager by navigating to Site > GIS Server > Directories.

When configuring a multiple-machine site

If you are configuring a multiple-machine site, you must configure the server directories to use UNC paths before you add GIS servers to your site. See the topic Configuring a multiple-machine deployment for more information about setting share and file permissions on your server directories.


Shared network directories that are hidden or use special characters (for example, $) are not supported by ArcGIS Server.

When expanding from a one-machine site to a multiple-machine site

If you are expanding your site from one GIS server to multiple GIS servers, you'll need to use your operating system tools to share the folders containing your directories and ensure that the ArcGIS Server account has permissions to read and write to these shared folders. For full instructions, see the topic Expanding from one GIS server to multiple GIS servers.


Shared network directories that are hidden or use special characters (for example, $) are not supported by ArcGIS Server.

Server directory cleaning

ArcGIS Server periodically deletes (or "cleans") old unneeded files from the jobs, output, and system directories to prevent them from taking more disk space than necessary. The cache directories are not cleaned because their contents are expected to be always available.

How the server cleans directories

When ArcGIS Server attempts to clean a file in a server directory, it checks to see if the time elapsed since the file was last modified is greater than the specified maximum file age. If the file meets this criteria, it is removed and the server moves on to the next file in the directory. If the file fails to meet this criteria, it is retained in the directory.

By default, the server jobs, output, and system directories are specified to be cleaned using the following criteria:

DirectoryCleanup modeMaximum file age


Time since last modified

360 minutes (6 hours)


Time since last modified

10 minutes


Time since last modified

1,440 minutes (24 hours)

For example, if a file in the output directory has not been modified within ten minutes of being created, the cleanup mechanism will delete the file since it has surpassed the maximum allowed file age. You can adjust the cleanup mode and maximum file age to match the specific needs of your site.


In 10.0 and earlier versions, you could configure the server to delete files at regular intervals based on either the age of the file or when the file was last accessed by a client. In 10.1 and later releases, the server only deletes files if they have not been modified within the specified maximum file age.

In addition to the cleanup mode and maximum file age, the jobs, output, and system directories have their own set of cleaning rules. For example:

  • When a jobs directory is cleaned, ArcGIS Server only deletes the job if it has completed, been canceled, or failed.
  • When an output directory is cleaned, ArcGIS Server only deletes files and folders if the file or folder name begins with _ags.
  • When the system directory is cleaned, ArcGIS Server only deletes uploaded items if they have been completely uploaded to the server.

Adjusting or disabling directory cleaning

You can adjust or disable server directory cleaning for the jobs, output, and system directories using ArcGIS Server Manager or ArcGIS for Desktop. For full instructions, see the following:

Accessing server directories through a virtual path, or URL

ArcGIS Server allows you to access items from your server directories using virtual paths, or URLs.


In 10.0 and earlier versions, if you wanted to expose a server directory through a URL, you had to create a virtual directory on your web server and associate that virtual directory with your server directory. This workflow is no longer necessary beginning at 10.1. Once you create a server directory, it is automatically exposed through a URL.

The URL of the directory takes the form<directory name>.

For example, if you have an output image at the location c:\arcgisserver\directories\arcgisoutput\_ags_map00c6dac961024efeb14067f990a38d5f.png, it is available through the following URL:

You can click the Directories tab in Manager for more information about the URLs of each of your server directories.


Using the ArcGIS Web Adaptor, you can tailor the above URL to remove the need for port 6080 or arcgis.