Recently I was working with data driven pages and I had 89 maps to export; each map was taking nearly 9hrs! This meant I had to run one computer for 801hrs (or 33.375 days!!); thankfully I have access to multiple computers to run through the night.
I had tried many things to decrease this time including:
- Removing and decreasing the number of layers with transparencies
- Moving the data and mxd to my local drive
- Checking that all the layers were working properly (mainly if you have edited/moved/projected etc.)
- Running the MXD Doctor
Finally I decided to run a methodical test. I turned one additional layer on at a time and exported the map to see which layer(s) were causing problems. The results were clear and surprising; a simple and small point layer and polygon layer were causing all the problems. Comparing the two I realized they only had one thing in common, they were both symbolized with imagery. By changing the symbology of these two layers my maps were exporting in just under 2mins! that’s a 270% decrease in exporting time!! (Please note that one of the issues was ESRI provided wetland symbolgy which I have used elsewhere without issue).
The take away message from this is to never except a problem but rather start at the beginning and methodically check everything; and that it’s not always the data that’s the problem.