A few words about deploying ArcPad onto a Mobile Device that cannot be connected and synchronized with your Desktop machine.

As an ArcGIS Desktop support analyst at Esri Australia, I get a lot questions about deploying software, including questions about ArcGIS Desktop, ArcPad and ArcGIS mobile. From time to time I receive some interesting questions from our clients and some of them are worth to be mentioned in this blog.

One of the most interesting questions that I received recently was: “How to deploy ArcPad to a mobile device, which cannot be connected to my PC/Laptop?”

Well, the standard procedure of installing ArcPad on a Windows Mobile Device presumes that you connect you PDA to your laptop and synchronise it using ActiveSync or Mobile Device Center. Then you can deploy the application using the Deployment Manager Tool. But what if the cable used to connect your device has been lost? Or Bluetooth module is broken?

In this case you can use an SD card (or CF card if your device supports them) and copy the system files across to your mobile device. See the steps below.

Please note, that you have to obtain a laptop or a desktop machine to be able to complete the below steps. Yes, you still need the laptop, as Esri supplies ArcPad as an *.exe file which has to be executed in Windows XP/Vista/7 or 8.

1. Make sure that ArcGIS for Desktop 10 or 10.1 is installed on your laptop/desktop machine and licensed properly.

2. Download and install the latest version of ArcPad. You can download the software for free from the following website: http://www.esri.com/software/arcgis/arcpad/evaluate

This is a full version of ArcPad. Even despite it’s called “Evaluation Edition”, you’re able to use for free but the sessions are limited to 20 minutes. Once you enter the license code, it becomes a full version.

3. In ArcMap navigate to Customize > Extensions and make sure that the ArcPad Data Manager is turned on


After the ArcPad application has been installed, you can navigate to the folder which is used by the software to store cabinet files (*.CAB)

On a 32 bit machine it points to C:\Program Files\ArcGIS\ArcPad10.0\CABs

For a 64bit machine it would be C:\Program Files (x86)\ArcGIS\ArcPad10.0\CABs

Copy the CAB folder to an SD card (if your Windows Mobile operated device supports SD cards; it can also be a Compact Flash Card (CF)).

The following screenshots are captured using the Windows Device Emulator with Windows Mobile 6.5. Unfortunately I have had to use an emulator instead of the real device, as my good friend HPx4700 has died after almost 7 years of service.

I copied the CAB folder to a shared location (imagine it’s your SD card) and navigated to it on my Mobile Device. Start > File Explorer > SD Card

In Windows Mobile navigate to Start > File Explorer > SD Card and the new folder that stores CABs and click on the ArcPad Application.ARM.CAB


You will have to select whether to install the application to the main memory or to the SD card. The lack of available system memory has always been a problem on Windows Mobile devices, so the SD card can be a good choice. However the software developer recommends using the main memory to prevent any possible data losses (that may happen due to the SD card failure).


Hit Install


Hopefully the installation will end up with the following screen


Navigate to Start and scroll the screen until you see the new ArcPad Icon


Tap on that icon and enter the license code when prompted (or keep working within 20 minute evaluation sessions).


Please note that if you decide to work on a mobile device which is completely disconnected from any of your PCs, you will have to copy the data using the SD card every time you need to send it to somebody or get it on your laptop (say, to display in ArcMap).

The above workflow has to be used only when it is not possible to connect your Mobile Device to any of your laptops or desktop machines. Please also note that you will have to run through the installation of other CAB files, as they’re required if you want to get extras for your ArcPad software (e.g. StreetMaps).

The “standard” procedure of deploying ArcPad onto a mobile device is a bit different:

1) Install ArcPad on your laptop

2) Install Microsoft Mobile Device Center (previously it was called ActiveSync on Windows XP): http://support.microsoft.com/kb/931937 . Once this is done, connect and synchronise your mobile device with your laptop.

3) Use the ArcPad Deployment manager to deploy the ArcPad software to your mobile device: http://help.arcgis.com/en/arcpad/10.0/help/index.html#//00s1000000wt000000

4) To check out the data for ArcPad 10 from ArcMap use the ArcPad Data Manager Toolbar: http://help.arcgis.com/en/arcpad/10.0/help/index.html#//00s10000007t000000

Enjoy you field data collection!

This entry was posted in General and tagged , , on by .

About Ivan E.

Russia-born geographer with a degree in Cartography and GIS with a 18-year Esri-related experience. Had been working for Esri Russia (CIS) then moved to Australia to join Esri Australia as support trainer in the Professional services dept. Area of expertise: ArcGIS Desktop software, 3D modelling (CityEngine), cartography, remote sensing

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