Admin Tools for ArcGIS: Copying vs Cloning — Which is right for you?

As of May 2022, Admin Tools 2.0 no longer supports the cloning operation. Backup My Org is now the recommended product to handle the migration of items, users, and groups from one organization to another.

Sometimes you need a fork and sometimes you need a spoon. The existence of one doesn’t necessarily negate the use for the other. It’s important to know what tools you need when you’re ready to get started. Same with Admin Tools for ArcGIS, which provides a copy tool, as well as a cloning workflow (in addition to all the other great tools in the application for your items, users, and groups).

But which one should you be using? As with the spoon and fork metaphor, it depends on what you’re trying to accomplish.

The Copy Tool
The copy tool is available to all users of Admin Tools for ArcGIS, (Basic, Pro, or Portal). What this tool does, is create a new item, but as a pointer to an existing source, and adds it to another user within the same Org. This is great for when you want to share an item with others who need access to the same content, or are sharing work on the same project.

The Cloning Workflow
This workflow is available in the Pro and Portal versions of Admin Tools for ArcGIS. This is our recommended solution for creating brand new duplicates of content internally, moving ArcGIS content to a partner or replacement organization, or for simply promoting content from development, testing, or production. Cloning essentially performs the migration process by checking the dependencies of the web maps in question and republishes them to the destination, where those dependencies are checked to see if they exist. A great way to visualize this relationship is by using our View Item Dependencies functionality in Admin Tools Pro and Portal. If those dependencies already exist, the cloning logic will attempt to wire them up appropriately during the move. If those dependencies are not found in the destination location, the cloning logic will attempt to bring those items over as well, and wire them up to the content in question.

The Cloning operation is meant to streamline workflows and save on time it takes to manually move over all content, re-wire services and resources, or even rebuild content from scratch. The logic behind cloning represents one of the most powerful and complex aspects of our suite of tools, and we recommend that everyone interested in the cloning process review our Knowledge Base Resources Online before beginning this operation. We have documented very valuable workflows, best practices, and considerations to be aware of for your move.

And if you decide that cloning does fit the migration needs you have, you might want to ask yourself the following question:

Do I want to spend time and resources cloning content that’s unused, broken, redundant, or otherwise irrelevant?” 

If the answer to that question is “NO!,” then I would really recommend taking a look at Clean My Org, for addressing that bloat, clutter, and problematic content before your cloning project begins. Think of it as a yard sale before moving to a new home.

So, to recap:

Copy Items – Duplicate content that points back to the same resources inside the Organization or Portal In question. 
Clone Items – Republish brand new items with new dependencies internally or externally to other Organizations or Portals.

And if you have questions about copying, cloning, or any other aspect of Admin Tools for ArcGIS, please reach out to us at We’ll be happy to answer any questions you have about your plans to move content.

Head of Customer Support