Which file formats are recommended for processing point clouds in TerraScan?

It is recommended to organize a point cloud in a TerraScan project and project blocks for processing the data. TerraScan supports multiple file formats from which you need to select one to be used for the block binary files. The best choice depends on a few factors:

  • Fast Binary (fbi) is the best format for processing data in TerraScan due to efficient read/write capabilities. The Fast Binary format will be made an open format, but at this time is not available.
    • If your project has more than 255 lines, you should choose Fast binary or Scan binary 16 bit instead of Scan binary 8 bit. If your project has fewer than 255 lines, Scan binary 8 bit is a more compact format than Scan binary 16 bit.
  • If your project is static ground-based, you must choose Fast binary, Scan binary 8 bit, or Scan binary 16 bit.
  • If you need to transfer the laser files to other applications, for example working with GeoCue or LP360, the best choice is LAS 1.4 (LAS 1.2 if using v8/v8i) which is an open industry standard format and usually used for laser data exchange. The version of the LAS format mainly depends on the attributes you want to store for each point. Note: One may convert from an earlier version of LAS to v1.4, but not the other way around.
  • If you want to store the data in compressed files, use an LAZ 1.x format. This reduces storage space requirements significantly and thus, is a good option for data delivery and archiving. The LAZ implementation in TerraScan makes it not an efficient processing format.
    • Usable when performing manual editing only
      • Not as big of an impact if takes a bit longer to open a block of data
    • Too slow for batch processes – example macro timing:
      • Compression and decompression takes a lot of time
      • If not all attributes are needed then FBI is quickest
      • Not very useable for core classification processing



Fast Binary

12 sec

LAS 1.2

50 sec

LAZ 1.2

210 sec

It is recommended that you configure your default storage format in the TerraScan settings (TerraScan General Toolbar -> Settings -> File Formats -> Default Storage Format) on each machine.

Default Project Storage

Default Project Storage


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