A DAT File: What Is It?

The majority of the time, a file with the DAT file extension is a generic data file that contains information particular to the application it refers to. However, they are frequently seen alongside other configuration files, such as DLL files.

Every form of DAT file is produced or used independently by different programs. They are used by a wide range of applications as references to specific operations in their individual programs.

You’ll likely see DAT files most frequently if a video file is being kept in this manner or if you’ve received an email attachment with this extension that isn’t what it should be. This is because the majority of them are hidden away in an application’s data directories.

Since DAT files aren’t as particular as most files, you need to do some research because the file extension doesn’t immediately indicate how to open one. For instance, an MP3 file immediately informs you that it is a music file, a TXT file explains that it is a plain text file, etc. A DAT file’s data is not always readily apparent.

How to Read and Open a DAT File

Because they lack a clear application that opens them, DAT files differ from the majority of other file types. A majority of file types do.

Determine whether the file you have is text-based, video-based, an attachment, or something else in order to determine how it should be “opened” or “used.”

Here is a lot more assistance to help you figure it all out. Usually, how and where you obtained the file gives you the vital details to focus your investigation.

DAT Files That Are Textual

A text editor makes some DAT files relatively simple to read because they are text-based. For instance, one could be found here on your computer:

Alternatively, you could:

Your initial attempt should be with a text editor because you’re not sure what tool should be used to open this type of DAT file. Although Windows has a rudimentary text editor called Windows Notepad, you can also utilize more sophisticated text editors.

In this illustration, you can clearly read all of the text in the file and determine what it is used for. Furthermore, the “Adobe” folder in the file’s path makes it clear in this instance that the file is linked to an Adobe product (located in the title bar).

However, depending totally on what the file is used for, some DAT files might not be text files. These particular DAT files could be locked files that are challenging to move, destroy, or change. If software uses a configuration file constantly, like those located in the installation directory, you’ll likely only encounter locked DAT files in those cases. It is likely that these files will never need to be manually opened or altered in any manner.

DAT files for video

Some of them are actually video files that can be opened with tools like VCDGear or CyberLink PowerDirector because they were saved from such products, among others.

The purpose is to locate the DAT file on your computer. Similar to the Adobe example given above, there is a significant probability that the software that will open it is CyberLink if it is located in a program folder that seems to be linked to one of their products.

If you know it’s a video but isn’t sure what application to use to play it, give VLC a shot.

Again, the majority of DAT files found in application directories on your computer will be relatively meaningless because the majority (if not the whole content) will contain useless computer code.

Email Attachments with DAT Files

Winmail.dat or ATT0001.dat files are the most common kind of DAT files that you get as email attachments. These attachments are most likely corrupted versions of those found in Microsoft products like Outlook, Outlook Express, Windows Live Mail, and Microsoft Exchange.

In this case, you ought to save the file to your computer before either uploading it to Winmaildat or importing it into Winmail Opener to extract the actual attachment. Winmail.dat files can be opened by Klammer on macOS.

It’s possible that the attachment will finally turn out to be any other type of file, such as a document, a picture, etc.

Additional DAT File Types

Another tool that uses DAT files in a completely different way than all the instances listed above is DriveImage XML. This particular backup tool creates a mirror image backup, therefore the complete backup is contained in a single DAT file, along with an XML file.

No text editor, video editing software, or anything similar could be used to access this file. Instead, since DriveImage XML is the application that produced this specific file, that program is required to use it.

In this instance, that entails using the XML file that is linked to the DAT file to restore it to a hard drive:

Other applications that utilize DAT files include:

  • The wallet.dat file is used by Bitcoin Core as the Bitcoin client wallet file.

DAT files serve a number of functions in both SimCity and Minecraft.

The DAT file extension is used by the Porteus Linux OS to store container files.

Information about portability and registration is kept in DAT files by Piriform programs.

  • The Windows Registry stores hives and other registry data in DAT files.

Sound effects are kept in a DAT file by GameMaker Studio.

  • A DAT file is used to store the pictures, audio, and other game data for games created with Clickteam Fusion.
  • A DAT file is used by a number of apps that use Inno Setup to hold uninstaller data.

Without a doubt, there are dozens or hundreds more.

Even though they are unrelated, some files have a similar appearance to this one. If none of these alternatives work, make sure the file extension is correct. You might be confusing this with another file, such as a DAR or BAT file.

A DAT File Conversion Guide

A free file converter can be used to convert most files, but as you can see above, DAT files are different from other files. Depending on the kind of file you’re working with, there are different conversion procedures.

If one is already being used by a particular software to store configuration data, there is really no justification for changing it to another format. The file would undoubtedly become unusable after conversion, and perhaps even the software.

It is possible to open video files in the video editing software that produced them and then export or save them in another format, most likely one like MP4, AVI, WMV, or FLV. If your DAT file came from an email attachment, keep in mind the instructions about winmail.dat and ATT0001.dat files from a few lines above.

Normally, you cannot rename a file and expect it to function after changing the file extension to one that your computer accepts. Try renaming the DAT file to the appropriate extension and give that a shot if, however, you know it should be, say, a Word document file but you received it by email with the DAT extension.

Rename the DAT file, for instance, to DOC or DOCX for a Microsoft Word document, JPG or PNG for a picture, etc. To rename a file extension, you must first ensure that Windows is set to display file extensions.

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