.DAT File Extension

File Type 1

Data File

Developer N/A
Popularity
4.1  |  2308 Votes
Category Data Files
Format Text and Binary

What is a DAT file?

A DAT file is a generic data file created by a specific application. It may contain data in binary or text format. DAT files are typically accessed only by the application that created them.

How to open a DAT file

Many programs create, open, or reference DAT files. However, most DAT files are used only for application support and are not meant to be opened manually by users. Text-based DAT files can be viewed in any text editor.

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Programs that open or reference DAT files

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Original program that created the file
Updated March 2, 2021
File Type 2

Minecraft Data File

Developer Mojang
Popularity
4.1  |  464 Votes
Category Game Files
Format Binary

What is a DAT file?

A DAT file is a data file used by Minecraft, a 3D exploration and construction game. It is saved in a compressed Gzip format and may contain various kinds of game data, including world information, a record of a player's inventory, and a record of a player's position. Minecraft uses DAT files to save a world's current state and track player progress.

More Information

In old versions of Minecraft, DAT files were also used to store level "chunks," which are small map pieces the game loads on-demand as a player navigates through a world. This format was introduced in the Minecraft Infdev version. The chunks used a 16 x 16 x 128 map dimension.

Minecraft version 1.3's beta release introduced a new chunk format, called Region. Regions were saved in .MCR files. The MCR format was subsequently replaced by the .MCA format, also referred to as Anvil, in patch 1.2.1.

NOTE: Different versions of Minecraft use differently-formatted DAT files. Therefore, a DAT file produced by one version of the game may not be compatible with other versions.

Common DAT Filenames

level.dat - The Minecraft data file that stores world information, such as the player's inventory, the level generator used to create the world, and the current time of day.

How to open a DAT file

Most players will never need to open or modify Minecraft's DAT files. However, modders who want to edit Minecraft's DAT files can do so using NBTExplorer, a multiplatform Minecraft save editing tool. For example, a modder could open and modify level.dat to add items to their inventory, change the world's game rules, or place themself in another area of the world.

Programs that open or reference DAT files

Windows
Mac
Linux
Updated April 8, 2022
File Type 3

Piriform Portable Mode Flag

Developer Piriform
Popularity
4.0  |  661 Votes
Category Misc Files
Format Text

What is a DAT file?

Portable.dat is a flag used by Piriform applications, such as CCleaner, Speccy, Defraggler, and Recuva. It tells the applications to operate in portable mode, rather than installing themselves to your PC. Portable.dat is stored in an application's parent directory, alongside the app's .EXE file.

More Information

Those looking to streamline their computer's file system and performance use Piriform apps to identify and delete unnecessary files, automatically keep their computer up to date, and perform other optimization tasks.

If you want to run a Piriform application without installing it to your computer, you can download and run the app's portable version. The portable versions of Piriform applications include a portable.dat file. This file is an empty text file, which Piriform apps use only as a flag telling them to operate in portable mode.

Running a Piriform app in portable mode prevents the app from installing its settings to the Windows registry. Instead, the app will create and store its program settings in an .INI file (named for the app, such as CCleaner.ini).

NOTE: You can manually run an already-installed Piriform app in portable mode by creating a portable.dat file in the program's installation directory (e.g. C:/​Program Files/​CCleaner).

Common DAT Filenames

Portable.dat - Tells Piriform applications to operate in portable mode.

How to open a DAT file

Portable.dat files are empty and not meant to be opened.

Programs that open or reference DAT files

Updated May 5, 2022
File Type 4

Piriform Registration Key

Developer Piriform
Popularity
4.0  |  410 Votes
Category Data Files
Format Text

What is a DAT file?

A DAT file is a key file used by Piriform computer cleaning and optimization applications, such as CCleaner and Recuva. It contains your product registration key. When you start a Piriform application that you purchased, the app references your DAT file to confirm your purchase.

More Information

Piriform publishes applications that allow PC users to clean up their computers' files and optimize their PCs' performance. For example, CCleaner allows users to clean up their web browser history, identify and delete duplicate files, and automatically update their PCs' drivers.

After you purchase a Piriform application, the application will create a DAT file that stores your registration key. If, for some reason, the application cannot find this DAT file at startup, it will operate in trial mode instead of full mode. For this reason, you should never move, edit, or otherwise alter your Piriform registration key.

NOTE: Piriform also uses Piriform Portable Mode Flag DAT files.

How to open a DAT file

You should not open, edit, or in any way alter a DAT file that contains your Piriform registration key. If you do, the corresponding Piriform program may function in trial mode, instead of full mode.

Programs that open or reference DAT files

Updated May 5, 2022
File Type 5

Inno Setup Uninstaller Data File

Developer Jordan Russel
Popularity
4.0  |  262 Votes
Category Misc Files
Format Binary

What is a DAT file?

A DAT file is an uninstaller data file created by Inno Setup, a program used to create Windows installers and uninstallers. DAT files created by Inno Setup are typically named unins000.dat. They are stored in a program's installation directory and used to uninstall that program if a user chooses to do so.

More Information

When you install a Windows program that uses an installer built using Inno Setup, the installer creates an unins000.exe and unins000.dat file. If you uninstall the program, Windows runs unins000.exe, which uses information stored in unins000.dat to locate the program's files and remove them from your computer.

Common DAT Filenames

unins000.dat - The name commonly assigned to Inno Setup uninstaller DAT files.

How to open a DAT file

Inno Setup DAT files are not meant to be opened. When you uninstall a program that uses an Inno Setup uninstaller, the uninstaller references its associated DAT file.

Programs that open or reference DAT files

Windows
Updated April 13, 2022
File Type 6

Windows Registry Hive File

Developer Microsoft
Popularity
4.0  |  247 Votes
Category System Files
Format Binary

What is a DAT file?

The Microsoft Windows registry stores user settings in DAT files. These settings include passwords, account settings, and file associations. Windows applies settings from these DAT files when you log in.

More Information

One common registry hive file is NTUSER.DAT, which stores user-level registry information. It resides in the following directory:

C:/​Users/​[user]/​

NTUSER.DAT contains important user settings; you should never delete it.

Another common DAT file is SCHEMA.DAT, which is a registry backup and restore file. It resides in:

C:/​Windows/​System32/​SMI/​Store/​Machine/​

Common DAT Filenames

NTUSER.DAT - Stores Windows settings for a specific user.

SCHEMA.DAT - Stores Windows registry backup and restore data.

How to open a DAT file

In most cases, you should never open, edit, or delete a Windows registry DAT file.

Programs that open or reference DAT files

Windows
Updated April 18, 2022
File Type 7

Porteus Save Container

Developer Porteus Team
Popularity
4.0  |  113 Votes
Category Data Files
Format N/A

What is a DAT file?

A DAT file is a system configuration file used by Porteus, a portable Linux operating system (OS). It contains a list of changes a user has made to their instance of Porteus. For example, a DAT file may contain a list of modified system settings, as well as a user's bookmarks, downloaded files, and browser history.

More Information

Porteus allows users to save and load changes they've made to the OS from a DAT file, most commonly named save.dat. If you are installing Porteus on a device that uses a Windows file system, you must create and use a DAT file to save and load changes. On these devices, a DAT file is required to retain necessary system data, such as symlinks and Linux permissions.

How to create a Porteus DAT file

To create a DAT file in Porteus:

  1. Boot Porteus into the KDE, Xfce, or LXDE desktop interfaces.
  2. After the boot is complete, open the Porteus menu and select System → Porteus save.dat manager.
  3. Click Create.
  4. Follow the prompts to finish creating your DAT file.

Common DAT Filenames

save.dat - The most common filename used for Porteus DAT files, because they are created using the Porteus save.dat manager.

How to open a DAT file

Porteus DAT files are not meant to be opened. To use a DAT file with Porteus, open your porteus.cfg file (located at boot/​syslinux) and set the changes= parameter to reference your DAT file. For example, if your DAT file is named save.dat and stored in the /​porteus/​changes directory, set the parameter to changes=/porteus/changes/save.dat.

Programs that open DAT files

Linux
Updated March 30, 2022
File Type 8

Exchange E-mail Attachment

Developer Microsoft
Popularity
3.8  |  165 Votes
Category Misc Files
Format Binary

What is a DAT file?

Winmail.dat files contain formatting information for Rich Text (RTF) messages sent from Microsoft Exchange Server. They are added to the end of emails when a recipient's email client does not support RTF messages. Winmail.dat files are not useful to users who do not use Outlook or Exchange Server to retrieve their mail.

More Information

Read more about Winmail.dat files, including how to open them and prevent them from being sent.

Common DAT Filenames

Winmail.dat - A file attached to the end of email messages when an email program cannot read the rich text formatting data from the source email. This file originates from a Microsoft Exchange Server.

Programs that open or reference DAT files

Updated March 22, 2022
File Type 9

SimCity 4 Game Data

Developer Electronic Arts
Popularity
4.0  |  86 Votes
Category Game Files
Format Binary

What is a DAT file?

A DAT file is a game data package used by SimCity 4, a city-building simulation game. It typically contains several types of game data files, such as .SC4MODEL, .SC4LOT, and .SC4DESC files. DAT files are used to package multiple related game data files into a single file, which SimCity 4 can reference and load more easily.

More Information

Published in 2003, SimCity 4 is the fourth major release in Maxis's SimCity series. The game uses a variety of proprietary game data files, some of which are packaged together in DAT files. For example, the SC4MODEL, SC4LOT, and SC4DESC files used to load a city lot might be saved as a single DAT file.

Player-created SimCity 4 mods are also commonly saved as DAT files. To use these mods, players must place them in SimCity 4's plugins folder (and follow any other instructions included with the mod).

How to open a DAT file

Most players will never need to open SimCity 4's DAT files. However, those who are interested in modding SimCity 4 or browsing DAT files' contents can do so using iLive Reader or DatGen, which are player-created applications.

Programs that open or reference DAT files

Updated April 13, 2022
File Type 10

Nonimmigrant Visa Application

Developer U.S. Department of State
Popularity
3.9  |  92 Votes
Category Data Files
Format Binary

What is a DAT file?

A DAT file contains information entered during the U.S. Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application (DS-160) process, available from the U.S. Department of State's Consular Electronic Application Center. Applicants can save their application as a DAT file by selecting Save Application to File during the application process. They can then use their DAT file to retrieve their application online.

More Information

Those applying for a U.S. nonimmigrant visa can do so online, via the U.S. Department of State's Consular Electronic Application Center. After an applicant starts the application process, they are given an application ID.

During the application process, applicants can save the current version of their application to their computer as a DAT file. For example, an applicant who needs to finish their application later can select Save Application to File to save their application to their computer. The applicant can then use their application ID and DAT file to retrieve and complete their application.

How to open a DAT file

To use a DAT file to open your U.S. Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application (DS-160), go to the U.S. Nonimmigrant Visa Application website (linked below) and select RETRIEVE AN APPLICATION. Then, follow the prompts to use your application ID and DAT file to open your application.

Programs that open DAT files

Updated April 19, 2022
File Type 11

VCD Video File

Developer N/A
Popularity
3.6  |  173 Votes
Category Video Files
Format Binary

What is a DAT file?

A DAT file contains a video stream from a Video CD (VCD) disc. It stores the actual video data played from the VCD, and is typically saved in MPEG-1 or MPEG-2 format. VCDs were briefly popular in the 1990s for distributing movies and home videos before DVDs.

More Information
Screenshot of a .dat file in VideoLAN VLC media player 3.0.12
DAT file open in VideoLAN VLC media player 3.0.12

The VCD format was developed by Sony, Philips, JVC, and Matsushita and released in 1993. It became a popular method for distributing films in various parts of Asia. However, the disc format was replaced by DVDs, which offered more video storage and better copyright security.

If you find old VCDs with videos that you want to view you can play them with a VCD video player, but those are rare. If you do not have access to a VCD player, you can attempt to play the discs on your DVD player or any computer with a CD/DVD disc drive. When playing a disc on your computer, you will most likely need to manually locate and play the disc's DAT files, which are typically stored in a disc's MPEGAV folder.

NOTE: Some users may have created their own DAT video files using programs like VCDEasy or Nero. These files may not be stored on VCD discs.

How to open a DAT file

You can open and play DAT files with various media players. Some options include VideoLAN VLC media player (multiplatform), CyberLink PowerDirector (multiplatform), and MPlayer (multiplatform).

How to convert a DAT file

You can convert DAT video files to more common video formats with VideoLAN VLC media player, CyberLink PowerDirector, and VCDGear (multiplatform). For example, VLC can convert DAT videos to:

  • .MP4 - MPEG-4 Video
  • .WEBM - WebM Video
  • .TS - Video Transport Stream
  • .ASF - Advanced Systems Format

Programs that open DAT files

Updated April 19, 2022
File Type 12

GameMaker Studio Game Audio Data Package

Developer YoYo Games
Popularity
3.7  |  9 Votes
Category Game Files
Format Binary

What is a DAT file?

A DAT file is a game data package created by GameMaker Studio, a cross-platform game engine. It contains a group of .WAV sound effects used in a GameMaker Studio-developed video game. Most notably, the game Undertale uses audio assets packaged in DAT files.

More Information

GameMaker Studio (also known as just GameMaker) is a game development engine produced by YoYo Games. It allows developers to create video games using drag-and-drop development features and a custom programming language known as Game Maker Language.

While developing a game in GameMaker Studio, developers can choose to save the game's audio assets in a separate, audio-only DAT package. This package is saved alongside the game's primary asset package.

How to open a DAT file

DAT files are not meant to be opened by players. However, players who want to view, edit, or add to a DAT file's contents can do so using UndertaleModTool, a modding tool for GameMaker Studio games.

Programs that open or reference DAT files

Windows
Updated March 2, 2022
File Type 13

Clickteam Fusion Asset Package

Developer Clickteam
Popularity
3.5  |  6 Votes
Category Data Files
Format Binary

What is a DAT file?

A DAT file is an asset package used by a program created using Clickteam Fusion 2.5. Clickteam Fusion is most commonly used to create video games, so DAT files most commonly include images, music, and other data used by those games.

More Information

Clickteam Fusion allows developers to create video games and other software for Windows, iOS, Android, and other platforms. While in development, these applications are saved as .MFA files.

As a developer packages their MFA file for the application's target platform(s), the developer may choose to package all the application's assets, including images, music, and other necessary data, into a DAT file. This DAT file can either be stored within the final application or downloaded alongside the application and unpacked during installation.

How to open a DAT file

Clickteam Fusion DAT files are not meant to be opened manually. When you install or run a Clickteam Fusion-created application that includes a DAT file, the application will automatically access the assets stored in that DAT file.

Programs that open or reference DAT files

Windows
Updated September 7, 2021
File Type 14

Nintendo Wii DAT File

Developer Redump.org
Popularity
3.8  |  4 Votes
Category Game Files
Format Text

What is a DAT file?

A Nintendo Wii DAT file is a text file that was created by Redump.org. It contains XML-formatted text that is used to verify whether a Wii game has been dumped correctly. Redump.org's Wii DAT file is named wii.dat.

More Information
Screenshot of a .dat file in GitHub Atom
DAT file open in GitHub Atom

Nintendo Wii gamers who want to back up their games or play them on PC-based Wii emulators may dump the games into .ISO files. For example, gamers might use the Homebrew Channel and CleanRip applications to create an ISO copy of a game. To verify that CleanRip properly dumped a game, gamers can check the ISO file's checksum against the verified checksum included in Redump.org's wii.dat file. If the checksums match, it means CleanRip created a perfect copy of the game.

Typically, CleanRip automatically downloads and uses wii.dat to verify dumps. However, if gamers want to manually verify a dump, they can download their own copy of wii.dat from various Wii wikis and forums.

How to open a DAT file

Wii.dat is a plain text file, so you can open and examine it in any text editor, such as Microsoft Notepad (Windows), Apple TextEdit (Mac), or GitHub Atom (cross-platform).

Programs that open DAT files

Updated February 19, 2021

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