What is .DAT File ? When to Use DAT File ? How to Open .DAT File ?


👤 Diwas Poudel    🕒 Mar 13 2021    📁 Fix    📜 0 comment

Table of Content

What is the .dat File?

.dat file is a very old generic data file that contains application-specific information. These files are usually used only for application support, and each application treats and processes .dat files differently. There are no specific protocols and structure for a . DAT file, unlike the.gif or.docx files. You have to know how the application manages those files beforehand if you want to learn how.dat files work and how it is converted into a readable format.

MIME Type used by .dat file can be either application/octet-stream and zz-application/zz-winassoc-dat.

File Signature of all dat file are same.And Signature is : 50 4D 4F 43 43 4D 4F 43

Ex. If you have a .docx, .ppt,.xlsx file then you known .docx file can be properly open by MsWord, the .ppt file can be properly open by PowerPoint, and xlsx file can be opened by Excel, google sheets.But if you have a .dat file then you do not have a particular application to open it.

Exceptionally, .dat is found as standalone. In most cases, it is found along with other configuration files like DLL files used by the application.

Also Read: What is CSV File? How to Open CSV File?

What is the Content of Dat File?

Dat File can be anything, it can be text, binary, video, images, waves, midi, or any graphics.

.dat file can be an application-specific file, windows system-specific file, video file, records, and also can be a virus.

Content of Dat File in most of the case are not text so they are not readable. It looks like below.

DAT files are used by following category of application:

  • Web Browsers
  • Microsoft Applications
  • Audo / Video Players
  • Photo Viewer
  • Softwares and may more

Some of the popular dat file are as follow

  • winmail.dat
  • portable.dat
  • level.dat: It is a Minecraft data file that contains information like player data, user games level data, and seeds data.
  • chunks.dat: It stores binary terrain games blocks data.
Note: You do not have to know what is inside any .dat file so do not put stress on it. These files are not supposed to be opened by users. Application-specific .dat file can be read by that application only.

How to Find .dat file in Windows System?

Windows OS and Application use .dat files and are mostly hidden from you. You can find the .dat file in windows easily with the following steps:

Goto Search file and type: *dat. and press Enter and you will get the list of .dat files present in your windows system as shown below.

How to Open Dat File?

If the .dat file is saved in text format then it can be opened with the help of any text editor. But in most the cases, dat file contains binary data and is not meant to open manually. Even if you open it then you will not be able to understand the information written in it.

To open or read the dat file, first, you have to know which application this dat file belongs to.

Guess content in Dat File?

We can roughly guess the content of dat file. As we know the content of dat file can be text, audio, video, graphics, etc.

Steps for guessing:

1 Right-click on any dat file.

2 Click on Properties and look at file size.

If file size is in bytes and kb then they are generally a text file

If filesize is in much small MB then they can be audio and graphics file.

If the file size is big (say bigger than 100MBs) then it can be a video file.You can open video file using File Viewer Lite.

You can view the file using XVI32 Hex Editor.

XVI32 is a hex editor which can be installed in Windows 9x/NT/2000/XP/Vista/7.

Here, I have open one file called virtualregistry.dat and from there we can clearly see it is a reg file ie. Windows Registry File.

Note that XVI cannot open all types of file.

.dat File vs .txt file 

.dat File .txt File
The content inside dat file is not human readable in most of the case. The content inside the txt file is human-readable.
Used to store data that is generally not plain text. Used to store data which is plain text which contains like letter, character, and symbols.


It does not matter the file types and content inside it for programs to do file operation(read, write) with it. The program can read? Yes, That's it. It looks like garbage for you as most of the time you cannot open it and if opened then also cannot read the content.

How to Create a .dat File?

We do not create a .dat file for our doing general activities on the computer. It is generated for the programmers for storing program-related information. If you just want to create a text-based .dat file then following the below steps.

1. Right-click on an empty area in windows desktop, then click on "New" then "Text Document".

This will open a text document.

2. Write some things in it and click on File present at the top left corner, then "Save As" and give the desired name followed by .dat and click on ok.

Hey Hey Your text-based dat file is created

Frequently Asked Questions?

1 What is WinMail.dat and How to Open WinMail.dat File?

Ans: Sometimes you may get an email message with the winmail.dat attachment file. Actually, this file contains email formatting information that is not readable to human beings. Actually, this happens if the sender sends a rich text format message and you as a receiver do not have a mail program set up to handle rich text formatted Microsoft Outlook mail.

There are a number of ways to resolve the issue if the winmail.dat file needs to be opened to read the message. One simple solution is to ask the sender to modify the settings in Outlook so that mail can be sent in plain text and the original message is resended.

Warning: If you got the file via email attachment then it can be a virus do not open it directly.

2. Is .dat File a Virus?

.dat file could be virus..dat files virus infection codes can be spread using various techniques such as email spam messages, broken web pages or malicious software bundles, and freeware software packages.

3. How to prevent from .dat Viruses?

Ans: .dat viruses or any other Viruses are mainly attacked system file located at 

  • %AppData%
  • %Local%
  • %LocalLow%
  • %Roaming%
  • %Temp%
  • %Roaming%

To prevent the virus, scan your system with antivirus and antimalware software like Kaspersky, Nortan Anti Virus etc.

4. Is it safe to delete .dat file ?

Ans: Donot delete .dat file yourself because it can be system file.For example. NTUSER. DAT file is system file and deleting this file may affect your system.

5. What is NTUSER.DAT file?

Ans: Whenever you make changes in your system by changing looks, feels and behaviour of Windows , added new software then microsoft store those user-specific configuration settings in ntuser.dat file so that windows when windows loads again next time, Windows OS will read those setting from ntuser.dat file and apply those settings.

Deleting the ntuser.dat file does not cause Windows to crash but may remove any system settings and user configurations done usually recorded in the registry.