Can anybody help me open a .dat file?

My guess is “no,” but let’s give it a whirl. I have a bunch of files in data format (.DAT) on this computer left over from previous users. I also have to find information about “xxxx” and I decided to search this computer to see if there is any information that will useful in learning about “xxxx.” My search turns up “xxxx” in a bunch of .DAT files.

I’ve googled for “dat” along with items like “how to open” and the results suggest that I’m fecked. The only thing close to helpful has been using the MS Windows Notepad 'cos that’ll open just about anything. Of course, it won’t always make it readable, and that is what has been happening: long strings of gobblety-gook, bric-a-brac, etc.

Is there a way, or are there any programs that will allow me to open .DAT files and make sense of them?

Thanks in advance.

p.s. They’re all associated with a water-monitoring program that we have. So my MS Internet Explorer’s history file contains one item, index.dat, but when right-click for properties it says that it is associated w/ the water-monitoring program and when I try to open it, I can’t. I don’t know if that info makes a difference, so I put it here for completeness. :slight_smile:

It depends on what program created them. Unfortunately, .DAT is an extremely common extention. According to it could be any one of dozens.

Like QED says, there are lots of programs out there that create .dat files, as many programmers think alike, and .dat seems like a logical extension for data storage. The reason that Windows says they’re all associated with your water-monitoring program is that when you installed that program, it told the Windows registry that it owned the .dat extension, so Windows explorer thinks that all .dat files belong to that program, whether they do or not.

If you’re just interested in finding out what’s in the file, you might try a binary file editor, like Hex Workshop, which will let you open the file and will display the Hexadecimal codes with any readable text alongside. You’ll still see a lot of garbage, but any text strings embedded in the data will be readable.

No guarantees, but feel free to email me one or two of these files, and I’ll see if I can find out anything. I’m kind of curious now too!

You can try running the program, strings, on the .dat files. If the data you are looking for is in clear-text, then strings will pull it out. If the data consists of numeric values, graphics, etc. then strings won’t help.

It is easy enough to run strings, but you need to be command-line savy. I would be happy to give you more details if you would like. This is a free version of the program, but make sure you use the -a option.