Opening DAT files

Have a problem opening a .DAT file? We collect information about file formats and can explain what DAT files are. Additionally we recommend software suitable for opening or converting such files.

What is the .DAT file type?

The .dat extension is most commonly used to denote Video CD (VCD) and Super Video CD (SVCD) video files. Popular in 1990's and eventually yielding to DVD, the legacy (S)VCD standard defines the use of CD's to store digital video data (~74 min/disk). VCD provides video quality comparable with the analog tape-based VHS (Video Home System), while SVCD exceeds VHS. Full-length VCD movies were released on 2-3 disks.

A VCD .dat file is an MPEG-1 (Motion Picture Experts Group) media container file. It contains a video track encoded with the MPEG-1 codec at a constant bitrate with a resolution of 352x288 (PAL), and an audio track encoded with the 'MPEG-1 Audio Layer II' codec (44 kHz, mono/stereo). An SVCD .dat track would have a higher resolution (480x576, PAL) at the expense of video duration per disk.

On an (S)VCD disk, .dat files are placed in the '\MPEGAV' folder.

Individual .dat files can be played back by all media players that support MPEG-1 on most platforms. Often, a .dat file can be force-made to be 'seen' by a player by changing its extension from .dat to .mpg.

In a more general sense, the .dat extension stands for 'Data,' does not define any specific file type or format (other than 'Generic Data,' DAT) and can be used to tag various data files. Such .dat files can hold any type of data and have different internal format, depending on an application or OS that created them. DAT files are widely used by a variety of applications and operating systems.

In particular, the .dat extension is found in the file 'index.dat,' a user-specific index file automatically created in the 'Temporary Internet Files' directory by MS Internet Explorer (IE), separately for history, cookies and cache data. There is privacy-related controversy in connection with such 'index.dat' files in Windows.

Another frequent occurrence of the .dat extension is in the file 'Winmail.dat' used by MS Outlook (part of MS Office) to store and transmit e-mail attachments.

Software to open or convert DAT files

You can open DAT files with the following programs:
GOM Player
GOM Player by Gretech Corporation
KMPlayer by PandoraTV
Acer Video Player
Acer Video Player by Acer Incorporated
VLC media player
VLC media player by VideoLAN
GOM Player
GOM Player by GOM & Company

Popular formats