A whole host of different applications and even operating systems can generate files with a .dat file extension. Some examples include multimedia software, storage cleaning, and optimization tools, e-mail attachments, browser cache/downloads, etc. They can even represent incomplete audio, video, image, or text files since they can store text or binary information. This is mainly why they’re so frequently accidentally deleted, erased or hidden by malware, or wiped by whatever created them. Thankfully, you can reverse that by learning how to recover .dat files. Let’s begin.
1. Repair .dat files via disk utility
In most cases, .dat files are either deleted, hidden, or blocked from executing by the application or operating system, or simply corrupted. Whatever the case may be, you’d save a lot of time by running a disk check-up, which will automatically repair problematic files, .dat ones included. Then, you can follow method 4. Here’s how repairing .dat files via disk utility works:
On Windows, use the set of steps we mentioned under the headline Use a disk error check to fix a corrupted USB drive in our “recovering hidden files from pendrive” guide. You can also run a Windows System File Checker utility by typing sfc /scannow in step 3.
Here’s how to run a disk check-up on Mac:
- Open the Disk Utility app by opening Launchpad and typing “disk utility”.
- Click on View > Show All Devices in the top left corner.
- Select a volume with .dat files in the sidebar, then click the First Aid button.
- Click on Run, follow the brief on-screen instructions, and when the scan is complete, click on Done.
- Repeat the same for all volumes that are affected by .dat file loss. Do the same for containers or storage devices, if needed.
2. Recover .dat files by reverting to a previous system state
Since this is also a way to restore .bak files you can follow method 1 in that guide on both Windows and Mac. For Windows 10, you might also benefit from our “deleted folder recovery in Windows 10” guide. For this to work, the folder the .dat files are located in must be included in the Windows 10 backup. Skip the method under the last headline, since that’s up next.
3. Recover .dat files via data recovery program
If you don’t have a Mac or Windows backup, follow the same instructions outlined in method 2 of the “.bak file recovery” guide we mentioned. Keep in mind that they won’t have an icon and can’t be previewed. Also, the files won’t be sorted into specific categories. For that reason, you can find them listed under “Lost Files”, “Raw Lost Files”, or “Special Lost Files” for EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard. For both Piriform Recuva and UnDeleteMyFiles Pro, you must spot them manually and put a checkmark in front of their names before restoration.
4. Recovering .dat files by converting or extracting
Since .dat files often require the original application to load and recognize the text or binary data, you can’t open them directly. So, here’s how to decide which steps to take:
1. I recognize names of .dat files
Great! Look up the application it belongs to, and navigate to its installation folder. Then, copy .dat files to the main folder or the designated subfolder or and try to load them within the application. Alternatively, rename the .dat file extension to match the extension of the application that generated them.
2. I don’t know what generated .dat files
Not an issue. There are a few more ways to recover .dat files:
- Online conversion. Find any website that can convert files with .dat file extensions. Unfortunately, they’re frequently limited to text and multimedia files. Some formats include audio (.mp3), video (.mp4), document (.doc, .docx, .csv, .xml, .txt, .pdf), image (.jpg, .png), archive (.zip), or CAD drawing (.dxf).
- Dedicated software. Third-party software can accelerate .dat file conversion, but has similar limitations. We’re not affiliated with them, but a good example is Movavi DAT Converter. It can transform them into .mp4, .avi, .mov, .mkv, .wmv, .mpeg, .mp3, .flac, ,jpeg, and .png.
- Online extraction. Extraction of .dat file data into a familiar file format works when they’re sent or received via e-mail attachments. To extract files, use an online tool such as www.winmaildat.com.