What are data files?

As the name suggests, data files are a handy tool for storing different types of data - from data streams and detailed graphs to specific software information.

In fact, data file types are among the most common you’ll find on any computer. They come in a wide variety of formats and make up the backbone of your computer software, tools and utilities - enabling your computer to run, create documents and manage libraries.

They can include everything from presentation documents to game texture dictionaries, binary logs, calendar events, contact databases and more.

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What are data files used for?

Data file formats usually come in two main varieties:

  • Binary files - files that contain information in their binary format, usually supporting documents containing image or video data.
  • Text-based files - containing text-based data and information, for documents that are primarily databases. Not to be confused with text files, such as TXT.

Overall, both these varieties can cover a wide range of functions, from presentation slides used to host meetings and pitches in the business world, to specific programme files underpinning computer functions.

Learn more about data file types.

Data files come in a wide variety of formats, many of which you may encounter in your day-to-day life. Examples of data files include:

  • .DAT. DAT files contain programme information. They can store a wide variety of data and work exclusively with the software in which they were created. Information they store includes video, audio and text information.
  • .PPT. PPT files work with older versions of Microsoft’s PowerPoint programme. These files handle presentation data and enable you to store slide information.
  • .PPTX. Another PowerPoint data file. PPTX is an XML-version of Microsoft’s presentation format and can work across multiple operating systems. It has been the standard with iterations of Microsoft Office post-2007.
  • .RPT. RPT files are report files, which you will often encounter as business reports or analytics sheets.
  • .VCF. These files store contact information using a simple text foundation and are especially useful for companies handling sensitive personal data.

Advantages and disadvantages of data files

Data file types have a wide range of usages across different programmes, software and industries. However as with any set of files, they have their advantages and disadvantages.


  • Organise large amounts of data. Data file formats are great at handling vast quantities of data and making it manageable and shareable.
  • Wide variety of usages. They can cover an array of different data forms, utilities and programmes. This offers you a variety of options in your industry or personal dealings.


  • May require specialist knowledge. Data files can be incredibly useful, but to get the most from the file type you may need specialist training or experience.
  • Restricted software. Some formats are restricted to particular programmes that support them. This means that you’ll need to have that software install and knowledge of it, to operate and manage them.

How to convert data files to PDF.

PDFs can be a great way to make data files more shareable across operating systems and hardware.

If you are looking to transform your data file into a PDF, to share with others safely, securely and professionally, Adobe’s convert to PDF tool is the best starting point.

In fact, a whole range of different file types can be put through the free official tools - including the option to convert PPT to PDF.

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Data files: FAQs.

What are data files saved as?

Most data files are saved in binary format, such as reports or computer code. Some, however, are saved in plain text format and will display via word processing or similar tools.

What is a closed data file format?

Closed data file formats have their original metadata hidden or inaccessible to regular users. This is usually because altering the metadata can corrupt or break the file - and so closing the format prevents tampering.

What is an open data format?

Open data file formats enable a user to edit the base metadata to alter the file or modify it, for use with other programmes and software or to perform additional functions.