DBF file icon

DBF File Extension

Database Format

What is DBF file?

File with DBF contains a structured database organized in tables with records. The format was developed in 1983 for database application dBase II. DBF format was designed to facilitate data exchange between various applications. Total of seven versions of DBF format were released, and each iteration added new features and changes. Due to DBF format versions differences, not all applications can open given DBF file. DBF format has no official public documention available.

DBF file header contains information about the related database, saved in binary format. Header holds such information as:

  1. File version,
  2. Last database update date,
  3. Numer of records – a 32-bit number,
  4. Header length and record field lenght,
  5. Encryption used,
  6. Database field descriptions in the form of a table.

After the header recored in ASCII text or binary format are saved. Record fields should have a constant length. When a record is removed from the database by the application, its field is filled with zeros. New records registered in the database are added to the end of the file, increasing its size (depends on the implementation). Sometimes previously deleted records are overwritten with new records. DBT is a version of DBF file used by xBase software applications for storing floating point data – binary data, memos, or OLE objects.

DBF files can also be opened using dedicated DBF viewers. Such tools allow users to inspect the file contents in a human-readable form. DBF files should not be opened with text editor as they may containd binary data.

Programs which support DBF file extension

Below you will find an index of software programs that can be used to open DBF files divided into 4 categories according to system platform supported. DBF files can be encountered on all system platforms, including mobile, yet there is no guarantee each will properly support such files.

Updated: 11/04/2023

How to open file with DBF extension?

There can be multiple causes why you have problems with opening DBF files on given system. What is important, all common issues related to files with DBF extension can be resolved by the users themselves. The process is quick and doesn’t involve an IT expert. The following is a list of guidelines that will help you identify and solve file-related problems.

Step 1. Install Microsoft Access software

Install software to open DBF file Problems with opening and working with DBF files are most probably having to do with no proper software compatible with DBF files being present on your machine. This one is an easy one. Select Microsoft Access or one of the recommended programs (for example, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Works, Visual FoxPro) and download it from appropriate source and install on your system. The full list of programs grouped by operating systems can be found above. One of the most risk-free method of downloading software is using links provided by official distributors. Visit Microsoft Access website and download the installer.

Step 2. Verify the you have the latest version of Microsoft Access

Update software that support file extension DBFYou still cannot access DBF files although Microsoft Access is installed on your system? Make sure that the software is up to date. Sometimes software developers introduce new formats in place of that already supports along with newer versions of their applications. This can be one of the causes why DBF files are not compatible with Microsoft Access. All of the file formats that were handled just fine by the previous versions of given program should be also possible to open using Microsoft Access.

Step 3. Set the default application to open DBF files to Microsoft Access

After installing Microsoft Access (the most recent version) make sure that it is set as the default application to open DBF files. The process of associating file formats with default application may differ in details depending on platform, but the basic procedure is very similar.

Associate software with DBF file on Windows

The procedure to change the default program in Windows

  • Right-click the DBF file and choose Open with option
  • Next, select the Choose another app option and then using More apps open the list of available applications
  • Finally select Look for another app on this PC, point to the folder where Microsoft Access is installed, check the Always use this app to open DBF files box and conform your selection by clicking OK button
Associate software with DBF file on Mac

The procedure to change the default program in Mac OS

  • Right-click the DBF file and select Information
  • Find the Open with option – click the title if its hidden
  • Select Microsoft Access and click Change for all...
  • A message window should appear informing that This change will be applied to all files with DBF extension. By clicking Continue you confirm your selection.

Step 4. Verify that the DBF is not faulty

If you followed the instructions form the previous steps yet the issue is still not solved, you should verify the DBF file in question. It is probable that the file is corrupted and thus cannot be accessed.

Check DBF file for viruses
1. The DBF may be infected with malware – make sure to scan it with an antivirus tool.

If the file is infected, the malware that resides in the DBF file hinders attempts to open it. It is advised to scan the system for viruses and malware as soon as possible or use an online antivirus scanner. DBF file is infected with malware? Follow the steps suggested by your antivirus software.

2. Check whether the file is corrupted or damaged

Did you receive the DBF file in question from a different person? Ask him/her to send it one more time. It is possible that the file has not been properly copied to a data storage and is incomplete and therefore cannot be opened. It could happen the the download process of file with DBF extension was interrupted and the file data is defective. Download the file again from the same source.

3. Ensure that you have appropriate access rights

There is a possibility that the file in question can only be accessed by users with sufficient system privileges. Switch to an account that has required privileges and try opening the Database Format file again.

4. Check whether your system can handle Microsoft Access

If the system is under havy load, it may not be able to handle the program that you use to open files with DBF extension. In this case close the other applications.

5. Ensure that you have the latest drivers and system updates and patches installed

Regularly updated system, drivers, and programs keep your computer secure. This may also prevent problems with Database Format files. It is possible that one of the available system or driver updates may solve the problems with DBF files affecting older versions of given software.

Do you want to help?

If you have additional information about the DBF file, we will be grateful if you share it with our users. To do this, use the form here and send us your information on DBF file.

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