A file bearing the extension .dbf is most commonly associated with dBase, a database creation and management tool from dataBased Intelligence, Inc. The dBase data structure is considered the standard for databases throughout the world. In this format, multiple records are stored together with the various field categories grouped by type. For example, a .dbf with 100 different customer records will group the customer names together, as well as addresses, phone numbers, etc., all in separate groupings. This allows for efficient searches and queries as well as keeping data loss risks at a minimum. The dbase standard has evolved over the years and is also known generically as xbase. Any xbase compliant software can open and utilize the .dbf file.
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The original dBase software is still in production and will obviously have no problem opening these files. In addition, Open Office, Microsoft FoxPro, Sage's ACT! customer management software, FlagShip from Multisoft, and GTK DBF Editor are all xbase compliant programs that can access .dbf files for editing. The CA Clipper compiler is used by database developers to write and compile code for xbase systems and can also access the .dbf file.
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More Info Regarding File Extension Dbf
Dozens of other programs categorized as .dbf viewers are readily available. Some are freeware or shareware products, others are commercial products. These readers are generally not as feature rich as the full fledged data base management software, but they do allow the user to open and edit a standard .dbf file. Examples of these readers include DBFView, DBF Viewer 2000, DBF Viewer Plus, LSI DBF Viewer Pro, CDBF, and Paradox Dbase Manager.
Data corruption can occur in a .dbf file due to sudden power failure while the database is open, or system freezes caused by another process. In this case, a user will attempt to open a corrupted file and instead see an error message indicating that the file is not a database file. If these errors do occur the file is often rendered unreadable, but there are software products available to repair a corrupted file. These repair tools compare the database headers and the various category entries, filling in missing data. While there is no perfect repair tool available, most do an excellent job of recovering a significant amount of corrupt data.
DBF Doctor is a tool from Astersoft that aids users in repairing databases and recovering data. It has both an automated mode and a manual mode, giving the user total control over the process. In addition, DBFRecovery, Advanced DBF Repair, Repair DBF File, and Kernel for DBF are all commercial tools for recovery and repair of corrupted .dbf files.
Errors have been reported by users attempting to use the .dbf database files with Microsoft Access. Access seems to have trouble recognizing long character fields of more than 255 characters. In some cases Access simply cannot read the file, in other cases its attempt at reading can damage the file. A program like DBF to MDB can convert the .dbf file to the Access format without any loss of data.
The .dbf extension is also associated with a handful of other specialized software application. Abacus Law is a practice management package designed for law firms and others in the legal profession. Although this software is specialized for its industry, the output data files are essentially standard database files. If a user knows what to do with the data, a .dbf viewer could be used to open and edit the files. Another application in this category is ArcView Shapefile. This is an application which creates, manages, displays, and analyzes geographical data for maps, GPS systems, and the like. The .dbf files this program utilizes contain the text and numercial data needed for a project, but are not useful on their own. Other supporting files with graphics, vector drawings, map overlays,etc. are all combined to properly render the shapefile. If data corruption occurs in the .dbf, it is possible for it to be recovered using one of the tools listed above.