Files that contain the .DBF file extension are files that are associated with a database structure. DBF files are typically related to the dBASE database management system which was later changed to dataBased Intelligence. Since there has never been a unified standard for database management, dBASE files were originally used to address this dilemma with the initial inception of Apple computers and DOS, the forerunner to the Windows operating system.
DBASE was later changed to dBASE II and then to dBASE IV with the implementation of Structured Query Language (SQL) database design. In recent years, the source code has become a programming language used in the creation of DBF files which contain header records that define the DBF file structure and data records with the actual text and information to be used in a database.
How to Open DBF Files
For the reasons described above, it can be difficult to open a DBF file without a compatible database program. Since the DBF format has been through so many different transitions, the file association can easily get confused, especially if you are using more than one database program.
The easiest solution to opening DBF files is to have a compatible program installed such as dBASE or FoxPro. However, if this is not possible, there are a few other options you can try to open and view such files.
The first option is to try and open the DBF file in a program such as Microsoft Excel or OpenOffice Spreadsheet. Excel is a member of the MS Office suite of applications and Spreadsheet is part of OpenOffice, which can be downloaded at no cost from OpenOffice.org. If you have Microsoft Access installed, this program may be helpful as well.
In the event you have more than one database program installed, the DBF file association must be configured to work with the program you want to use to open .DBF file extensions. If you do not understand these extensions, you should enlist the help of someone who is knowledgeable in descriptor files and dBASE file structure.
If you are using the Windows operating system, you can also try installing compatible database programs such as Multisoft FlagShip or GTK DBF Editor. For the Linux operating system you can also use GTK DBF Editor to open and view DBF files.
There are also several conversion programs available that you can use to open DBF files. The programs include DKS DBF to HTML Converter, DBF Converter, DBF to MDB Access, and ABC Amber DBF Converter.
It is also important to mention that DBF files can be associated with FoxPro Table, and in this case you could try opening DBF files using Visual FoxPro or Advanced Database Recovery.