Data file types

Data files are stored in a number of formats, the formats depend on which application created the file to begin with. For example, Microsoft Word stores files as *.doc but Adobe Photoshop stores files in a different format - *.psd. The file extension identifies the file's format.

Opening files of different formats

When data is transferred from one computer to another, the computer receiving the data file may not be able to read the format without the right application installed. For example, an image created in Adobe Photoshop and saved as a *.psd file (Photoshop's format) would not be readable by Microsoft Paint.

This is becoming less of a problem as standardisation matures and applications expand the list of file types they're able to read.

Laptop failing to open a photo file due to lack of relevant application
Glossary
  1. application A software program that allows a user to perform a specific task.
  2. attachment A file that is sent with an email.
  3. data Values, typically letters or numbers.
  4. desktop publishing An application that allows text and images to be laid out on a page.
  5. downloading To copy a file from the internet onto your computer or device.
  6. email Electronic mail. A method for sending messages and files to other people.
  7. export To send data out of an application in a file format that can be read by another.
  8. import To load a file into a software application from another version or system.
  9. instant messenger An application that allows users to send instant messages (text) to one another.
  10. internet A global network connecting millions of computers.
  11. internet connection A connection to the internet by a computer or another internet-enabled device.
  12. network A group of interconnected computers.
  13. operating system The software that manages the hardware and software resources in a computer system.
  14. pdf Portable Document Format (PDF): a file format developed by Adobe in an effort to standardise the way documents were shared.
  15. program Sequences of instructions for a computer.
  16. RAM Random Access Memory (RAM): Memory that is constantly being written to and read from. It does not retain its contents without a constant supply of power, eg when a computer is turned off, everything stored in its RAM is lost.
  17. RSS Rich site summary - a method for delivering website updates to a user without the user having to visit the website itself. Often called really simple syndication.
  18. spreadsheet A piece of software used to manipulate data, often used in modelling.
  19. web The complete set of all web pages and documents held on every internet server. Also known as the world wide web.
  20. web browser An application that displays web pages.
  21. web server A computer that serves web pages to users.
  22. website A web page or group of web pages hosted on one web server and viewed in a web browser, usually maintained by a person, group or organisation.
  23. word processor An application used to write, edit and format text.
  24. XML eXtensible Markup Language (XML): a general-purpose specification for creating custom markup languages.
  25. zip A file format that takes an existing file or files and compresses them into a single file of a smaller size.