Common File types and their Formats

In this blog, I will talk about different common file types and their formats. File type is the default format of data files of any application. On Windows systems, a file’s type is specified by its extension, which is a code (usually three characters) that follows the filename, separated by a period, like myfile.txt in which “.txt” is the extension. In other Operating systems, the file type is determined by the OS looking inside the file for that information, so a file’s extension, if it has one, is not a reliable way to determine a file’s actual type. There can be huge numbers of file types and their formats but mostly common file types which we come across can be the followings.

  • Executable Formats
  • Compression Formats
  • Audio and Video Formats
  • Image Formats
  • Document Formats

The following figure shows some of the file formats used today.

Figure: Some Common types of File Formats

Let’s look one by one and their examples with descriptions.

Executable Formats

Files that run programs are known as executables. These files run and install upon clicking or through proper commands. An executable can be part of the OS itself, an application, or an installation package. The following table lists some common executable formats that are mostly used.

Table: Different Common Executable Formats

Compression Formats

Groups of files can be compressed and combined into a single compressed archive file, which makes the group of files easier to distribute and transport. For example, suppose I want to send ten picture files to someone. I can attach all ten files separately to an e-mail, but it would be better to create a single compressed archive file that holds all of them and send it easily.

There are different types of compression files like .zip (the default compressed file in Windows) and many more in other platforms. Some of the common types of compression file formats and their purposes are shown in the following table.

Table: Common Compression file formats and their purposes

Audio and Video Formats

Usually, files containing audio (such as voice recordings, music, or audio books) and video (movies, music videos, presentations, TV shows, and so on) are often referred to as media clips. We can download some media clips and then play them, and we can also play streaming media through cloud computing like SoundCloud etc.

The playback software (which plays the clips) must have a codec installed for each format it supports. Codec stands for “compressor-decompressor,” and it refers to the encoding and decoding of the clips. The following table shows most common file types of the Audio and Video Formats and their purposes.

Table: Different Audio and Video Formats and their purposes

Image Formats

Files that store still images, like photos, drawings etc are called image formats. There are different types of image formats depending on their uses. Some of the common image formats use today are shown in the following table with their purposes.

Table: Different Image formats and their purposes

Document Formats

These formats include various types of text files, spreadsheets, presentations, and page layouts and all types of data files that we create in business-oriented applications. The following Table shows different formats of Document files and their purposes.

Table: Different Document Formats and their purposes

This was all about different types of common formats which we see today. I hope you have enjoyed the readings.

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