Proprietary file formats – a real pain in the rear!

Well, I’ve never given it much of a thought but using a proprietary file format may be harmful to your mouse, keyboard and any other equipment lying around your system. This post was necessitated by somebody using a hitherto unknown(to me at least) proprietary file format to transfer some files, of which I was also a recipient. The files were all with a queer extension, .vem. I thought it could be an office format, but found it was not, much to my anguish. Then I called up those ever useful compression utilities, tar, gunzip, bzip, 7-Zip and WinRAR¬†which often come to one’s rescue in such cases. But even these nice fellows couldn’t comprehend the format, and told me it was either not at all an archive, or was a damaged archive.

Then began my quest. Went I to, and searched for this extension .VEM. I learnt it was used by Sony in their micro vault devices to save space by compressing data. Very clever, I’d say, but why use a proprietary format that no other device or software supports when you have many other formats, some of which are open source, to do the job. This is a major problem with hardware manufacturers. They expend useless(I’d say a damned waste of) time and money to create proprietary formats and software to use that format. And hey hold on, it doesn’t stop there. They make sure the software works only on their hardware, and also that no other software can access that file format. Phew, what a way to cheat customers!

I tried opening the file with every text editor and compression utility available, to no avail. The problem is that whenever a user drags a file from his computer’s hard disk to this demented device, it automatically compresses the file to save space. Now, if you copy back the file without using the decompression utility, you’re done for mate. The flash drives we normally use don’t need this kind of tedious labour from the user’s part, to decompress all files from the drive. This may have been a factor in users ignoring to decompress their files, but one cannot hold them to fault.

Thankfully, just as I was swearing at Sony for this indiscriminate use of proprietary formats, I stumbled on a link that pointed to a software that would decompress this format, without needing the micro vault (I’d call it a Velcro vault since the file format fastens itself only to this device) at all. Here’s the link for those who are stuck with the same problem:

Now, the agony doesn’t end here. The user interface of the software is created such that you can decompress only one file everytime you run it, so if you’ve got a helluva lot of files that I have, good luck! And it runs on wine too.

<Update!> I realised there is an easier way of doing things. First I tries the batch file way, but this tool does not seem to accept multiple files, so I took a detour from batch scripts. I modified the property of the .vem files to open with this tool. Do it by right clicking on a  VEM file, select Open With, click on Change button and a window appears. There, browse to the location of the tool on your hard disk. Click on OK button to close this window, and then Apply and OK buttons in the Properties window. Now, if you want to decompress many VEM files, search your PC for all files with .VEM in their name. In the list that appears, select all the files you want to decompress, open them by pressing the Enter key.

Be warned, though, that this may take a long long time, so I’d say switch off your monitor, and then take a walk in the garden or catch some news. When you return after some time, all the wretched VEM files would have been gone, leaving behind the meaningful data you really need. Sadly, this is windows only. For Linux, you can use wine and then maybe a script? Well, I deleted the vem files long back and I can’t try that for now.

5 thoughts on “Proprietary file formats – a real pain in the rear!

  1. Hey salva, i am sure this post will be damn usefull the whole lot of our class ppl. Guess all of us wud be stuck with this problem sooner or later..

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