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I have a DAT file which I generated using the backup feature of Bitcoin Core, I think. I'm not sure if it's possible ***to get Bitcoin Core to import the file so that it becomes a hot wallet.

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Yes - from the bitcoin wiki:

"The original Bitcoin client stores private key information in a file named wallet.dat following the so called "bitkeys" format.

It contains:

keypairs for each of your addresses transactions done from/to your addresses user preferences default key reserve keys accounts a version number Key pool Since 0.3.21: information about the current best chain, to be able to rescan automatically when restoring from a backup. The wallet.dat file is located in the Bitcoin data directory.

It is intended that a wallet file be used on only one installation of Bitcoin at a time. Attempting to clone a wallet file for use on multiple computers will result in "weird behavior"[1].

The format of this file is Berkeley DB. Tools that can manipulate wallet files include pywallet."

Also, there is a tool for viewing these files directly; https://code.google.com/archive/p/bdbvu/

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