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I would like to take a look inside fee_estimates.dat to understand a bit better how the RPC command estimatesmartfee works. However, when I open the file in a text editor, the content is not readable.

Is there a way to read the information inside fee_estimates.dat?

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You need to take a look at how fee_estimates.dat is written and interpreted. It is a binary file composed of:

MIN_VERSION
CURRENT_VERSION
CURRENT_TIP
TIP_AT_LAST_START
TIP_AT_LAST_STOP
[ESTIMATES]
[STATS]

With CURRENT being "when writing", i.e. when stopping bitcoind.

Here is the method writing the file, and here is the method reading this file (at startup). I think the latter can help you to parse it.

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