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Lesson 11 - Binary files in C#

Throughout this course, we've already mentioned several ways to store data (or instances if possible) into files. Whether it was the CSV or XML format, we have always technically worked with text files. In today's tutorial, we're going to introduce you to a different way of storing data and talk about its advantages and disadvantages.

Binary files

So far, we always converted data types to strings and saved them to a text file. When we read the data back again, we had to parse it from the string back to the original data type. However, we aren't limited to storing data as text into files. Today, we'll go over storing data into binary files.

As you already know, variables are stored in the computer's RAM memory. Physically, we can imagine the memory as a really long line of "boxes" with either a zero or a one in each box. The individual elements in the boxes are bits. We usually don't work with bits individually but by 8 at a time. Sets of eight bits are known as bytes (1 byte = 8 bits). Each .NET data type occupies a certain number of bytes in memory. For example, int occupies 4 (a total of 32 zeros and ones). It doesn't matter whether there is a value of 0 or a million stored inside, it always has 4 bytes reserved in memory. If we need to store a variable of the int type in a file, we simply


 

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This tutorial introduces you to binary files and the BinaryWriter and BinaryReader classes. We'll learn to read and write instances in binary in C# .NET.

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Article has been written for you by David Capka
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The author is a programmer, who likes web technologies and being the lead/chief article writer at ICT.social. He shares his knowledge with the community and is always looking to improve. He believes that anyone can do what they set their mind to.
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