binary file

(redirected from Binary files)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus.

binary file

[′bīn·ə·rē ′fīl]
(computer science)
A computer program in machine language that can be directly executed by the computer.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

binary file

(file format)
Any file format for digital data that does not consist of a sequence of printable characters (text). The term is often used for executable machine code.

All digital data, including characters, is actually binary data (unless it uses some (rare) system with more than two discrete levels) but the distinction between binary and text is well established. On modern operating systems a text file is simply a binary file that happens to contain only printable characters, but some older systems distinguish the two file types, requiring programs to handle them differently.

A common class of binary files is programs in machine language ("executable files") ready to load into memory and execute. Binary files may also be used to store data output by a program, and intended to be read by that or another program but not by humans. Binary files are more efficient for this purpose because the data (e.g. numerical data) does not need to be converted between the binary form used by the CPU and a printable (ASCII) representation. The disadvantage is that it is usually necessary to write special purpose programs to manipulate such files since most general purpose utilities operate on text files. There is also a problem sharing binary numerical data between processors with different endianness.

Some communications protocols handle only text files, e.g. most electronic mail systems before MIME became widespread in about 1995. The FTP utility must be put into "binary" mode in order to copy a binary file since in its default "ascii" mode translates between the different newline characters used on the sending and receiving computers.

Confusingly, some word processor files, and rich text files, are actually binary files because they contain non-printable characters and require special programs to view, edit and print them.
This article is provided by FOLDOC - Free Online Dictionary of Computing (

binary file

A computer file format in which all eight bits of the byte are used for data. Executable software (machine language programs), most word processing, database, spreadsheet and multimedia files are binary files. However, text and source program files as well as HTML and XML files are ASCII text files, just plain text, not binary.

Attachments Must Be Encoded
The binary vs. ASCII distinction is made when attaching files via email. The Internet's SMTP mail protocol only supported seven of the eight bits because ASCII text was originally a seven-bit format, and email was only text in the beginning. Although most mail servers today are capable of supporting eight bits, older mail servers may not have been upgraded.

As a result, when binary files are attached to email messages, their 8-bit format is converted into a temporary 7-bit format. Encoding formats such as MIME, UUcoding and BinHex are used, and at the receiving end, they convert the 7-bit code back into 8-bit binary files. The 8-bit to 7-bit conversion makes attached files larger as they traverse the Internet. See binary, byte and ASCII.
Copyright © 1981-2019 by The Computer Language Company Inc. All Rights reserved. THIS DEFINITION IS FOR PERSONAL USE ONLY. All other reproduction is strictly prohibited without permission from the publisher.
References in periodicals archive ?
Therefore, the format of the binary file needs to be converted.
The primary outcome of this study is the fact that use of packers and obfuscators still leaves some footprints in binary files which can be used to identify the authors.
When run, the tool extracts seven key attributes from every analysed binary file and compares them to data obtained by running the J48, J48 Graft, PART, and Ridor machine-learning algorithms on a set of 100,000 malicious programs and 16,000 clean ones, Raman said.
The program representation contained in Slim Binary files consists of a compact description of the symbol table and a syntax-oriented encoding of the abstract syntax tree that is based on a technique called Semantic Dictionary Encoding (SDE).
2, a Windows grep tool that lets you quickly search through any number of text and binary files for words, phrases, and strings.
In my experience, some BBs don't allow binary files to be uploaded and you'll only find out when you try it - and get hundreds of flamers from those who hate people posting binaries to non-binary groups.
It can search single files; entire drives; plaintext files, such as HTML; and binary files, such as word-processing and spreadsheet documents.
The software searches for words or phrases in plain text files, binary files and in files archived inside zip files.
For transferring email over networks that use TP, the SMTP and MIME have emerged as complementary standards, and MIME for "rich" message content such as formatted text, voice, and binary files. For voice and fax interchange over the Internet, there is the Voice Profile for Internet Mail (VPIM), created by the cross-industry EMA, which is rapidly gaining acceptance.
Customers wanting to integrate spreadsheets, video clips, still images, sound bites or other binary files into their relational data bases can now do so, and they can do it in two ways.