binary file

Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Financial, Wikipedia.
Related to binary file: Binary file editor

binary file

[′bīn·ə·rē ′fīl]
(computer science)
A computer program in machine language that can be directly executed by the computer.

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.

binary file

A computer file format in which each character position can hold any one of 256 different binary codes. Binary files are contrasted to "ASCII files," which contain a smaller set of codes for only alphabetic letters, numeric digits, special symbols and a few control codes. Binary files can contain ASCII and many more codes because they use all eight bits of the byte, whereas ASCII files use only seven bits, which limits the possible combinations.

Executable software (machine language programs), most word processing files and 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, not binary.

Attachments Must Be Encoded
The binary vs. ASCII distinction is made when attaching files via email. The Internet's SMTP mail protocol supports only ASCII. When binary files are attached to email messages, their 8-bit format is converted into a temporary 7-bit format to pass through mail servers, especially older ones. 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.
References in periodicals archive ?
It is a shareware package that does a good job of encoding and decoding binary files into/from the four most popular formats used on the Internet.
Since UseNet and e-mail were only able to transmit ASCII files, there had to be some intermediary steps before binary files could be sent over the network.
of Binary File, who stayed on strongly for second after working his way past the favourite.
Former Cambridgeshire favourite Binary File, winner of a Listed race at York earlier in the month, was ruled out of the race by owner Khalid Abdullah's racing manager Teddy Beckett after finishing a disappointing fourth at Newbury on Friday.
Nasdaq:SUNW) today announced the formation of a working group to develop a binary file format encoding for X3D(R), the open standard for communication of real-time 3D data, which is now in the final stages of ratification by the International Standards Organization (ISO).
Binary File, who finished fourth, was ruled out of the Cambridgeshire by owner Khalid Abdullah's racing manager Teddy Beckett.
Helix Core made it possible to manage our large binary files, said Martin Klma, Executive Producer at Warhorse Studios and long-time advocate of Agile workflows and Continuous Delivery.
After an introduction to Scala, it covers the basics of object-orientation and software development, object-orientation in Scala, abstraction and polymorphism, GUIs (graphical user interfaces) and graphics, other collection types, stacks and queues, multithreading and concurrency, low-level multithreading and Java libraries, stream input/output and XML, networking, linked lists, priority queues, refactoring, recursion, trees, regular expressions and context-free parsers, binary heaps, direct access binary files, spatial trees, augmenting trees, and hash tables.
In a proof-of-concept experiment conducted in 2012, George Church - a molecular biologist at Harvard - encoded a 50,000-word book, which occupied less than a megabyte, into DNA by translating the binary files into strings of the four nucleotides.
The new version delivers significant new features including the import of TFS projects and users, multiple authors per review, initial reviews, binary files support, and much more.
of San Francisco) explains how to use it to read, process, execute, or translate structured text or binary files.
Using the SMSC, a wide variety of text, multimedia, and binary files can be sent at various intervals to stress the device, and ensure performance and compliance.