Binary File

A binary file is a file stored in binary format. A binary file is computer-readable but not human-readable. All executable programs are stored in binary files, as are most numeric data files. In contrast, text files are stored in a form (usually ASCII) that is human-readable.

How are binary files used?

The binary file is the most common type of computer file, and it can be found on all types of computers, including Windows PCs, Macs, Linux systems, and mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. Binary files are also known as executable files or object code

Binary files are also known as executable files because they contain instructions for a computer to execute. Examples of binary files include Microsoft Word documents (.doc), Adobe PDFs (.pdf), MP3 music files (.mp3), and Java applets (.class). The advantage of using binary files is that they can be sent over the Internet more quickly than text-based or other types of non-binary files.

Binary files are used for storing data in a non-textual format. They contain instructions that tell a computer how to perform specific tasks when they’re executed by an application program.  The word “binary” refers to the way data are represented. That is, all information in a computer is stored according to numeric codes that computers can read and understand.

How do binary files work?

These codes (also referred to as binaries) fall into basically two categories: binary or number base 2; hexadecimal or base 16. Binary code includes only 1s and 0s – on/off electrical pulses which have no differentiation between each other and so must be translated into understandable symbols like individual letters of the alphabet, words, figures etc. This translation process can also make it difficult to label with numbers because there would simply not be enough different words available to do so – instead, people create systems for converting say abbreviations back into their assigned full form (for example 1BLG0B could be converted back after being broken down using an algorithm to IglooBlue).

Binary file formats in computers include data written in the raw form according to 0s and 1s. The main reason for using a binary coded language is that human beings are more comfortable with characters like ‘A, B, C…’, rather than 0s and 1s. The binary format became increasingly popular as hard disks exceeded 20 gigabytes (GBs), which limit the total storage capacity of FAT32 filesystem type used by most Windows users. 

What are binary files’ capabilities?

These formats compress large amounts of information into small packages so they can be easily transmitted over networks like the Internet without taking up lots of hard drive space. A sound file might use MP3 (MPEG Audio Layer 3), WAV (Waveform Audio File Format) or AU (Audio Units) compression techniques to reduce its size while maintaining high audio quality.

In addition to containing executable instructions, binary files may also store other kinds of data such as images or sounds. For example, digital cameras create image files in the form of binary data that’s stored within JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group) or TIFF (Tagged Image File Format) formats;



Web Webster
Web Webster
Web Webster has more than 20 years of writing and editorial experience in the tech sector. He’s written and edited news, demand generation, user-focused, and thought leadership content for business software solutions, consumer tech, and healthcare, as well as Dotdash’s In addition to editing, he edits and writes for a portfolio of tech industry news and analysis websites including, and
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