Alan Freedman -- The Computer Language Company - Computer Desktop Encyclopedia
Computer Desktop Encyclopedia
Longest-Running Tech Reference on the Planet

A CDE Definition

You'll love The Computer Desktop Encyclopedia (CDE) for Tech Term of the Day (TTOD)


binary safe

The capability of handling binary files. When software is not binary safe, it is designed to process only ASCII text. If binary files are introduced, they are either ignored or refused, but if accepted, their contents may become corrupted. See binary file.

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.

Personal Use Only

Before/After Your Search Term
binary file transferbinary search
binary formatbinary standard
binary large objectbinary synchronous
binary logicbinary transfer
binary maximum valuesbinary tree
binary modebinary values
binary notationbinary XML
binary numberbind
binary number maximumsBinder
binary numbersbindery

Terms By Topic
Click any of the following categories for a list of fundamental terms.
Computer Words You Gotta KnowSystem design
Job categoriesUnix/Linux
Interesting stuffPersonal computers
InternetIndustrial Automation/Process Control
Communications & networkingAssociations/Standards organizations
HistoryDesktop publishing
ProgrammingHealthcare IT
System design