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How to: Use Pointers to Copy an Array of Bytes (C# Programming Guide)

The following example uses pointers to copy bytes from one array to another.

This example uses the unsafe keyword, which enables you to use pointers in the Copy method. The fixed statement is used to declare pointers to the source and destination arrays. This pins the location of the source and destination arrays in memory so that they will not be moved by garbage collection. The memory blocks for the arrays are unpinned when the fixed block is completed. Because the Copy method in this example uses the unsafe keyword, it must be compiled with the /unsafe compiler option. To set the option in Visual Studio, right-click the project name, and then click Properties. On the Build tab, select Allow unsafe code.

// compile with: /unsafe
class TestCopy
{
    // The unsafe keyword allows pointers to be used in the following method. 

    static unsafe void Copy(byte[] source, int sourceOffset, byte[] target,
        int targetOffset, int count)
    {
        // If either array is not instantiated, you cannot complete the copy. 
        if ((source == null) || (target == null))
        {
            throw new System.ArgumentException();
        }

        // If either offset, or the number of bytes to copy, is negative, you 
        // cannot complete the copy. 
        if ((sourceOffset < 0) || (targetOffset < 0) || (count < 0))
        {
            throw new System.ArgumentException();
        }

        // If the number of bytes from the offset to the end of the array is  
        // less than the number of bytes you want to copy, you cannot complete 
        // the copy.  
        if ((source.Length - sourceOffset < count) ||
            (target.Length - targetOffset < count))
        {
            throw new System.ArgumentException();
        }

        // The following fixed statement pins the location of the source and 
        // target objects in memory so that they will not be moved by garbage 
        // collection. 
        fixed (byte* pSource = source, pTarget = target)
        {
            // Set the starting points in source and target for the copying. 
            byte* ps = pSource + sourceOffset;
            byte* pt = pTarget + targetOffset;

            // Copy the specified number of bytes from source to target. 
            for (int i = 0; i < count; i++)
            {
                *pt = *ps;
                pt++;
                ps++;
            }
        }
    }

    static void Main()
    {
        // Create two arrays of the same length. 
        int length = 100;
        byte[] byteArray1 = new byte[length];
        byte[] byteArray2 = new byte[length];

        // Fill byteArray1 with 0 - 99. 
        for (int i = 0; i < length; ++i)
        {
            byteArray1[i] = (byte)i;
        }

        // Display the first 10 elements in byteArray1.
        System.Console.WriteLine("The first 10 elements of the original are:");
        for (int i = 0; i < 10; ++i)
        {
            System.Console.Write(byteArray1[i] + " ");
        }
        System.Console.WriteLine("\n");

        // Copy the contents of byteArray1 to byteArray2.
        Copy(byteArray1, 0, byteArray2, 0, length);

        // Display the first 10 elements in the copy, byteArray2.
        System.Console.WriteLine("The first 10 elements of the copy are:");
        for (int i = 0; i < 10; ++i)
        {
            System.Console.Write(byteArray2[i] + " ");
        }
        System.Console.WriteLine("\n");

        // Copy the contents of the last 10 elements of byteArray1 to the  
        // beginning of byteArray2. 
        // The offset specifies where the copying begins in the source array. 
        int offset = length - 10;
        Copy(byteArray1, offset, byteArray2, 0, length - offset);

        // Display the first 10 elements in the copy, byteArray2.
        System.Console.WriteLine("The first 10 elements of the copy are:");
        for (int i = 0; i < 10; ++i)
        {
            System.Console.Write(byteArray2[i] + " ");
        }
        System.Console.WriteLine("\n");
    }
}
/* Output:
    The first 10 elements of the original are:
    0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

    The first 10 elements of the copy are:
    0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

    The first 10 elements of the copy are:
    90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99
*/
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