Opening a File for Reading or Writing

The CreateFile function can create a new file or open an existing file. You must specify the file name, creation instructions, and other attributes. When an application creates a new file, the operating system adds it to the specified directory.

Example: Open a File for Writing

The following example uses CreateFile to create a new file and open it for writing and WriteFile to write a simple string synchronously to the file.

A subsequent call to open this file with CreateFile will fail until the handle is closed.


#include <windows.h>
#include <tchar.h>
#include <stdio.h>
#include <strsafe.h>

void DisplayError(LPTSTR lpszFunction);

void __cdecl _tmain(int argc, TCHAR *argv[])
{
    HANDLE hFile; 
    char DataBuffer[] = "This is some test data to write to the file.";
    DWORD dwBytesToWrite = (DWORD)strlen(DataBuffer);
    DWORD dwBytesWritten = 0;
    BOOL bErrorFlag = FALSE;

    printf("\n");
    if( argc != 2 )
    {
        printf("Usage Error:\tIncorrect number of arguments\n\n");
        _tprintf(TEXT("%s <file_name>\n"), argv[0]);
        return;
    }

    hFile = CreateFile(argv[1],                // name of the write
                       GENERIC_WRITE,          // open for writing
                       0,                      // do not share
                       NULL,                   // default security
                       CREATE_NEW,             // create new file only
                       FILE_ATTRIBUTE_NORMAL,  // normal file
                       NULL);                  // no attr. template

    if (hFile == INVALID_HANDLE_VALUE) 
    { 
        DisplayError(TEXT("CreateFile"));
        _tprintf(TEXT("Terminal failure: Unable to open file \"%s\" for write.\n"), argv[1]);
        return;
    }

    _tprintf(TEXT("Writing %d bytes to %s.\n"), dwBytesToWrite, argv[1]);

    bErrorFlag = WriteFile( 
                    hFile,           // open file handle
                    DataBuffer,      // start of data to write
                    dwBytesToWrite,  // number of bytes to write
                    &dwBytesWritten, // number of bytes that were written
                    NULL);            // no overlapped structure

    if (FALSE == bErrorFlag)
    {
        DisplayError(TEXT("WriteFile"));
        printf("Terminal failure: Unable to write to file.\n");
    }
    else
    {
        if (dwBytesWritten != dwBytesToWrite)
        {
            // This is an error because a synchronous write that results in
            // success (WriteFile returns TRUE) should write all data as
            // requested. This would not necessarily be the case for
            // asynchronous writes.
            printf("Error: dwBytesWritten != dwBytesToWrite\n");
        }
        else
        {
            _tprintf(TEXT("Wrote %d bytes to %s successfully.\n"), dwBytesWritten, argv[1]);
        }
    }

    CloseHandle(hFile);
}

void DisplayError(LPTSTR lpszFunction) 
// Routine Description:
// Retrieve and output the system error message for the last-error code
{ 
    LPVOID lpMsgBuf;
    LPVOID lpDisplayBuf;
    DWORD dw = GetLastError(); 

    FormatMessage(
        FORMAT_MESSAGE_ALLOCATE_BUFFER | 
        FORMAT_MESSAGE_FROM_SYSTEM |
        FORMAT_MESSAGE_IGNORE_INSERTS,
        NULL,
        dw,
        MAKELANGID(LANG_NEUTRAL, SUBLANG_DEFAULT),
        (LPTSTR) &lpMsgBuf,
        0, 
        NULL );

    lpDisplayBuf = 
        (LPVOID)LocalAlloc( LMEM_ZEROINIT, 
                            ( lstrlen((LPCTSTR)lpMsgBuf)
                              + lstrlen((LPCTSTR)lpszFunction)
                              + 40) // account for format string
                            * sizeof(TCHAR) );
    
    if (FAILED( StringCchPrintf((LPTSTR)lpDisplayBuf, 
                     LocalSize(lpDisplayBuf) / sizeof(TCHAR),
                     TEXT("%s failed with error code %d as follows:\n%s"), 
                     lpszFunction, 
                     dw, 
                     lpMsgBuf)))
    {
        printf("FATAL ERROR: Unable to output error code.\n");
    }
    
    _tprintf(TEXT("ERROR: %s\n"), (LPCTSTR)lpDisplayBuf);

    LocalFree(lpMsgBuf);
    LocalFree(lpDisplayBuf);


Example: Open a File for Reading

The following example uses CreateFile to open an existing file for reading and ReadFile to read up to 80 characters synchronously from the file.

In this case, CreateFile succeeds only if the specified file already exists in the current directory. A subsequent call to open this file with CreateFile will succeed if the call uses the same access and sharing modes.

Tip: You can use the file you created with the previous WriteFile example to test this example.


#include <windows.h>
#include <tchar.h>
#include <stdio.h>
#include <strsafe.h>

#define BUFFERSIZE 5
DWORD g_BytesTransferred = 0;

void DisplayError(LPTSTR lpszFunction);

VOID CALLBACK FileIOCompletionRoutine(
  __in  DWORD dwErrorCode,
  __in  DWORD dwNumberOfBytesTransfered,
  __in  LPOVERLAPPED lpOverlapped
);

VOID CALLBACK FileIOCompletionRoutine(
  __in  DWORD dwErrorCode,
  __in  DWORD dwNumberOfBytesTransfered,
  __in  LPOVERLAPPED lpOverlapped )
 {
  _tprintf(TEXT("Error code:\t%x\n"), dwErrorCode);
  _tprintf(TEXT("Number of bytes:\t%x\n"), dwNumberOfBytesTransfered);
  g_BytesTransferred = dwNumberOfBytesTransfered;
 }

//
// Note: this simplified sample assumes the file to read is an ANSI text file
// only for the purposes of output to the screen. CreateFile and ReadFile
// do not use parameters to differentiate between text and binary file types.
//

void __cdecl _tmain(int argc, TCHAR *argv[])
{
    HANDLE hFile; 
    DWORD  dwBytesRead = 0;
    char   ReadBuffer[BUFFERSIZE] = {0};
    OVERLAPPED ol = {0};

    printf("\n");
    if( argc != 2 )
    {
        printf("Usage Error: Incorrect number of arguments\n\n");
        _tprintf(TEXT("Usage:\n\t%s <text_file_name>\n"), argv[0]);
        return;
    }

    hFile = CreateFile(argv[1],               // file to open
                       GENERIC_READ,          // open for reading
                       FILE_SHARE_READ,       // share for reading
                       NULL,                  // default security
                       OPEN_EXISTING,         // existing file only
                       FILE_ATTRIBUTE_NORMAL | FILE_FLAG_OVERLAPPED, // normal file
                       NULL);                 // no attr. template
 
    if (hFile == INVALID_HANDLE_VALUE) 
    { 
        DisplayError(TEXT("CreateFile"));
        _tprintf(TEXT("Terminal failure: unable to open file \"%s\" for read.\n"), argv[1]);
        return; 
    }

    // Read one character less than the buffer size to save room for
    // the terminating NULL character. 

    if( FALSE == ReadFileEx(hFile, ReadBuffer, BUFFERSIZE-1, &ol, FileIOCompletionRoutine) )
    {
        DisplayError(TEXT("ReadFile"));
        printf("Terminal failure: Unable to read from file.\n GetLastError=%08x\n", GetLastError());
        CloseHandle(hFile);
        return;
    }
    SleepEx(5000, TRUE);
    dwBytesRead = g_BytesTransferred;
    // This is the section of code that assumes the file is ANSI text. 
    // Modify this block for other data types if needed.

    if (dwBytesRead > 0 && dwBytesRead <= BUFFERSIZE-1)
    {
        ReadBuffer[dwBytesRead]='\0'; // NULL character

        _tprintf(TEXT("Data read from %s (%d bytes): \n"), argv[1], dwBytesRead);
        printf("%s\n", ReadBuffer);
    }
    else if (dwBytesRead == 0)
    {
        _tprintf(TEXT("No data read from file %s\n"), argv[1]);
    }
    else
    {
        printf("\n ** Unexpected value for dwBytesRead ** \n");
    }

    // It is always good practice to close the open file handles even though
    // the app will exit here and clean up open handles anyway.
    
    CloseHandle(hFile);
}

void DisplayError(LPTSTR lpszFunction) 
// Routine Description:
// Retrieve and output the system error message for the last-error code
{ 
    LPVOID lpMsgBuf;
    LPVOID lpDisplayBuf;
    DWORD dw = GetLastError(); 

    FormatMessage(
        FORMAT_MESSAGE_ALLOCATE_BUFFER | 
        FORMAT_MESSAGE_FROM_SYSTEM |
        FORMAT_MESSAGE_IGNORE_INSERTS,
        NULL,
        dw,
        MAKELANGID(LANG_NEUTRAL, SUBLANG_DEFAULT),
        (LPTSTR) &lpMsgBuf,
        0, 
        NULL );

    lpDisplayBuf = 
        (LPVOID)LocalAlloc( LMEM_ZEROINIT, 
                            ( lstrlen((LPCTSTR)lpMsgBuf)
                              + lstrlen((LPCTSTR)lpszFunction)
                              + 40) // account for format string
                            * sizeof(TCHAR) );
    
    if (FAILED( StringCchPrintf((LPTSTR)lpDisplayBuf, 
                     LocalSize(lpDisplayBuf) / sizeof(TCHAR),
                     TEXT("%s failed with error code %d as follows:\n%s"), 
                     lpszFunction, 
                     dw, 
                     lpMsgBuf)))
    {
        printf("FATAL ERROR: Unable to output error code.\n");
    }
    
    _tprintf(TEXT("ERROR: %s\n"), (LPCTSTR)lpDisplayBuf);

    LocalFree(lpMsgBuf);
    LocalFree(lpDisplayBuf);
}



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Creating and Opening Files

 

 

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