How to: Read From Binary Files in Visual Basic


Updated: July 20, 2015

For the latest documentation on Visual Studio 2017, see Visual Studio 2017 Documentation.

The My.Computer.FileSystem object provides the ReadAllBytes method for reading from binary files.

To read from a binary file

  • Use the ReadAllBytes method, which returns the contents of a file as a byte array. This example reads from the file C:/Documents and Settings/selfportrait.jpg.

            Dim bytes = My.Computer.FileSystem.ReadAllBytes(
                          "C:/Documents and Settings/selfportrait.jpg")
            PictureBox1.Image = Image.FromStream(New IO.MemoryStream(bytes))

  • For large binary files, you can use the Read method of the FileStream object to read from the file only a specified amount at a time. You can then limit how much of the file is loaded into memory for each read operation. The following code example copies a file and allows the caller to specify how much of the file is read into memory per read operation.

        ' This method does not trap for exceptions. If an exception is 
        ' encountered opening the file to be copied or writing to the 
        ' destination location, then the exception will be thrown to 
        ' the requestor.
        Public Sub CopyBinaryFile(ByVal path As String,
                                  ByVal copyPath As String,
                                  ByVal bufferSize As Integer,
                                  ByVal overwrite As Boolean)
            Dim inputFile = IO.File.Open(path, IO.FileMode.Open)
            If overwrite AndAlso My.Computer.FileSystem.FileExists(copyPath) Then
            End If
            ' Adjust array length for VB array declaration.
            Dim bytes = New Byte(bufferSize - 1) {}
            While inputFile.Read(bytes, 0, bufferSize) > 0
                My.Computer.FileSystem.WriteAllBytes(copyPath, bytes, True)
            End While
        End Sub

The following conditions may cause an exception to be thrown:

Do not make decisions about the contents of the file based on the name of the file. For example, the file Form1.vb may not be a Visual Basic source file.

Verify all inputs before using the data in your application. The contents of the file may not be what is expected, and methods to read from the file may fail.

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