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SerialPort.ReadExisting Method

Reads all immediately available bytes, based on the encoding, in both the stream and the input buffer of the SerialPort object.

Namespace:  System.IO.Ports
Assembly:  System (in System.dll)

public string ReadExisting()

Return Value

Type: System.String
The contents of the stream and the input buffer of the SerialPort object.


The specified port is not open.

This method returns the contents of the stream and internal buffer of the SerialPort object as a string. This method does not use a time-out. Note that this method can leave trailing lead bytes in the internal buffer, which makes the BytesToRead value greater than zero.

If it is necessary to switch between reading text and reading binary data from the stream, select a protocol that carefully defines the boundary between text and binary data, such as manually reading bytes and decoding the data.


The SerialPort class buffers data, but the stream object contained in the SerialPort.BaseStream property does not. Therefore, the SerialPort object and the stream object might differ on the number of bytes that are available to read. When bytes are buffered to the SerialPort object, the BytesToRead property includes these bytes in its value; however, these bytes might not be accessible to the stream contained in the BaseStream property.

.NET Framework

Supported in: 4, 3.5, 3.0, 2.0

.NET Framework Client Profile

Supported in: 4, 3.5 SP1

Windows 7, Windows Vista SP1 or later, Windows XP SP3, Windows XP SP2 x64 Edition, Windows Server 2008 (Server Core not supported), Windows Server 2008 R2 (Server Core supported with SP1 or later), Windows Server 2003 SP2

The .NET Framework does not support all versions of every platform. For a list of the supported versions, see .NET Framework System Requirements.