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Character Stream Vs Byte Stream in Java

A stream is a way of sequentially accessing a file. In Streams you can process the data one at a time as bulk operations are unavailable with them. But, streams supports a huge range of source and destinations including disk file, arrays, other devices, other programs etc. In Java, a byte is not the same thing as a char . Therefore a byte stream is different from a character stream. So, Java defines two types of streams: Byte Streams and Character Streams .

Byte Streams

A byte stream access the file byte by byte. Java programs use byte streams to perform input and output of 8-bit bytes. It is suitable for any kind of file, however not quite appropriate for text files. For example, if the file is using a unicode encoding and a character is represented with two bytes, the byte stream will treat these separately and you will need to do the conversion yourself. Byte oriented streams do not use any encoding scheme while Character oriented streams use character encoding scheme(UNICODE). All byte stream classes are descended from InputStream and OutputStream .


Character Streams

A character stream will read a file character by character. Character Stream is a higher level concept than Byte Stream . A Character Stream is, effectively, a Byte Stream that has been wrapped with logic that allows it to output characters from a specific encoding . That means, a character stream needs to be given the file's encoding in order to work properly. Character stream can support all types of character sets ASCII, Unicode, UTF-8, UTF-16 etc. All character stream classes are descended from Reader and Writer .

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