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Need to programatically convert binary files to text

Posted on 2013-01-28
Last Modified: 2013-02-04

We have a few gigs of binary files (full of plain text data) that we need to convert to text only files. Whats the easiest way to do this programatically.

to give you an idea of how we can do it manually - we can open each file in notepad and then "save as" a text file (before anyone asks, simply changing the extension does not do the trick). In case you are wondering why text files are being treated as binary - its the fault of our FTP process, since the files were originally uploaded as binary, they are saved as binay on our windows system.

Thanks in advance.
Question by:CodeWrangler
LVL 35

Accepted Solution

Robert Schutt earned 500 total points
ID: 38828430
There's a tool for this, try here: http://waterlan.home.xs4all.nl/dos2unix.html#UNIX2DOS
LVL 29

Expert Comment

ID: 38828920
Hmmm... Everything, any text is binary, eventually.

I believe that the encoding is ASCII, isn't it? Try to use




See a solution like:

LVL 55

Expert Comment

by:Jaime Olivares
ID: 38830113
What do you mean with 'saved as binary file' ?
If you can open them in Notepad, they are not binary.
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LVL 35

Assisted Solution

by:Robert Schutt
Robert Schutt earned 500 total points
ID: 38830155
I'm assuming it's a problem with line endings, hence my post. You could do it yourself in C# (replace LF with CR/LF) but it's a fairly common problem with a 'standard' solution (at least these kind of utilities are common on Unix/Linux). If the source OS is Mac you need a slightly different solution (I think, replace CR with CR/LF) but it could well be included in those tools, haven't checked.
LVL 55

Expert Comment

by:Jaime Olivares
ID: 38830169
If there is a CR/LF problem, I think there is no need to write a C# application. this can be done with a batch file. Here are some alternatives:
or you can use tool like:
LVL 10

Expert Comment

by:Monica P
ID: 38830210
LVL 35

Assisted Solution

by:Robert Schutt
Robert Schutt earned 500 total points
ID: 38830245
If you really want to, you could use a little console application like this (I only tested with a small file, use only on a copy of the files or after testing with a big file):
using System;
using System.Collections.Generic;
using System.Linq;
using System.Text;
using System.IO;

namespace EE_Q_28011639
    class Program
        const int bufsiz = 65536;

        const string strLE_Unix = "\n"; // LF
        const string strLE_Mac = "\r"; // CR

        static void Main(string[] args) {
            foreach (string fn in Directory.GetFiles(".", "*.txt", SearchOption.AllDirectories)) {
                try {
                    FileStream fs = File.OpenRead(fn);
                    byte[] fbi = new byte[fs.Length];
                    fs.Read(fbi, 0, fbi.Length);
                    fs = null;
                    string strLE = "";
                    for (int b = 0; b < fbi.Length; b += bufsiz) {
                        string tmp = Encoding.Default.GetString(fbi, b, Math.Min(bufsiz, fbi.Length - b));
                        if (b == 0) { // check first block for existing line endings
                            if (tmp.Contains(System.Environment.NewLine)) {
                                Console.WriteLine("Not converting file '{0}', CR/LF detected", fn);
                            } else if (tmp.Contains(strLE_Unix)) {
                                strLE = strLE_Unix;
                                Console.WriteLine("Converting unix file '{0}'", fn);
                            } else if (tmp.Contains(strLE_Mac)) {
                                strLE = strLE_Mac;
                                Console.WriteLine("Converting mac file '{0}'", fn);
                            } else {
                                Console.WriteLine("Not converting file '{0}', no line endings detected at all in first block", fn);
                            fs = File.OpenWrite(fn);
                        tmp = tmp.Replace(strLE, System.Environment.NewLine);
                        byte[] fbo = Encoding.Default.GetBytes(tmp);
                        fs.Write(fbo, 0, fbo.Length);
                    if (fs != null) {
                        fs = null;
                catch (Exception ex) {
                    Console.WriteLine("Error while processing file '{0}': {1}", fn, ex.Message);

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Author Closing Comment

ID: 38853065
awarding 3 posts from the same user because a combination of the posts got me where i needed to be.

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