What is The Difference Between ASCII and BINARY?

Posted on October 23rd, 2015


There are two different communication formats that are available when sending PostScript files from a Mac based system. They are ASCII and Binary. You can upload text and CGI documents in ASCII mode and mages, sounds etc. should be uploaded in BINARY mode. Which means, Ascii mode transfers files as ‘text’.   Examples of ASCII files would be .txt, .asp, .html, and. php files where Binary mode transfers files as raw data. Examples of binary files would be .wav, .jpg, .gif, and mp3 files…



ASCII stands for American Standard Code for Information Interchange. A coded character set consisting of 128 7-bit characters. There are 32 control characters, 94 graphic characters, the space character, and the delete character. The ASCII protocol is made up of data that is encoded in ASCII values with minimal control codes added. The control codes that are added are interpreted by the printer. Parallel, Serial, and Ethernet medium all support ASCII communication and consider it to be the standard. All computer files are comprised of tiny pieces of information, called bits. In an ASCII file, each byte directly correlates to a specific character as defined by the standard ASCII code. A common example of an ASCII file is a text document created without any formatting, such as font styles or paragraph indentations. An ASCII file is a binary file that stores ASCII codes. There are 128 different ASCII codes; this means that only 7 bits are needed to represent an ASCII character. So in any ASCII file, you’re wasting 1/8 of the bits. In particular, the most significant bit of each byte is not being used. A full, general binary file has no such restrictions. Any of the 256-bit patterns can be used in any byte of a binary file. ASCII files are used for simple word editing, but they are also the basis for all web pages. HTML is written in ASCII because each character has a specific and unique meaning that can be easily read by web browsers.



Binary mode is used for transferring executable programs, compressed files, and all image/picture files. If you try to upload an image in ASCII mode, you observe a strange mess appearing on the page where the image is supposed to appear. ASCII mode, in this case, has corrupted the binary coding in the jpeg or gif image. A binary file is executables, sound files, image files, object files… etc…What makes them binary is merely the fact that each byte of a binary file can be one of 256-bit patterns. Binary encoding more commonly known as BCP (Binary Communications Protocol), is made up of values in the range of 0-255. Binary files are composed of a long series of the characters “1” and “0” in complex configurations. This differs from ASCII in that the characters can be used to create any kind of data, from text to images. Most elements of the language, such as integers, real numbers, and operator names, are represented by fewer characters in binary encoding than in the ASCII encoding. Binary encoding is generally used in environments in which communication bandwidth or storage space is minimal. Communication media such as Appletalk and Ethertalk support the binary protocol. A program, such as a web browser, uses the binary information coded within it to analyze an HTML ASCII file and translate that information into a visual web page. Pictures and program-specific files, such as a Photoshop document, are also considered to be binary files. The process of converting data into binary code is called an encoding. Many encoding methods are used in computing and telecommunications. The simplest way to encode a data is to assign a specific value (mostly in decimal numbers) to the character or the symbol or the instruction, and then convert the value (decimal number) to the binary number, which only consists of 1`s and 0`s. The sequence of 1 `s and 0`s is called as a binary string. The length of the binary string determines the number of different characters or instructions which can be encoded


Difference between Binary Code and ASCII?

1) Binary code is a general term used for a method of encoding characters or instructions, but ASCII is only one of the globally accepted conventions of encoding characters and was the most commonly used binary encoding scheme for more than three decades.

2) Binary code can have different lengths for encoding depending on the number of characters, instructions, or the encoding method, but ASCII uses only 7 digits long binary string and 8 digits long for extended ASCII.


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2 Responses to “What is The Difference Between ASCII and BINARY?”

  1. Harry Smith says:

    I do like this for beginners, do you have anything that goes into it explaining every detail of binary and ASCII.
    I am an it professional with no qualifications (thanks to work experience over my years within the industry) and I have an extreme interest in everything computing.

    Binary was and is the basic fundamentals of everything computing, so I would like everything piece of information you guys can provide on the subject.

    I know I can find it easily online, I would rather not the hassle of trawling the web to find this information if not needed.

  2. Norbert says:

    Very good explanation. Well deserved applause. 👏

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