Browse Definitions:
Definition

binary-safe function

A binary-safe function is a function or operation that can be performed on a binary file without modifying the contents of the file. This ensures that the file is not corrupted or mutilated by the function or operation.

Binary data is encoded as a string of ones and zeros (bits), but is not formatted in any particular way. The bits are simply there, and no meaning is attached to them. Most programs, in contrast, have formatting codes that assign certain meanings to specific strings of bits. When a program is used in an attempt to read a binary file, the file is interpreted according to the rules of that program. Unless the formatting codes of the reading program match the formatting codes of the program in which the file was written, the display makes no sense, or else contains a jumble of apparently meaningless symbols in addition to data that has been stripped of formatting codes.

An image such as a JPEG file can be opened in a word processor, but the image does not appear. Instead, garbage is displayed. Any attempt to edit and then save a JPEG file using a word processor will result in modification of the binary data, such that the result is no longer readable by the intended program. The file is, in effect, corrupted. The editing of a JPEG image file using a word processor is thus an example of a function that is not binary-safe.

Issues with binary safety are often encountered when binary files are transferred over the Internet. This is especially true for large files, which can cause overflow of the memory, buffer, or storage capacity in one or more servers. Sometimes, transferred files are subjected to functions that strip formatting codes, or that incorrectly interpret certain binary strings as formatting codes. For example, angle brackets can be falsely interpreted as markers for HTML tags, or desired tags may be lost in the transfer of an HTML file. Quotation marks in plain-text or ASCII format may not be read that way by a Web browser. An HTML editor will convert quotation marks (") into a string of characters to prevent this confusion. An extra space ( ) in a Web page appears as a string of characters when the HTML source code is viewed in a text editor such as Windows Notepad. Conversely, such character strings are interpreted by Web browsers as quotation marks and spaces, even if the author of the file did not intend for them to be interpreted that way.

Binary files can be protected from undesired modification by programs. In the worst-case scenario, such modification can result in permanent loss of data because of file corruption. Sensitive files should always be backed up on read-only media such as a recordable compact disc (CD-R), so the original data can be retrieved in case of unwanted modification by a function that is not binary-safe. When transferring binary files to a Web site using a File Transfer Protocol (FTP) program, the "binary" setting can be used to prevent unwanted modification of the file contents during the transfer process.

This was last updated in June 2010

Start the conversation

Send me notifications when other members comment.

By submitting you agree to receive email from TechTarget and its partners. If you reside outside of the United States, you consent to having your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States. Privacy

Please create a username to comment.

-ADS BY GOOGLE

File Extensions and File Formats

SearchCompliance

SearchSecurity

  • Web application firewall (WAF)

    A Web application firewall (WAF) is a firewall that monitors, filters or blocks traffic to and from a Web application. WAFs are ...

  • MD5

    The MD5 hashing algorithm is a one-way cryptographic function that accepts a message of any length as input and returns as output...

  • identity theft

    Identity theft, also known as identity fraud, is a crime in which an imposter obtains key pieces of personally identifiable ...

SearchHealthIT

SearchDisasterRecovery

  • call tree

    A call tree -- sometimes referred to as a phone tree -- is a telecommunications chain for notifying specific individuals of an ...

  • mass notification system (MNS)

    A mass notification system is a platform that sends one-way messages to inform employees and the public of an emergency.

  • disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS)

    One approach to a strong disaster recovery plan is DRaaS, where companies offload data replication and restoration ...

SearchStorage

  • secondary storage

    Secondary storage is used to protect inactive data written from a primary storage array to a nonvolatile tier of disk, flash or ...

  • VRAM (video ram)

    VRAM (video RAM) is a reference to any type of random access memory (RAM) used to store image data for a computer display.

  • ZFS

    ZFS is a local file system and logical volume manager created by Sun Microsystems to control the placement, storage and retrieval...

SearchSolidStateStorage

  • SSD RAID (solid-state drive RAID)

    SSD RAID (solid-state drive RAID) is a methodology commonly used to protect data by distributing redundant data blocks across ...

  • Tier 0

    Tier 0 (tier zero) is a level of data storage that is faster, and perhaps more expensive, than any other level in the storage ...

  • PCIe SSD (PCIe solid-state drive)

    A PCIe SSD (PCIe solid-state drive) is a high-speed expansion card that attaches a computer to its peripherals.

SearchCloudStorage

  • RESTful API

    A RESTful application program interface breaks down a transaction to create a series of small modules, each of which addresses an...

  • cloud storage infrastructure

    Cloud storage infrastructure is the hardware and software framework that supports the computing requirements of a private or ...

  • Zadara VPSA and ZIOS

    Zadara Storage provides block, file or object storage with varying levels of compute and capacity through its ZIOS and VPSA ...

Close