C# Byte Array: Memory Usage, Read All BytesCreate, test, and measure byte arrays. Byte arrays are similar to other kinds of arrays.
store binary data. This data may be part of a data file, image file, compressed file, downloaded server response, or many other files.ByteArray
With byte arrays,
we have an ideal representation of this data. The byte array type allows you to store low-level representations. It is useful when optimizing certain methods.
Tip: Here we find that a byte array is a precise representation of bytes, not a higher-level construct.
This program shows
how to allocate a byte array on the managed heap. The program also measures the memory usage of the managed heap before and after this allocation occurs.
Memory: The GC.GetTotalMemory method gathers the memory usage figures from the system before and after the allocation of the byte array.GC.Collect
Then: The byte array variable is assigned a reference to three million bytes in an array allocated on the managed heap.
Result: Allocating a three million element array of bytes causes three million bytes to be added to the memory usage of the program.ValueType
C# program that allocates byte array
static void Main()
byte array1 = null;
// Allocate three million bytes and measure memory usage.
long bytes1 = GC.GetTotalMemory(false);
array1 = new byte[1000 * 1000 * 3];
array1 = 0;
long bytes2 = GC.GetTotalMemory(false);
Console.WriteLine(bytes2 - bytes1);
We read in a byte array from a file with the System.IO namespace. An easy way to read a file into a binary array is the File.ReadAllBytes method in the File class.File.ReadAllBytes
C# program that uses File.ReadAllBytes
static void Main()
byte array = File.ReadAllBytes("C:\\profiles\\file.bin");
We use Seek() on some Stream classes to read a part of a file into a byte array. It is faster to read in an entire byte array at once. This uses the file system's buffering.Seek
uses byte arrays in its internal code. You can use the BinaryWrite method and provide a byte array parameter to achieve a fast write to the HTTP response.
Note: Some websites use this approach to optimize server-side performance. Byte arrays are used frequently in this approach.Response.BinaryWrite
Test byte array.
A GZIP file must have certain bytes in its first few bytes. We use IsGZipHeader to test a byte array to see if it contains GZIP data.
Note: The first part of Main reads in a GZIP file, "2About.gz". The result value from IsGZipHeader on this file is true.
GZipTool: This class is a public static class, which means you can access it from other namespaces and files. It contains IsGZipHeader.
IsGZipHeader: This method returns true if the byte data passed to it contains the values 31 and 139 in its first two bytes.
C# program that tests gzip files
static void Main()
byte gzip = File.ReadAllBytes("2About.gz");
byte text = File.ReadAllBytes("Program.cs");
/// GZIP utility methods.
public static class GZipTool
/// Checks the first two bytes in a GZIP file, which must be 31 and 139.
public static bool IsGZipHeader(byte arr)
return arr.Length >= 2 &&
arr == 31 &&
arr == 139;
You can download data over the Internet or other network with a network connection with WebClient. We directly access the bytes of any server's response.
Tip: The data it returns is stored in a byte array. This is useful for scraping web sites or automating tedious Internet tasks.WebClient
allows you to use a byte array buffer for expanding or compressing GZIP-encoded data. This is an easy way to implement compression or decompression for web applications.GZipStream
File system caching.
With byte arrays, you are usually just storing the exact data from the file system in the memory of your program.
However: In some cases, this actually duplicates the Windows file system cache mechanism that is optimized for this exact purpose.
Note: Byte array caches on the file system can improve or degrade performance in various situations.
This class allows us to imperatively read in a binary file with more helper methods than testing the bytes yourself.
Class: The BinaryReader class allows you to easily transform individual bytes into integers or strings.BinaryReader
A summary. We looked at the byte array type, seeing its memory allocation statistics. Next we provided pointers to other articles that focus on the byte array type.
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