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Seek File ExamplesCall the Seek method on streams, using the BinaryReader type and the File.Open method.
C#
This page was last reviewed on Dec 17, 2021.
Seek. This C# method locates a position in a file. It allows data to be read from a binary file at a certain part. For example, we can read 20,000 bytes from any part of a file.
Seek uses. Seek() is useful for certain file formats—particularly binary ones. With Seek we can improve performance and only read data where needed.
File
Example. Here we use the Seek method. From databases, you know that Seek is the term for when the data can be instantly retrieved, with an index. Therefore Seek() should be fast.
Here This example gets the 50000th byte to the 51999th byte and iterates through them.
Note The BinaryReader class is used. The program opens the binary file with BinaryReader here. It uses the "perls.bin" file.
File.Open
Seek We call Seek on the BaseStream and move the position to 50000 bytes. It looks through each byte.
Byte
Warning This code can slow down IO. It apparently requires each byte to be read separately off the disk.
using System; using System.IO; class Program { static void Main() { // Open as binary file. using (BinaryReader b = new BinaryReader(File.Open("perls.bin", FileMode.Open))) { int length = (int)b.BaseStream.Length; int pos = 50000; int required = 2000; int count = 0; // Seek the required index. b.BaseStream.Seek(pos, SeekOrigin.Begin); // Slow loop through the bytes. while (pos < length && count < required) { byte y = b.ReadByte(); pos++; count++; } } } }
Example 2. We next use the Seek method with arrays of bytes. There are 2 useful methods you can call to read in an array of bytes. They are Read and ReadBytes.
Here The example opens the same binary file. We start at the same index in the file as the previous example (the 50000th byte).
Info BinaryReader itself doesn't provide Seek, but you can use BaseStream with no damage.
And It calls ReadBytes. This reads in the 2000 required bytes. These are stored in the byte array.
Note If there are not enough bytes left, the ReadBytes method does not throw exceptions.
using System; using System.IO; class Program { static void Main() { // Open file with BinaryReader. using (BinaryReader b = new BinaryReader(File.Open("perls.bin", FileMode.Open))) { // Variables for our position. int pos = 50000; int required = 2000; // Seek to our required position. b.BaseStream.Seek(pos, SeekOrigin.Begin); // Read the next 2000 bytes. byte[] by = b.ReadBytes(required); } } }
Testing. Should we use Seek with ReadBytes? Here we compare the performance of single byte reads to array reads. The array example is much faster.
Note This may occur because the operating system does not buffer the single byte reads well.
Info This test was done several years ago (since 2021) but it is still useful as avoiding IO calls is still an optimization.
Test notes for Seek:
Bytes read: 20000 File size: 2.94 MB Start position: Inclusive random number Compilation: Release Iterations: 10000
Read one byte: 2574 ms Read array: 671 ms
A summary. We used the Seek method on the BinaryReader and FileStream classes. We measured performance. Using the array read method is far faster than using single bytes.
Dot Net Perls is a collection of tested code examples. Pages are continually updated to stay current, with code correctness a top priority.
Sam Allen is passionate about computer languages. In the past, his work has been recommended by Apple and Microsoft and he has studied computers at a selective university in the United States.
This page was last updated on Dec 17, 2021 (edit).
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