python – Reading binary file and looping over each byte

The Question :

395 people think this question is useful

In Python, how do I read in a binary file and loop over each byte of that file?

The Question Comments :

The Answer 1

413 people think this answer is useful

Python 2.4 and Earlier

f = open("myfile", "rb")
try:
    byte = f.read(1)
    while byte != "":
        # Do stuff with byte.
        byte = f.read(1)
finally:
    f.close()

Python 2.5-2.7

with open("myfile", "rb") as f:
    byte = f.read(1)
    while byte != "":
        # Do stuff with byte.
        byte = f.read(1)

Note that the with statement is not available in versions of Python below 2.5. To use it in v 2.5 you’ll need to import it:

from __future__ import with_statement

In 2.6 this is not needed.

Python 3

In Python 3, it’s a bit different. We will no longer get raw characters from the stream in byte mode but byte objects, thus we need to alter the condition:

with open("myfile", "rb") as f:
    byte = f.read(1)
    while byte != b"":
        # Do stuff with byte.
        byte = f.read(1)

Or as benhoyt says, skip the not equal and take advantage of the fact that b"" evaluates to false. This makes the code compatible between 2.6 and 3.x without any changes. It would also save you from changing the condition if you go from byte mode to text or the reverse.

with open("myfile", "rb") as f:
    byte = f.read(1)
    while byte:
        # Do stuff with byte.
        byte = f.read(1)

python 3.8

From now on thanks to := operator the above code can be written in a shorter way.

with open("myfile", "rb") as f:
    while (byte := f.read(1)):
        # Do stuff with byte.

The Answer 2

177 people think this answer is useful

This generator yields bytes from a file, reading the file in chunks:

def bytes_from_file(filename, chunksize=8192):
    with open(filename, "rb") as f:
        while True:
            chunk = f.read(chunksize)
            if chunk:
                for b in chunk:
                    yield b
            else:
                break

# example:
for b in bytes_from_file('filename'):
    do_stuff_with(b)

See the Python documentation for information on iterators and generators.

The Answer 3

55 people think this answer is useful

If the file is not too big that holding it in memory is a problem:

with open("filename", "rb") as f:
    bytes_read = f.read()
for b in bytes_read:
    process_byte(b)

where process_byte represents some operation you want to perform on the passed-in byte.

If you want to process a chunk at a time:

with open("filename", "rb") as f:
    bytes_read = f.read(CHUNKSIZE)
    while bytes_read:
        for b in bytes_read:
            process_byte(b)
        bytes_read = f.read(CHUNKSIZE)

The with statement is available in Python 2.5 and greater.

The Answer 4

39 people think this answer is useful

To read a file — one byte at a time (ignoring the buffering) — you could use the two-argument iter(callable, sentinel) built-in function:

with open(filename, 'rb') as file:
    for byte in iter(lambda: file.read(1), b''):
        # Do stuff with byte

It calls file.read(1) until it returns nothing b'' (empty bytestring). The memory doesn’t grow unlimited for large files. You could pass buffering=0 to open(), to disable the buffering — it guarantees that only one byte is read per iteration (slow).

with-statement closes the file automatically — including the case when the code underneath raises an exception.

Despite the presence of internal buffering by default, it is still inefficient to process one byte at a time. For example, here’s the blackhole.py utility that eats everything it is given:

#!/usr/bin/env python3
"""Discard all input. `cat > /dev/null` analog."""
import sys
from functools import partial
from collections import deque

chunksize = int(sys.argv[1]) if len(sys.argv) > 1 else (1 << 15)
deque(iter(partial(sys.stdin.detach().read, chunksize), b''), maxlen=0)

Example:

$ dd if=/dev/zero bs=1M count=1000 | python3 blackhole.py

It processes ~1.5 GB/s when chunksize == 32768 on my machine and only ~7.5 MB/s when chunksize == 1. That is, it is 200 times slower to read one byte at a time. Take it into account if you can rewrite your processing to use more than one byte at a time and if you need performance.

mmap allows you to treat a file as a bytearray and a file object simultaneously. It can serve as an alternative to loading the whole file in memory if you need access both interfaces. In particular, you can iterate one byte at a time over a memory-mapped file just using a plain for-loop:

from mmap import ACCESS_READ, mmap

with open(filename, 'rb', 0) as f, mmap(f.fileno(), 0, access=ACCESS_READ) as s:
    for byte in s: # length is equal to the current file size
        # Do stuff with byte

mmap supports the slice notation. For example, mm[i:i+len] returns len bytes from the file starting at position i. The context manager protocol is not supported before Python 3.2; you need to call mm.close() explicitly in this case. Iterating over each byte using mmap consumes more memory than file.read(1), but mmap is an order of magnitude faster.

The Answer 5

27 people think this answer is useful

Reading binary file in Python and looping over each byte

New in Python 3.5 is the pathlib module, which has a convenience method specifically to read in a file as bytes, allowing us to iterate over the bytes. I consider this a decent (if quick and dirty) answer:

import pathlib

for byte in pathlib.Path(path).read_bytes():
    print(byte)

Interesting that this is the only answer to mention pathlib.

In Python 2, you probably would do this (as Vinay Sajip also suggests):

with open(path, 'b') as file:
    for byte in file.read():
        print(byte)

In the case that the file may be too large to iterate over in-memory, you would chunk it, idiomatically, using the iter function with the callable, sentinel signature – the Python 2 version:

with open(path, 'b') as file:
    callable = lambda: file.read(1024)
    sentinel = bytes() # or b''
    for chunk in iter(callable, sentinel): 
        for byte in chunk:
            print(byte)

(Several other answers mention this, but few offer a sensible read size.)

Best practice for large files or buffered/interactive reading

Let’s create a function to do this, including idiomatic uses of the standard library for Python 3.5+:

from pathlib import Path
from functools import partial
from io import DEFAULT_BUFFER_SIZE

def file_byte_iterator(path):
    """given a path, return an iterator over the file
    that lazily loads the file
    """
    path = Path(path)
    with path.open('rb') as file:
        reader = partial(file.read1, DEFAULT_BUFFER_SIZE)
        file_iterator = iter(reader, bytes())
        for chunk in file_iterator:
            yield from chunk

Note that we use file.read1. file.read blocks until it gets all the bytes requested of it or EOF. file.read1 allows us to avoid blocking, and it can return more quickly because of this. No other answers mention this as well.

Demonstration of best practice usage:

Let’s make a file with a megabyte (actually mebibyte) of pseudorandom data:

import random
import pathlib
path = 'pseudorandom_bytes'
pathobj = pathlib.Path(path)

pathobj.write_bytes(
  bytes(random.randint(0, 255) for _ in range(2**20)))

Now let’s iterate over it and materialize it in memory:

>>> l = list(file_byte_iterator(path))
>>> len(l)
1048576

We can inspect any part of the data, for example, the last 100 and first 100 bytes:

>>> l[-100:]
[208, 5, 156, 186, 58, 107, 24, 12, 75, 15, 1, 252, 216, 183, 235, 6, 136, 50, 222, 218, 7, 65, 234, 129, 240, 195, 165, 215, 245, 201, 222, 95, 87, 71, 232, 235, 36, 224, 190, 185, 12, 40, 131, 54, 79, 93, 210, 6, 154, 184, 82, 222, 80, 141, 117, 110, 254, 82, 29, 166, 91, 42, 232, 72, 231, 235, 33, 180, 238, 29, 61, 250, 38, 86, 120, 38, 49, 141, 17, 190, 191, 107, 95, 223, 222, 162, 116, 153, 232, 85, 100, 97, 41, 61, 219, 233, 237, 55, 246, 181]
>>> l[:100]
[28, 172, 79, 126, 36, 99, 103, 191, 146, 225, 24, 48, 113, 187, 48, 185, 31, 142, 216, 187, 27, 146, 215, 61, 111, 218, 171, 4, 160, 250, 110, 51, 128, 106, 3, 10, 116, 123, 128, 31, 73, 152, 58, 49, 184, 223, 17, 176, 166, 195, 6, 35, 206, 206, 39, 231, 89, 249, 21, 112, 168, 4, 88, 169, 215, 132, 255, 168, 129, 127, 60, 252, 244, 160, 80, 155, 246, 147, 234, 227, 157, 137, 101, 84, 115, 103, 77, 44, 84, 134, 140, 77, 224, 176, 242, 254, 171, 115, 193, 29]

Don’t iterate by lines for binary files

Don’t do the following – this pulls a chunk of arbitrary size until it gets to a newline character – too slow when the chunks are too small, and possibly too large as well:

    with open(path, 'rb') as file:
        for chunk in file: # text newline iteration - not for bytes
            yield from chunk

The above is only good for what are semantically human readable text files (like plain text, code, markup, markdown etc… essentially anything ascii, utf, latin, etc… encoded) that you should open without the 'b' flag.

The Answer 6

19 people think this answer is useful

To sum up all the brilliant points of chrispy, Skurmedel, Ben Hoyt and Peter Hansen, this would be the optimal solution for processing a binary file one byte at a time:

with open("myfile", "rb") as f:
    while True:
        byte = f.read(1)
        if not byte:
            break
        do_stuff_with(ord(byte))

For python versions 2.6 and above, because:

  • python buffers internally – no need to read chunks
  • DRY principle – do not repeat the read line
  • with statement ensures a clean file close
  • ‘byte’ evaluates to false when there are no more bytes (not when a byte is zero)

Or use J. F. Sebastians solution for improved speed

from functools import partial

with open(filename, 'rb') as file:
    for byte in iter(partial(file.read, 1), b''):
        # Do stuff with byte

Or if you want it as a generator function like demonstrated by codeape:

def bytes_from_file(filename):
    with open(filename, "rb") as f:
        while True:
            byte = f.read(1)
            if not byte:
                break
            yield(ord(byte))

# example:
for b in bytes_from_file('filename'):
    do_stuff_with(b)

The Answer 7

8 people think this answer is useful

This post itself is not a direct answer to the question. What it is instead is a data-driven extensible benchmark that can be used to compare many of the answers (and variations of utilizing new features added in later, more modern, versions of Python) that have been posted to this question — and should therefore be helpful in determining which has the best performance.

In a few cases I’ve modified the code in the referenced answer to make it compatible with the benchmark framework.

First, here are the results for what currently are the latest versions of Python 2 & 3:

Fastest to slowest execution speeds with 32-bit Python 2.7.16
  numpy version 1.16.5
  Test file size: 1,024 KiB
  100 executions, best of 3 repetitions

1                  Tcll (array.array) :   3.8943 secs, rel speed   1.00x,   0.00% slower (262.95 KiB/sec)
2  Vinay Sajip (read all into memory) :   4.1164 secs, rel speed   1.06x,   5.71% slower (248.76 KiB/sec)
3            codeape + iter + partial :   4.1616 secs, rel speed   1.07x,   6.87% slower (246.06 KiB/sec)
4                             codeape :   4.1889 secs, rel speed   1.08x,   7.57% slower (244.46 KiB/sec)
5               Vinay Sajip (chunked) :   4.1977 secs, rel speed   1.08x,   7.79% slower (243.94 KiB/sec)
6           Aaron Hall (Py 2 version) :   4.2417 secs, rel speed   1.09x,   8.92% slower (241.41 KiB/sec)
7                     gerrit (struct) :   4.2561 secs, rel speed   1.09x,   9.29% slower (240.59 KiB/sec)
8                     Rick M. (numpy) :   8.1398 secs, rel speed   2.09x, 109.02% slower (125.80 KiB/sec)
9                           Skurmedel :  31.3264 secs, rel speed   8.04x, 704.42% slower ( 32.69 KiB/sec)

Benchmark runtime (min:sec) - 03:26


Fastest to slowest execution speeds with 32-bit Python 3.8.0
  numpy version 1.17.4
  Test file size: 1,024 KiB
  100 executions, best of 3 repetitions

1  Vinay Sajip + "yield from" + "walrus operator" :   3.5235 secs, rel speed   1.00x,   0.00% slower (290.62 KiB/sec)
2                       Aaron Hall + "yield from" :   3.5284 secs, rel speed   1.00x,   0.14% slower (290.22 KiB/sec)
3         codeape + iter + partial + "yield from" :   3.5303 secs, rel speed   1.00x,   0.19% slower (290.06 KiB/sec)
4                      Vinay Sajip + "yield from" :   3.5312 secs, rel speed   1.00x,   0.22% slower (289.99 KiB/sec)
5      codeape + "yield from" + "walrus operator" :   3.5370 secs, rel speed   1.00x,   0.38% slower (289.51 KiB/sec)
6                          codeape + "yield from" :   3.5390 secs, rel speed   1.00x,   0.44% slower (289.35 KiB/sec)
7                                      jfs (mmap) :   4.0612 secs, rel speed   1.15x,  15.26% slower (252.14 KiB/sec)
8              Vinay Sajip (read all into memory) :   4.5948 secs, rel speed   1.30x,  30.40% slower (222.86 KiB/sec)
9                        codeape + iter + partial :   4.5994 secs, rel speed   1.31x,  30.54% slower (222.64 KiB/sec)
10                                        codeape :   4.5995 secs, rel speed   1.31x,  30.54% slower (222.63 KiB/sec)
11                          Vinay Sajip (chunked) :   4.6110 secs, rel speed   1.31x,  30.87% slower (222.08 KiB/sec)
12                      Aaron Hall (Py 2 version) :   4.6292 secs, rel speed   1.31x,  31.38% slower (221.20 KiB/sec)
13                             Tcll (array.array) :   4.8627 secs, rel speed   1.38x,  38.01% slower (210.58 KiB/sec)
14                                gerrit (struct) :   5.0816 secs, rel speed   1.44x,  44.22% slower (201.51 KiB/sec)
15                 Rick M. (numpy) + "yield from" :  11.8084 secs, rel speed   3.35x, 235.13% slower ( 86.72 KiB/sec)
16                                      Skurmedel :  11.8806 secs, rel speed   3.37x, 237.18% slower ( 86.19 KiB/sec)
17                                Rick M. (numpy) :  13.3860 secs, rel speed   3.80x, 279.91% slower ( 76.50 KiB/sec)

Benchmark runtime (min:sec) - 04:47

I also ran it with a much larger 10 MiB test file (which took nearly an hour to run) and got performance results which were comparable to those shown above.

Here’s the code used to do the benchmarking:

from __future__ import print_function
import array
import atexit
from collections import deque, namedtuple
import io
from mmap import ACCESS_READ, mmap
import numpy as np
from operator import attrgetter
import os
import random
import struct
import sys
import tempfile
from textwrap import dedent
import time
import timeit
import traceback

try:
    xrange
except NameError:  # Python 3
    xrange = range


class KiB(int):
    """ KibiBytes - multiples of the byte units for quantities of information. """
    def __new__(self, value=0):
        return 1024*value


BIG_TEST_FILE = 1  # MiBs or 0 for a small file.
SML_TEST_FILE = KiB(64)
EXECUTIONS = 100  # Number of times each "algorithm" is executed per timing run.
TIMINGS = 3  # Number of timing runs.
CHUNK_SIZE = KiB(8)
if BIG_TEST_FILE:
    FILE_SIZE = KiB(1024) * BIG_TEST_FILE
else:
    FILE_SIZE = SML_TEST_FILE  # For quicker testing.

# Common setup for all algorithms -- prefixed to each algorithm's setup.
COMMON_SETUP = dedent("""
    # Make accessible in algorithms.
    from __main__ import array, deque, get_buffer_size, mmap, np, struct
    from __main__ import ACCESS_READ, CHUNK_SIZE, FILE_SIZE, TEMP_FILENAME
    from functools import partial
    try:
        xrange
    except NameError:  # Python 3
        xrange = range
""")


def get_buffer_size(path):
    """ Determine optimal buffer size for reading files. """
    st = os.stat(path)
    try:
        bufsize = st.st_blksize # Available on some Unix systems (like Linux)
    except AttributeError:
        bufsize = io.DEFAULT_BUFFER_SIZE
    return bufsize

# Utility primarily for use when embedding additional algorithms into benchmark.
VERIFY_NUM_READ = """
    # Verify generator reads correct number of bytes (assumes values are correct).
    bytes_read = sum(1 for _ in file_byte_iterator(TEMP_FILENAME))
    assert bytes_read == FILE_SIZE, \
           'Wrong number of bytes generated: got {:,} instead of {:,}'.format(
                bytes_read, FILE_SIZE)
"""

TIMING = namedtuple('TIMING', 'label, exec_time')

class Algorithm(namedtuple('CodeFragments', 'setup, test')):

    # Default timeit "stmt" code fragment.
    _TEST = """
        #for b in file_byte_iterator(TEMP_FILENAME):  # Loop over every byte.
        #    pass  # Do stuff with byte...
        deque(file_byte_iterator(TEMP_FILENAME), maxlen=0)  # Data sink.
    """

    # Must overload __new__ because (named)tuples are immutable.
    def __new__(cls, setup, test=None):
        """ Dedent (unindent) code fragment string arguments.
        Args:
          `setup` -- Code fragment that defines things used by `test` code.
                     In this case it should define a generator function named
                     `file_byte_iterator()` that will be passed that name of a test file
                     of binary data. This code is not timed.
          `test` -- Code fragment that uses things defined in `setup` code.
                    Defaults to _TEST. This is the code that's timed.
        """
        test =  cls._TEST if test is None else test  # Use default unless one is provided.

        # Uncomment to replace all performance tests with one that verifies the correct
        # number of bytes values are being generated by the file_byte_iterator function.
        #test = VERIFY_NUM_READ

        return tuple.__new__(cls, (dedent(setup), dedent(test)))


algorithms = {

    'Aaron Hall (Py 2 version)': Algorithm("""
        def file_byte_iterator(path):
            with open(path, "rb") as file:
                callable = partial(file.read, 1024)
                sentinel = bytes() # or b''
                for chunk in iter(callable, sentinel):
                    for byte in chunk:
                        yield byte
    """),

    "codeape": Algorithm("""
        def file_byte_iterator(filename, chunksize=CHUNK_SIZE):
            with open(filename, "rb") as f:
                while True:
                    chunk = f.read(chunksize)
                    if chunk:
                        for b in chunk:
                            yield b
                    else:
                        break
    """),

    "codeape + iter + partial": Algorithm("""
        def file_byte_iterator(filename, chunksize=CHUNK_SIZE):
            with open(filename, "rb") as f:
                for chunk in iter(partial(f.read, chunksize), b''):
                    for b in chunk:
                        yield b
    """),

    "gerrit (struct)": Algorithm("""
        def file_byte_iterator(filename):
            with open(filename, "rb") as f:
                fmt = '{}B'.format(FILE_SIZE)  # Reads entire file at once.
                for b in struct.unpack(fmt, f.read()):
                    yield b
    """),

    'Rick M. (numpy)': Algorithm("""
        def file_byte_iterator(filename):
            for byte in np.fromfile(filename, 'u1'):
                yield byte
    """),

    "Skurmedel": Algorithm("""
        def file_byte_iterator(filename):
            with open(filename, "rb") as f:
                byte = f.read(1)
                while byte:
                    yield byte
                    byte = f.read(1)
    """),

    "Tcll (array.array)": Algorithm("""
        def file_byte_iterator(filename):
            with open(filename, "rb") as f:
                arr = array.array('B')
                arr.fromfile(f, FILE_SIZE)  # Reads entire file at once.
                for b in arr:
                    yield b
    """),

    "Vinay Sajip (read all into memory)": Algorithm("""
        def file_byte_iterator(filename):
            with open(filename, "rb") as f:
                bytes_read = f.read()  # Reads entire file at once.
            for b in bytes_read:
                yield b
    """),

    "Vinay Sajip (chunked)": Algorithm("""
        def file_byte_iterator(filename, chunksize=CHUNK_SIZE):
            with open(filename, "rb") as f:
                chunk = f.read(chunksize)
                while chunk:
                    for b in chunk:
                        yield b
                    chunk = f.read(chunksize)
    """),

}  # End algorithms

#
# Versions of algorithms that will only work in certain releases (or better) of Python.
#
if sys.version_info >= (3, 3):
    algorithms.update({

        'codeape + iter + partial + "yield from"': Algorithm("""
            def file_byte_iterator(filename, chunksize=CHUNK_SIZE):
                with open(filename, "rb") as f:
                    for chunk in iter(partial(f.read, chunksize), b''):
                        yield from chunk
        """),

        'codeape + "yield from"': Algorithm("""
            def file_byte_iterator(filename, chunksize=CHUNK_SIZE):
                with open(filename, "rb") as f:
                    while True:
                        chunk = f.read(chunksize)
                        if chunk:
                            yield from chunk
                        else:
                            break
        """),

        "jfs (mmap)": Algorithm("""
            def file_byte_iterator(filename):
                with open(filename, "rb") as f, \
                     mmap(f.fileno(), 0, access=ACCESS_READ) as s:
                    yield from s
        """),

        'Rick M. (numpy) + "yield from"': Algorithm("""
            def file_byte_iterator(filename):
            #    data = np.fromfile(filename, 'u1')
                yield from np.fromfile(filename, 'u1')
        """),

        'Vinay Sajip + "yield from"': Algorithm("""
            def file_byte_iterator(filename, chunksize=CHUNK_SIZE):
                with open(filename, "rb") as f:
                    chunk = f.read(chunksize)
                    while chunk:
                        yield from chunk  # Added in Py 3.3
                        chunk = f.read(chunksize)
        """),

    })  # End Python 3.3 update.

if sys.version_info >= (3, 5):
    algorithms.update({

        'Aaron Hall + "yield from"': Algorithm("""
            from pathlib import Path

            def file_byte_iterator(path):
                ''' Given a path, return an iterator over the file
                    that lazily loads the file.
                '''
                path = Path(path)
                bufsize = get_buffer_size(path)

                with path.open('rb') as file:
                    reader = partial(file.read1, bufsize)
                    for chunk in iter(reader, bytes()):
                        yield from chunk
        """),

    })  # End Python 3.5 update.

if sys.version_info >= (3, 8, 0):
    algorithms.update({

        'Vinay Sajip + "yield from" + "walrus operator"': Algorithm("""
            def file_byte_iterator(filename, chunksize=CHUNK_SIZE):
                with open(filename, "rb") as f:
                    while chunk := f.read(chunksize):
                        yield from chunk  # Added in Py 3.3
        """),

        'codeape + "yield from" + "walrus operator"': Algorithm("""
            def file_byte_iterator(filename, chunksize=CHUNK_SIZE):
                with open(filename, "rb") as f:
                    while chunk := f.read(chunksize):
                        yield from chunk
        """),

    })  # End Python 3.8.0 update.update.


#### Main ####

def main():
    global TEMP_FILENAME

    def cleanup():
        """ Clean up after testing is completed. """
        try:
            os.remove(TEMP_FILENAME)  # Delete the temporary file.
        except Exception:
            pass

    atexit.register(cleanup)

    # Create a named temporary binary file of pseudo-random bytes for testing.
    fd, TEMP_FILENAME = tempfile.mkstemp('.bin')
    with os.fdopen(fd, 'wb') as file:
         os.write(fd, bytearray(random.randrange(256) for _ in range(FILE_SIZE)))

    # Execute and time each algorithm, gather results.
    start_time = time.time()  # To determine how long testing itself takes.

    timings = []
    for label in algorithms:
        try:
            timing = TIMING(label,
                            min(timeit.repeat(algorithms[label].test,
                                              setup=COMMON_SETUP + algorithms[label].setup,
                                              repeat=TIMINGS, number=EXECUTIONS)))
        except Exception as exc:
            print('{} occurred timing the algorithm: "{}"\n  {}'.format(
                    type(exc).__name__, label, exc))
            traceback.print_exc(file=sys.stdout)  # Redirect to stdout.
            sys.exit(1)
        timings.append(timing)

    # Report results.
    print('Fastest to slowest execution speeds with {}-bit Python {}.{}.{}'.format(
            64 if sys.maxsize > 2**32 else 32, *sys.version_info[:3]))
    print('  numpy version {}'.format(np.version.full_version))
    print('  Test file size: {:,} KiB'.format(FILE_SIZE // KiB(1)))
    print('  {:,d} executions, best of {:d} repetitions'.format(EXECUTIONS, TIMINGS))
    print()

    longest = max(len(timing.label) for timing in timings)  # Len of longest identifier.
    ranked = sorted(timings, key=attrgetter('exec_time')) # Sort so fastest is first.
    fastest = ranked[0].exec_time
    for rank, timing in enumerate(ranked, 1):
        print('{:<2d} {:>{width}} : {:8.4f} secs, rel speed {:6.2f}x, {:6.2f}% slower '
              '({:6.2f} KiB/sec)'.format(
                    rank,
                    timing.label, timing.exec_time, round(timing.exec_time/fastest, 2),
                    round((timing.exec_time/fastest - 1) * 100, 2),
                    (FILE_SIZE/timing.exec_time) / KiB(1),  # per sec.
                    width=longest))
    print()
    mins, secs = divmod(time.time()-start_time, 60)
    print('Benchmark runtime (min:sec) - {:02d}:{:02d}'.format(int(mins),
                                                               int(round(secs))))

main()

The Answer 8

6 people think this answer is useful

Python 3, read all of the file at once:

with open("filename", "rb") as binary_file:
    # Read the whole file at once
    data = binary_file.read()
    print(data)

You can iterate whatever you want using data variable.

The Answer 9

6 people think this answer is useful

After trying all the above and using the answer from @Aaron Hall, I was getting memory errors for a ~90 Mb file on a computer running Window 10, 8 Gb RAM and Python 3.5 32-bit. I was recommended by a colleague to use numpy instead and it works wonders.

By far, the fastest to read an entire binary file (that I have tested) is:

import numpy as np

file = "binary_file.bin"
data = np.fromfile(file, 'u1')

Reference

Multitudes faster than any other methods so far. Hope it helps someone!

The Answer 10

4 people think this answer is useful

If you have a lot of binary data to read, you might want to consider the struct module. It is documented as converting “between C and Python types”, but of course, bytes are bytes, and whether those were created as C types does not matter. For example, if your binary data contains two 2-byte integers and one 4-byte integer, you can read them as follows (example taken from struct documentation):

>>> struct.unpack('hhl', b'\x00\x01\x00\x02\x00\x00\x00\x03')
(1, 2, 3)

You might find this more convenient, faster, or both, than explicitly looping over the content of a file.

The Answer 11

3 people think this answer is useful

if you are looking for something speedy, here’s a method I’ve been using that’s worked for years:

from array import array

with open( path, 'rb' ) as file:
    data = array( 'B', file.read() ) # buffer the file

# evaluate it's data
for byte in data:
    v = byte # int value
    c = chr(byte)

if you want to iterate chars instead of ints, you can simply use data = file.read(), which should be a bytes() object in py3.

The Answer 12

0 people think this answer is useful

Here’s an example of reading Network endian data using Numpy fromfile addressing @Nirmal comments above:

dtheader= np.dtype([('Start Name','b', (4,)),
                ('Message Type', np.int32, (1,)),
                ('Instance', np.int32, (1,)),
                ('NumItems', np.int32, (1,)),
                ('Length', np.int32, (1,)),
                ('ComplexArray', np.int32, (1,))])
dtheader=dtheader.newbyteorder('>')

headerinfo = np.fromfile(iqfile, dtype=dtheader, count=1)

print(raw['Start Name'])

I hope this helps. The problem is that fromfile doesn’t recognize and EOF and allow gracefully breaking out of the loop for files of arbitrary size.

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