C File Handling

C file handling: A file represents a sequence of bytes i.e. a text (or) a binary file for the data storage. File handling in C provides create, insert, delete, open and other operations using files. And these files going to store the data on secondary storage device i.e. hard disk.  C can handle files such as stream-oriented data files(text0 and system oriented data files (binary).

File Handling in C with Examples

Stream-oriented data files

The data is stored in the same manner as it appears on the screen. And the i/o operations like data conversations, buffering, etc., take place automatically.

System-Oriented data files

These files are more closely associated with OS and data stored in memory without converting into text format.

Handling file in C

For handling the files in C, we should follow these steps:

  • Naming a file
  • opening a file
  • Reading data from a file
  • writing data into a file
  • closing a file

File handling functions in C

Function Operation
fopen( ) To open a file
fclose( ) For closing a file
getc( ) Closes a file
putc( ) Writes a character to a file
getw( ) To read an integer
putw( ) To write an integer
fprintf( ) For writing a set of data in the file
fscanf( ) To read a set of data from the file
fgets( ) Read the string of characters from a file
fputs( ) Write a string of characters to file
feof( ) Detects end-of-file marker in a file

Mode of Operations Performed on a File in C

There are many modes of opening a file. Based on the mode of a file, it can be opened for reading, writing or appending the texts. They are as follows:

  • r: Opens a  file in reading mode and sets the pointer to the first character in the file. It returns null if the file doesn’t exist.
  • w: It opens a file in the write mode and returns null if the file could not be opened. If the file exists, data should be overwritten.
  • a: Opens the file in append mode and it also returns null if a file couldn’t open.
  • r+: Opens a file for reading and write mode and sets a pointer to the first character in the file.
  • w+: It opens a file for reading and write mode and sets a pointer to the first character in a file.
  • a+: It will open a file for reading and write mode and sets a pointer to the first character in the file. But it cannot modify existing content.

Reading from a file

The file read operations can be performed using functions fscanf or fgets. Both the functions perform the same operations as that of printf and get but with an additional parameter, the file pointer. So, it depends on you if you want to read the file line by line or character by character.


FILE * filePointer; 
filePointer = fopen(“fileName.txt”, “r”);
fscanf(filePointer, "%s %s %s %d", str1, str2, str3, &year);

Writing a file

The file writes operations can be performed by the functions of filePointerrintf and filePointeruts with similarities to read operations.


FILE *filePointer ; 
filePointer = fopen(“fileName.txt”, “w”);
filePointerrintf(filePointer, "%s %s %s %d", "We", "are", "in", 2012);

Closing a file

After every successful fie operation, you must always close a file. For closing a file, you have to use a fclose function.


FILE *filePointer ; 
filePointer= fopen(“fileName.txt”, “w”);
---------- Some file Operations -------

Example:  / * Open, write and close a file : */

int main( ){
FILE *fp ;
char data[50];// opening an existing file
printf( "Opening the file test.c in write mode"); 
fp = fopen("test.c", "w");
if(fp == NULL ) {
printf("Could not open file test.c" );
return 1; }
printf("\n Enter some text from keyboard” \“ to write in the file test.c");//getting input from user
while(strlen(gets(data)) > 0) { // writing in the file
fputs(data, fp);
fputs("\n", fp) ;}// closing the file
printf("Closing the file test.c");
return 0;}

Opening the file test.c in write mode
Enter some text from keyboard” “ to write in the file test.c
Closing the file test.c

Example 2:  /* Open, Read and close a file by using reading string by string */

#include <stdio.h>        
int main( )  {              
FILE *fp ;            
char data[50] ;            
printf( "Opening the file test.c in read mode" );            
fp = fopen( "test.c", "r" ) ;            
if(fp == NULL ) {                 
printf( "Could not open file test.c" );                 
return 1; }            
printf( "Reading the file test.c" );            
while(fgets( data, 50, fp )!= NULL )            
printf( "%s" , data );            
printf("Closing the file test.c");            
return 0;