How to convert an InputStream into a String in Java? [Answered]

Sample query:

If you have a java.io.InputStream object, how should you process that object and produce a String?


Suppose I have an InputStream that contains text data, and I want to convert it to a String, so for example I can write that to a log file.

What is the easiest way to take the InputStream and convert it to a String?

public String convertStreamToString(InputStream is) {
    // ???
}

How to convert InputStream object into String in Java? Answer #1:

Summarize other answers I found 11 main ways to do this (see below). And I wrote some performance tests (see results below):

Ways to convert an InputStream to a String:

#1: Using IOUtils.toString (Apache Utils)

 String result = IOUtils.toString(inputStream, StandardCharsets.UTF_8);

#2: Using CharStreams (Guava)

 String result = CharStreams.toString(new InputStreamReader(
       inputStream, Charsets.UTF_8));

#3: Using Scanner (JDK)

Scanner s = new Scanner(inputStream).useDelimiter("\\A");
 String result = s.hasNext() ? s.next() : "";

#4: Using Stream API (Java 8). Warning: This solution converts different line breaks (like \r\n) to \n.

String result = new BufferedReader(new InputStreamReader(inputStream))
   .lines().collect(Collectors.joining("\n"));

#5: Using parallel Stream API (Java 8). Warning: This solution converts different line breaks (like \r\n) to \n.

 String result = new BufferedReader(new InputStreamReader(inputStream))
    .lines().parallel().collect(Collectors.joining("\n"));

#6: Using InputStreamReader and StringBuilder (JDK)

int bufferSize = 1024;
 char[] buffer = new char[bufferSize];
 StringBuilder out = new StringBuilder();
 Reader in = new InputStreamReader(stream, StandardCharsets.UTF_8);
 for (int numRead; (numRead = in.read(buffer, 0, buffer.length)) > 0; ) {
     out.append(buffer, 0, numRead);
 }
 return out.toString();

#7: Using StringWriter and IOUtils.copy (Apache Commons)

StringWriter writer = new StringWriter();
 IOUtils.copy(inputStream, writer, "UTF-8");
 return writer.toString();

#8: Using ByteArrayOutputStream and inputStream.read (JDK)

ByteArrayOutputStream result = new ByteArrayOutputStream();
 byte[] buffer = new byte[1024];
 for (int length; (length = inputStream.read(buffer)) != -1; ) {
     result.write(buffer, 0, length);
 }
 // StandardCharsets.UTF_8.name() > JDK 7
 return result.toString("UTF-8");

#9: Using BufferedReader (JDK). Warning: This solution converts different line breaks (like \n\r) to line.separator system property (for example, in Windows to “\r\n”).

String newLine = System.getProperty("line.separator");
 BufferedReader reader = new BufferedReader(
         new InputStreamReader(inputStream));
 StringBuilder result = new StringBuilder();
 for (String line; (line = reader.readLine()) != null; ) {
     if (result.length() > 0) {
         result.append(newLine);
     }
     result.append(line);
 }
 return result.toString();

#10: Using BufferedInputStream and ByteArrayOutputStream (JDK)

BufferedInputStream bis = new BufferedInputStream(inputStream);
ByteArrayOutputStream buf = new ByteArrayOutputStream();
for (int result = bis.read(); result != -1; result = bis.read()) {
    buf.write((byte) result);
}
// StandardCharsets.UTF_8.name() > JDK 7
return buf.toString("UTF-8");

#11: Using inputStream.read() and StringBuilder (JDK). Warning: This solution has problems with Unicode, for example with Russian text (works correctly only with non-Unicode text)

StringBuilder sb = new StringBuilder();
for (int ch; (ch = inputStream.read()) != -1; ) {
    sb.append((char) ch);
}
return sb.toString();

Warning:

  1. Solutions 4, 5 and 9 convert different line breaks to one.
  2. Solution 11 can’t work correctly with Unicode text

Performance tests

Performance tests for small String (length = 175), url in github (mode = Average Time, system = Linux, score 1,343 is the best):

              Benchmark                         Mode  Cnt   Score   Error  Units
 8. ByteArrayOutputStream and read (JDK)        avgt   10   1,343 ± 0,028  us/op
 6. InputStreamReader and StringBuilder (JDK)   avgt   10   6,980 ± 0,404  us/op
10. BufferedInputStream, ByteArrayOutputStream  avgt   10   7,437 ± 0,735  us/op
11. InputStream.read() and StringBuilder (JDK)  avgt   10   8,977 ± 0,328  us/op
 7. StringWriter and IOUtils.copy (Apache)      avgt   10  10,613 ± 0,599  us/op
 1. IOUtils.toString (Apache Utils)             avgt   10  10,605 ± 0,527  us/op
 3. Scanner (JDK)                               avgt   10  12,083 ± 0,293  us/op
 2. CharStreams (guava)                         avgt   10  12,999 ± 0,514  us/op
 4. Stream Api (Java 8)                         avgt   10  15,811 ± 0,605  us/op
 9. BufferedReader (JDK)                        avgt   10  16,038 ± 0,711  us/op
 5. parallel Stream Api (Java 8)                avgt   10  21,544 ± 0,583  us/op

Performance tests for big String (length = 50100), url in github (mode = Average Time, system = Linux, score 200,715 is the best):

               Benchmark                        Mode  Cnt   Score        Error  Units
 8. ByteArrayOutputStream and read (JDK)        avgt   10   200,715 ±   18,103  us/op
 1. IOUtils.toString (Apache Utils)             avgt   10   300,019 ±    8,751  us/op
 6. InputStreamReader and StringBuilder (JDK)   avgt   10   347,616 ±  130,348  us/op
 7. StringWriter and IOUtils.copy (Apache)      avgt   10   352,791 ±  105,337  us/op
 2. CharStreams (guava)                         avgt   10   420,137 ±   59,877  us/op
 9. BufferedReader (JDK)                        avgt   10   632,028 ±   17,002  us/op
 5. parallel Stream Api (Java 8)                avgt   10   662,999 ±   46,199  us/op
 4. Stream Api (Java 8)                         avgt   10   701,269 ±   82,296  us/op
10. BufferedInputStream, ByteArrayOutputStream  avgt   10   740,837 ±    5,613  us/op
 3. Scanner (JDK)                               avgt   10   751,417 ±   62,026  us/op
11. InputStream.read() and StringBuilder (JDK)  avgt   10  2919,350 ± 1101,942  us/op

Graphs (performance tests depending on Input Stream length in Windows 7 system)

Performance test (Average Time) depending on Input Stream length in Windows 7 system:

 length  182    546     1092    3276    9828    29484   58968

 test8  0.38    0.938   1.868   4.448   13.412  36.459  72.708
 test4  2.362   3.609   5.573   12.769  40.74   81.415  159.864
 test5  3.881   5.075   6.904   14.123  50.258  129.937 166.162
 test9  2.237   3.493   5.422   11.977  45.98   89.336  177.39
 test6  1.261   2.12    4.38    10.698  31.821  86.106  186.636
 test7  1.601   2.391   3.646   8.367   38.196  110.221 211.016
 test1  1.529   2.381   3.527   8.411   40.551  105.16  212.573
 test3  3.035   3.934   8.606   20.858  61.571  118.744 235.428
 test2  3.136   6.238   10.508  33.48   43.532  118.044 239.481
 test10 1.593   4.736   7.527   20.557  59.856  162.907 323.147
 test11 3.913   11.506  23.26   68.644  207.591 600.444 1211.545

Answer #2:

A nice way to do this is using Apache commons IOUtils to copy the InputStream into a StringWriter… something like

StringWriter writer = new StringWriter();
IOUtils.copy(inputStream, writer, encoding);
String theString = writer.toString();

or even

// NB: does not close inputStream, you'll have to use try-with-resources for that
String theString = IOUtils.toString(inputStream, encoding); 

Alternatively, you could use ByteArrayOutputStream if you don’t want to mix your Streams and Writers.

Answer #3:

Here’s a way using only the standard Java library (note that the stream is not closed, your mileage may vary).

static String convertStreamToString(java.io.InputStream is) {
    java.util.Scanner s = new java.util.Scanner(is).useDelimiter("\\A");
    return s.hasNext() ? s.next() : "";
}

I learned this trick from “Stupid Scanner tricks” article. The reason it works is because Scanner iterates over tokens in the stream, and in this case we separate tokens using “beginning of the input boundary” (\A), thus giving us only one token for the entire contents of the stream.

Note, if you need to be specific about the input stream’s encoding, you can provide the second argument to Scanner constructor that indicates what character set to use (e.g. “UTF-8”).

Answer #4:

Taking into account file one should first get a java.io.Reader instance. This can then be read and added to a StringBuilder (we don’t need StringBuffer if we are not accessing it in multiple threads, and StringBuilder is faster). The trick here is that we work in blocks, and as such don’t need other buffering streams. The block size is parameterized for run-time performance optimization.

public static String slurp(final InputStream is, final int bufferSize) {
    final char[] buffer = new char[bufferSize];
    final StringBuilder out = new StringBuilder();
    try (Reader in = new InputStreamReader(is, "UTF-8")) {
        for (;;) {
            int rsz = in.read(buffer, 0, buffer.length);
            if (rsz < 0)
                break;
            out.append(buffer, 0, rsz);
        }
    }
    catch (UnsupportedEncodingException ex) {
        /* ... */
    }
    catch (IOException ex) {
        /* ... */
    }
    return out.toString();
}

Answer #5:

Use the code below:

InputStream in = /* Your InputStream */;
StringBuilder sb = new StringBuilder();
BufferedReader br = new BufferedReader(new InputStreamReader(in));
String read;

while ((read=br.readLine()) != null) {
    //System.out.println(read);
    sb.append(read);
}

br.close();
return sb.toString();

Convert InputStream to String- Answer #6:

This is the best pure Java solution that fits perfectly for Android and any other JVM.

This solution works amazingly well… it is simple, fast, and works on small and large streams just the same!! (see benchmark above.. No. 8)

public String readFullyAsString(InputStream inputStream, String encoding)
        throws IOException {
    return readFully(inputStream).toString(encoding);
}

public byte[] readFullyAsBytes(InputStream inputStream)
        throws IOException {
    return readFully(inputStream).toByteArray();
}

private ByteArrayOutputStream readFully(InputStream inputStream)
        throws IOException {
    ByteArrayOutputStream baos = new ByteArrayOutputStream();
    byte[] buffer = new byte[1024];
    int length = 0;
    while ((length = inputStream.read(buffer)) != -1) {
        baos.write(buffer, 0, length);
    }
    return baos;
}

Answer #7:

I did a benchmark upon 14 distinct answers here (sorry for not providing credits but there are too many duplicates).

The result is very surprising. It turns out that Apache IOUtils is the slowest and ByteArrayOutputStream is the fastest solutions:

So first here is the best method:

public String inputStreamToString(InputStream inputStream) throws IOException {
    try(ByteArrayOutputStream result = new ByteArrayOutputStream()) {
        byte[] buffer = new byte[1024];
        int length;
        while ((length = inputStream.read(buffer)) != -1) {
            result.write(buffer, 0, length);
        }

        return result.toString(UTF_8);
    }
}

Benchmark results, of 20 MB random bytes in 20 cycles

Time in milliseconds

  • ByteArrayOutputStreamTest: 194
  • NioStream: 198
  • Java9ISTransferTo: 201
  • Java9ISReadAllBytes: 205
  • BufferedInputStreamVsByteArrayOutputStream: 314
  • ApacheStringWriter2: 574
  • GuavaCharStreams: 589
  • ScannerReaderNoNextTest: 614
  • ScannerReader: 633
  • ApacheStringWriter: 1544
  • StreamApi: Error
  • ParallelStreamApi: Error
  • BufferReaderTest: Error
  • InputStreamAndStringBuilder: Error

Benchmark source code

import com.google.common.io.CharStreams;
import org.apache.commons.io.IOUtils;

import java.io.*;
import java.nio.ByteBuffer;
import java.nio.channels.Channels;
import java.nio.channels.ReadableByteChannel;
import java.nio.channels.WritableByteChannel;
import java.util.Arrays;
import java.util.List;
import java.util.Random;
import java.util.stream.Collectors;

/**
 * Created by Ilya Gazman on 2/13/18.
 */
public class InputStreamToString {


    private static final String UTF_8 = "UTF-8";

    public static void main(String... args) {
        log("App started");
        byte[] bytes = new byte[1024 * 1024];
        new Random().nextBytes(bytes);
        log("Stream is ready\n");

        try {
            test(bytes);
        } catch (IOException e) {
            e.printStackTrace();
        }
    }

    private static void test(byte[] bytes) throws IOException {
        List<Stringify> tests = Arrays.asList(
                new ApacheStringWriter(),
                new ApacheStringWriter2(),
                new NioStream(),
                new ScannerReader(),
                new ScannerReaderNoNextTest(),
                new GuavaCharStreams(),
                new StreamApi(),
                new ParallelStreamApi(),
                new ByteArrayOutputStreamTest(),
                new BufferReaderTest(),
                new BufferedInputStreamVsByteArrayOutputStream(),
                new InputStreamAndStringBuilder(),
                new Java9ISTransferTo(),
                new Java9ISReadAllBytes()
        );

        String solution = new String(bytes, "UTF-8");

        for (Stringify test : tests) {
            try (ByteArrayInputStream inputStream = new ByteArrayInputStream(bytes)) {
                String s = test.inputStreamToString(inputStream);
                if (!s.equals(solution)) {
                    log(test.name() + ": Error");
                    continue;
                }
            }
            long startTime = System.currentTimeMillis();
            for (int i = 0; i < 20; i++) {
                try (ByteArrayInputStream inputStream = new ByteArrayInputStream(bytes)) {
                    test.inputStreamToString(inputStream);
                }
            }
            log(test.name() + ": " + (System.currentTimeMillis() - startTime));
        }
    }

    private static void log(String message) {
        System.out.println(message);
    }

    interface Stringify {
        String inputStreamToString(InputStream inputStream) throws IOException;

        default String name() {
            return this.getClass().getSimpleName();
        }
    }

    static class ApacheStringWriter implements Stringify {

        @Override
        public String inputStreamToString(InputStream inputStream) throws IOException {
            StringWriter writer = new StringWriter();
            IOUtils.copy(inputStream, writer, UTF_8);
            return writer.toString();
        }
    }

    static class ApacheStringWriter2 implements Stringify {

        @Override
        public String inputStreamToString(InputStream inputStream) throws IOException {
            return IOUtils.toString(inputStream, UTF_8);
        }
    }

    static class NioStream implements Stringify {

        @Override
        public String inputStreamToString(InputStream in) throws IOException {
            ReadableByteChannel channel = Channels.newChannel(in);
            ByteBuffer byteBuffer = ByteBuffer.allocate(1024 * 16);
            ByteArrayOutputStream bout = new ByteArrayOutputStream();
            WritableByteChannel outChannel = Channels.newChannel(bout);
            while (channel.read(byteBuffer) > 0 || byteBuffer.position() > 0) {
                byteBuffer.flip();  //make buffer ready for write
                outChannel.write(byteBuffer);
                byteBuffer.compact(); //make buffer ready for reading
            }
            channel.close();
            outChannel.close();
            return bout.toString(UTF_8);
        }
    }

    static class ScannerReader implements Stringify {

        @Override
        public String inputStreamToString(InputStream is) throws IOException {
            java.util.Scanner s = new java.util.Scanner(is).useDelimiter("\\A");
            return s.hasNext() ? s.next() : "";
        }
    }

    static class ScannerReaderNoNextTest implements Stringify {

        @Override
        public String inputStreamToString(InputStream is) throws IOException {
            java.util.Scanner s = new java.util.Scanner(is).useDelimiter("\\A");
            return s.next();
        }
    }

    static class GuavaCharStreams implements Stringify {

        @Override
        public String inputStreamToString(InputStream is) throws IOException {
            return CharStreams.toString(new InputStreamReader(
                    is, UTF_8));
        }
    }

    static class StreamApi implements Stringify {

        @Override
        public String inputStreamToString(InputStream inputStream) throws IOException {
            return new BufferedReader(new InputStreamReader(inputStream))
                    .lines().collect(Collectors.joining("\n"));
        }
    }

    static class ParallelStreamApi implements Stringify {

        @Override
        public String inputStreamToString(InputStream inputStream) throws IOException {
            return new BufferedReader(new InputStreamReader(inputStream)).lines()
                    .parallel().collect(Collectors.joining("\n"));
        }
    }

    static class ByteArrayOutputStreamTest implements Stringify {

        @Override
        public String inputStreamToString(InputStream inputStream) throws IOException {
            try(ByteArrayOutputStream result = new ByteArrayOutputStream()) {
                byte[] buffer = new byte[1024];
                int length;
                while ((length = inputStream.read(buffer)) != -1) {
                    result.write(buffer, 0, length);
                }

                return result.toString(UTF_8);
            }
        }
    }

    static class BufferReaderTest implements Stringify {

        @Override
        public String inputStreamToString(InputStream inputStream) throws IOException {
            String newLine = System.getProperty("line.separator");
            BufferedReader reader = new BufferedReader(new InputStreamReader(inputStream));
            StringBuilder result = new StringBuilder(UTF_8);
            String line;
            boolean flag = false;
            while ((line = reader.readLine()) != null) {
                result.append(flag ? newLine : "").append(line);
                flag = true;
            }
            return result.toString();
        }
    }

    static class BufferedInputStreamVsByteArrayOutputStream implements Stringify {

        @Override
        public String inputStreamToString(InputStream inputStream) throws IOException {
            BufferedInputStream bis = new BufferedInputStream(inputStream);
            ByteArrayOutputStream buf = new ByteArrayOutputStream();
            int result = bis.read();
            while (result != -1) {
                buf.write((byte) result);
                result = bis.read();
            }

            return buf.toString(UTF_8);
        }
    }

    static class InputStreamAndStringBuilder implements Stringify {

        @Override
        public String inputStreamToString(InputStream inputStream) throws IOException {
            int ch;
            StringBuilder sb = new StringBuilder(UTF_8);
            while ((ch = inputStream.read()) != -1)
                sb.append((char) ch);
            return sb.toString();
        }
    }

    static class Java9ISTransferTo implements Stringify {

        @Override
        public String inputStreamToString(InputStream inputStream) throws IOException {
            ByteArrayOutputStream bos = new ByteArrayOutputStream();
            inputStream.transferTo(bos);
            return bos.toString(UTF_8);
        }
    }

    static class Java9ISReadAllBytes implements Stringify {

        @Override
        public String inputStreamToString(InputStream inputStream) throws IOException {
            return new String(inputStream.readAllBytes(), UTF_8);
        }
    }

}

Hope you learned something from this post.

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