Base64 Encode

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Base64 Encode

Base64 plays a vital role in modern computing and internet technologies. It is a cornerstone in data transmission and storage solutions across diverse digital platforms.

Base64 encoding is used in OpenSSL, Kubernetes secrets, email applications, and many other technologies.

Binary data can be converted into ASCII characters, like images and documents, safely transmitted over text-based channels like e-mails and URLs.

SMTP relay on Base64 because it was designed to transport 7-bit ASCII characters for sending e-mail attachments.


Base64 encoding is a technique that converts binary data into ASCII characters. It is useful for transmitting data over channels supporting text, such as email or URLs. 

It was named "Base64" because it uses 64 possible values for representing binary data. This means there are six bits for representing a single Base64 character (2⁶ = 64).

In this article, we will explain how base64 encoding works, how to encode and decode data using base64, and some common applications of base64 encoding.

History of base64 encoding

The concept of Base64 encoding traces its sources back to the early days of computing when binary data needed to be transmitted through channels that only supported text. 

The technique was first introduced in the 1970s as part of the Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions (MIME) specification, which standardized email messages and their attachments. 

Initially, Base64 encoding found its primary application in email systems. The need for a reliable method to encode binary data for safe transmission became obvious as the internet expanded. 

Base64 became an integral part of various internet protocols, including HTTP, where it's used for transmitting data such as images within web applications.

With the rise of web development and the widespread use of data-intensive applications, Base64 encoding gained prominence. Its simplicity and efficiency led to its adoption in web technologies for tasks like embedding images directly into HTML and CSS files, reducing the number of server requests, and improving website performance.

Over the years, Base64 encoding has evolved alongside digital communication technologies. Its versatility has ensured its continued relevance, making it a fundamental aspect of data transmission, storage, and processing in the digital age. 

How Base64 Encoding Works?

Base64 encoding is a method used to convert binary data into a text-based format, making it suitable for safe transmission in systems that handle text. In this process, every three bytes (24 bits) of binary data are grouped into four 6-bit chunks. These 6-bit chunks are then mapped to 64 ASCII characters, including uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers 0-9, and the "+" and "/" symbols.

Each character represents a specific 6-bit pattern. By combining these patterns, Base64 can represent any sequence of binary data. Padding characters, usually "=", are added at the end of the encoded text if the binary data is not divisible by 3, ensuring a fixed-length output.

Why Base64 instead of ASCII?

Base64 encoding is used instead of ASCII for specific purposes where binary data needs to be represented in a text format that is both compact and safe for transmission across different systems. Here's why Base64 is preferred over ASCII in certain scenarios:

  1. Binary Data Representation: ASCII can represent only a limited range of characters, primarily English letters, digits, and basic symbols. Base64, on the other hand, can represent any binary data, including non-textual and special characters, making it suitable for encoding images, sound files, or encrypted data.
  2. Compactness: Base64 encoding uses a larger set of characters (64 compared to ASCII's 128) to represent the same amount of data. This results in a more compact representation of binary data, making it more efficient in storage and transmission.
  3. Safety in Transmission: Some channels, especially those designed for text, can misinterpret or alter certain ASCII control characters during transmission. Base64 encoding ensures the safe passage of data through these channels, as it represents binary data using only printable ASCII characters, eliminating the risk of misinterpretation.
  4. Binary-to-Text Conversion: Base64 is specifically designed for converting binary data into a text format. While ASCII primarily represents text characters, Base64 is adept at handling binary information, making it invaluable in scenarios where textual representation is insufficient.
  5. Standardization: Base64 encoding is widely standardized and consistent across different platforms and programming languages. This consistency ensures that data encoded in Base64 can be decoded correctly by any system following the Base64 standard, promoting interoperability.

In summary, Base64 is chosen over ASCII when there is a need to represent binary data accurately, efficiently, and safely in textual form, especially in contexts where data integrity, compactness, and standardization are paramount.

How to do Base64 encode in Python?

In Python, we do the Base64 encoding with `base64` module. Let's break down the code step by step.

import base64
msg = "Hello world!"
encoded = base64.b64encode(bytes(msg, encoding='utf-8'))

Importing the base64 Module

import base64

The code begins by importing the base64 module, which provides functions for encoding and decoding data in Base64 format.

Defining the Input String

msg = "Hello world!"

In this illustration, the input message 'Hello world!' is a sample string we aim to encode in Base64 format. Please feel free to modify the message to suit your specific requirements.

Encoding the String into Base64

encoded = base64.b64encode(bytes(msg, encoding='utf-8'))

In this line, the bytes() function converts the msg variable value into bytes using UTF-8 encoding. Then, the base64.b64encode() function encodes these bytes into Base64 format. The resulting Base64 encoded data is stored in the variable encoded.

Decoding and Printing the Base64 Data


Finally, the encoded Base64 data is decoded back into a UTF-8 string using encoded.decode('utf-8') and printed. This step is essential to display or use the Base64 data as a string in your Python program.

When you run this code, it will output the Base64 representation of the input string "Hello world!". This encoded data can be transmitted over text-based channels or stored in databases that only accept textual data.

How to do Base64 encoding in PHP?

In this PHP example, we explore the concept of Base64 encoding, a technique widely used in web development and data processing. Let's break down the code step by step.

$msg = "Hello world!";
$encoded = base64_encode($msg);
echo $encoded;

In this PHP script, the variable $msg holds the input string "Hello world!" that we want to encode. The base64_encode() function is then used to encode this string into Base64 format, and the result is stored in the variable $encoded.

Base64 Encoding in Go (Golang)

Base64 encoding in Go (or Golang) is straightforward, thanks to the built-in `encoding/base64` package. Base64 encoding is important when representing binary data in a text format, often used in web development and various data transmission scenarios. Let's explore how to perform Base64 encoding in Go with detailed explanations.

package main

import (

func main() {
    // The string to be encoded
    message := "Hello, Golang Base64 Encoding!"

    // Convert the string to bytes
    messageBytes := []byte(message)

    // Encode the bytes to Base64
    encodedMessage := base64.StdEncoding.EncodeToString(messageBytes)

    // Print the encoded Base64 string

Importing the encoding/base64 Package

First, import the `encoding/base64` package in your Go code. This package provides functions for Base64 encoding and decoding.

import (

Converting String to Bytes

Before encoding, your string needs to be converted into a byte slice, as Base64 encoding works on binary data. Use the []byte() conversion function for this purpose.

message := "Hello, Golang Base64 Encoding!"
messageBytes := []byte(message)

In this step, the message is the string you want to encode. messageBytes now holds the byte representation of your input string.

Encoding to Base64

Use the base64.StdEncoding.EncodeToString() function to encode the byte slice into a Base64 string. The StdEncoding is the standard encoding scheme defined by Base64.

encodedMessage := base64.StdEncoding.EncodeToString(messageBytes)

Here, encodedMessage stores the resulting Base64 encoded string.

Printing the Encoded String

Finally, you can print the encoded Base64 string.


Copy the above code and run your Go program; it will output the Base64 representation of your input string. This encoded data can be utilized in various contexts, such as embedding images in HTML, sending over APIs, or storing binary data in databases.

By understanding these steps, you can effectively use Base64 encoding in your Go applications. Base64 encoding provides a versatile solution for handling binary data as text, whether dealing with file uploads, data transmission, or cryptographic operations.

Implementing Base64 encoding in Go empowers you to work seamlessly with binary data in text-based environments, enhancing the flexibility and interoperability of your applications.


In this article, we've learned about Base64 history, how it works, and how to implement base64 encoder in Python and PHP.

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