Java Language File I/O Reading a file using Channel and Buffer


Channel uses a Buffer to read/write data. A buffer is a fixed sized container where we can write a block of data at once. Channel is a quite faster than stream-based I/O.

To read data from a file using Channel we need to have the following steps-

  1. We need an instance of FileInputStream. FileInputStreamhas a method named getChannel() which returns a Channel.
  2. Call the getChannel() method of FileInputStream and acquire Channel.
  3. Create a ByteBuffer. ByteBuffer is a fixed size container of bytes.
  4. Channel has a read method and we have to provide a ByteBuffer as an argument to this read method. ByteBuffer has two modes - read-only mood and write-only mood. We can change the mode using flip() method call. Buffer has a position, limit, and capacity. Once a buffer is created with a fixed size, its limit and capacity are the same as the size and the position starts from zero. While a buffer is written with data, its position gradually increases. Changing mode means, changing the position. To read data from the beginning of a buffer, we have to set the position to zero. flip() method change the position
  5. When we call the read method of the Channel, it fills up the buffer using data.
  6. If we need to read the data from the ByteBuffer, we need to flip the buffer to change its mode to write-only to read-only mode and then keep reading data from the buffer.
  7. When there is no longer data to read, the read() method of channel returns 0 or -1.
import java.nio.ByteBuffer;
import java.nio.channels.FileChannel;

public class FileChannelRead {
public static void main(String[] args) {
   File inputFile = new File("hello.txt");
   if (!inputFile.exists()) {
    System.out.println("The input file doesn't exit.");

  try {
   FileInputStream fis = new FileInputStream(inputFile);
   FileChannel fileChannel = fis.getChannel();
   ByteBuffer buffer = ByteBuffer.allocate(1024);

   while ( > 0) {
    while (buffer.hasRemaining()) {
     byte b = buffer.get();
     System.out.print((char) b);

  } catch (IOException e) {