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Java FileReader encoding issue

I tried to use to read some text files and convert them into a string, but I found the result is wrongly encoded and not readable at all.

Here’s my environment:

  • Windows 2003, OS encoding: CP1252

  • Java 5.0

My files are UTF-8 encoded or CP1252 encoded, and some of them (UTF-8 encoded files) may contain Chinese (non-Latin) characters.

I use the following code to do my work:

   private static String readFileAsString(String filePath)
        StringBuffer fileData = new StringBuffer(1000);
        FileReader reader = new FileReader(filePath);
        BufferedReader reader = new BufferedReader(reader);
        char[] buf = new char[1024];
        int numRead=0;
        while(( != -1){
            String readData = String.valueOf(buf, 0, numRead);
            buf = new char[1024];
        return fileData.toString();

The above code doesn’t work. I found the FileReader’s encoding is CP1252 even if the text is UTF-8 encoded. But the JavaDoc of says that:

The constructors of this class assume that the default character encoding and the default byte-buffer size are appropriate.

Does this mean that I am not required to set character encoding by myself if I am using FileReader? But I did get wrongly encoded data currently, what’s the correct way to deal with my situtaion? Thanks.



Yes, you need to specify the encoding of the file you want to read.

Yes, this means that you have to know the encoding of the file you want to read.

No, there is no general way to guess the encoding of any given “plain text” file.

The one-arguments constructors of FileReader always use the platform default encoding which is generally a bad idea.

Since Java 11 FileReader has also gained constructors that accept an encoding: new FileReader(file, charset) and new FileReader(fileName, charset).

In earlier versions of java, you need to use new InputStreamReader(new FileInputStream(pathToFile), <encoding>).

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