UTF-8 vs UTF-16: Difference and Comparison

Profoundly computers deal with numbers, and every character, punctuation, alphabet, symbol, etc., is assigned by the different numbers in the computer.

Before the invention of the Unicode character, there were numerous methods to assign a number to different characters, including character encoding.

Unicode is formally a method that provides unique numbers to different characters besides different platforms, devices, applications, or languages.

Key Takeaways

  1. UTF-8 is a variable-length character encoding, while UTF-16 is a fixed-length character encoding.
  2. UTF-8 uses one to four bytes to represent characters, while UTF-16 uses two or four bytes.
  3. UTF-8 is commonly used for web pages and email, while UTF-16 is used for languages that require more than two bytes to represent characters.

Utf-8 vs Utf-16

The difference between UTF-8 and UTF-16 is that UTF-8 while encoding for any character of English or any number, uses 8 bits and adopts the 1-4 blocks, while comparatively the other hand, UTF-16, while encoding the characters and numbers, uses 16 bits with the implementation of 1-2 blocks. Also, the file size of the UTF-8 oriented requires less space, whereas the UTF-16 oriented file is twice the size of the UTF-8.

Utf 8 vs Utf 16

UTF-8 stands for the Unicode Transformation Format 8 uses 1-4 blocks implementation along with the 8 bits and identifies all the validated Unicode code points. The variable length of the UTF-8 is about 32 bits per character.

The UTF-8 was formed by two brilliant minds – Ken Thompson and Rob Pike in September 1992. It was created when they were busy creating the Plan 9 operating system, and it took them a week to formulate it.

UTF-16 stands for the Unicode Transformation Format 16, which uses 1-2 blocks implemented along the 16 bits to express a code point. In simple terms, a minimum of 2 bytes is required by the UTF-16 Unicode to express a code point.

UTF-16 also requires a variable length of up to 32 bits per character. UTF-16 was formed to overcome the accommodation of the number of code points.

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Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonUtf-8Utf-16
File Size It is smaller in size.It is larger in size in comparison.
ASCII Compatibility It is compatible with ASCII.It is not compatible with ASCII.
Byte OrientationIt is byte-oriented.It is not byte-oriented.
Error Recovery It is good in recovering from the errors made.It is not as good as in recovering from the errors made.
Number of bytesIn minimum case, it can only use up to 1 byte (8 bits).In minimum case, it can use up to 2 bytes (16 bits).
Number of blocksIt adopts 1-4 blocks.It has adopted 1-2 blocks.
EfficiencyMore efficientLess efficient
PopularityIt is more popular on the web.Doesn’t get much popularity.

What is Utf-8?

UTF-8 stands for the Unicode Transformation Format 8. It implements the 1-4 blocks with the 8 bits and then identifies all the valid code points for the Unicode.

The UTF-8 can formulate maximumly up to 2,097,152 code points. The first 128 code points are encoded by a single block consisting of 8 binary bits, and they are identical to the ASCII characters.

The brilliant minds behind the creation of UTF-8 are Ken Thompson and Rob Pike. They created it while planning 9 operating systems in the year 1992 September.

It was created in a week, and the International System of Organization (ISO) is ISO 10646. Also, it is the most widely accepted encoding format, and nearly 95% of all web pages are created based on the UTF-8 format.

utf 8

What is Utf-16?

UTF-16 stands for the Union Transformation Format 16. The implementation of the one or two bytes of the 16-bit blocks to express each of the code points. In simple terms, for representation of each code point in the UTF-16 requires a minimum of up to 2 bytes.

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The variable length of the UTF-16 expresses about 1,112,064 code points.

The UTF-16 file size is twice the size of the UTF-8. Because of this, the UTF-16 is considered less efficient. The UTF-16 is not byte-oriented, and also it is not compatible with ASCII characters.

The UTF-16 is the oldest encoding standard in the field of the Unicode series. The various application of UTF-16 is the use in Microsoft Windows, JavaScript, and Java programming internally.

utf 16

Main Differences Between Utf-8 and Utf-16

  1. The file size of the UTF-8 is smaller, while comparatively, on the other hand, the file size of the UTF-16 is twice the size of the UTF-8 file. 
  2. The UTF-8 shows compatibility with the ASCII characters encodings, while on the other hand, the UTF-16 doesn’t show any compatibility with the ASCII characters.
  3. The UTF-8 encoding is byte-oriented, while comparatively, on the other hand, the UTF-16 encoding is not byte-oriented. 
  4. The UTF-8 encoding is quite good in recovering from the errors made, while comparatively, on the other hand, the UTF-16 encoding is not as good in recovering from the errors made. 
  5. The UTF-8 uses at least one byte (8 bits), while comparatively, on the other hand, the UTF-16 uses at least one or two byte (16 bits). 
  6. UTF-8 implements about 1-4 blocks, while comparatively, on the other hand, UTF-16 implements about 1-2 blocks. 
  7. The UTF-8 is more efficient, while comparatively, on the other hand, the UTF-16 is less efficient. 
  8. The UTF-8 is more popular on the web, while comparatively, on the other hand, the UTF-16 doesn’t gain too much popularity on the web.
  1. https://dl.acm.org/doi/abs/10.1145/1345206.1345222
  2. https://www.proquest.com/openview/75078d4ece0a06f8cddd6cc9a719e8f9/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=2030006

Last Updated : 14 October, 2023

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25 thoughts on “UTF-8 vs UTF-16: Difference and Comparison”

  1. The distinctions between UTF-8 and UTF-16, particularly in terms of file size, ASCII compatibility, and byte orientation, were well-explained in the article.

    • I found the breakdown of the parameters of comparison very helpful in understanding the practical differences between UTF-8 and UTF-16.

  2. The comparison table provided a clear summary of the differences between UTF-8 and UTF-16. It’s helpful for understanding their respective applications.

  3. The article effectively highlighted the key differences between UTF-8 and UTF-16, especially concerning the number of bytes and blocks used. Informative read!

    • The overview of UTF-8 and UTF-16’s efficiency and file size gave me a better understanding of their practical implications. Thanks for sharing this knowledge.

    • I appreciated the emphasis on the efficiency and popularity of UTF-8 and UTF-16. It helped in understanding their usage and relevance.

  4. I found the detailed explanation of code points and the historical context of UTF-8 and UTF-16 very insightful. Well-written post!

    • The insights from the creators of UTF-8 and the breakdown of UTF-16’s file size were intriguing. Thank you for this informative article.

  5. I appreciated the detailed comparison of UTF-8 and UTF-16, as well as the explanation of their respective efficiencies and popularity. Well-structured article.

    • The clear explanations and historical background of UTF-8 and UTF-16 made this an insightful read. Thank you for sharing this knowledge.

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  6. The explanation of the file size, efficiency, and ASCII compatibility of UTF-8 and UTF-16 was insightful. This article provided a comprehensive understanding of these character encodings.

    • The historical context and creators’ insights on UTF-8 and UTF-16 added depth to the information shared. I found this article to be an enriching read.

  7. The article effectively covered the main differences between UTF-8 and UTF-16, offering valuable insights into their applications and practical implications. Informative content!

  8. The practical applications of UTF-8 and UTF-16, along with their differences in error recovery and byte orientation, were well-defined in this article. Very informative.

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  9. The explanation of the concepts behind UTF-8 and UTF-16 was thorough and easy to follow. I gained a better understanding of these character encoding standards.


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