Encoding VS Encryption | What’s the Difference

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Although encoding and encryption both are related to data security, they are quite different in nature. So, if you are here to know the difference between encoding and encryption, here it is.

Encoding is changing the format of any data. So, to secure a piece of information, you encode it into a different format and decode it back to its original format later.

Encryption, on the other hand, is securing a piece of information with a security key. That information can later be decrypted only by using the same security key.

Continue reading below to find out more about encoding vs encryption in detail.


What is Encoding?

Encoding is one of the most well-known words in communication. It turns the actual messages into coded bits. It used an encoder to do this. The message is gone through an encoder which is a combined circuit that turns real data signals into another coded data. It uses logic gates in the circuit to do this. People use a decoder to get the actual information. You can learn more about encoding and decoding here.

What is Encryption?

Encryption data is also called ciphertext. Encryption is mainly used for security purposes in communication. This process turns the real information or messages into random data. For this only sender or receiver or you can say the client or server can understand the real information. Generally, a cryptographic key is used to convert these data. Both sender and receiver need this key. Your pdf files or other files like excel files, USB flash drives, zip file. etc can also be encrypted and decrypted too.

The Similarities Between Encoding and Encryption

There are some similarities between both ways. They are given below:

  • Both encoding and encryption are used for security purposes.
  • In both ways, real information is turned into a random thing.
  • The right device or key can convert the random data into real data.
  • Both encoding and decoding use logical ways to convert real data.

The Differences Between Encoding and Encryption

The differences between encoding and encryption are described below.

  • Secret Key: Encryption needs a secret key. But Encoding does not need a secret thing.
  • Difficulty: Some people can decode encoded messages without a decoder. But without the exact key, you cannot encrypt the message.
  • Secure: Encryption is more secured than encoding.
  • Usability: A decoder is an encoder that is publicly available. Anyone can use it. But the secret key of an encrypted message is only available to its sender and receiver.

If you are still confused, here’s a comparison chart for you.

Operation MethodChanges file formatEncrypts files using key
Unlocking MethodCan sometimes be decoded with any decoderCan only be decrypted with the original security key
Ease of useEasier to useA bit complex than encoding
SecurityLess secureMore secure

Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

What is encoding and its types?

There are four basic types of encoding. They are: Unipolar, Polar, Bipolar and Manchester.

Is ascii encryption or encoding?

The ASCII or American Standard Code for Information Interchange is an encoding method which is the most commonly used one for texts.

Can encryption be hacked?

Yes, it can. But not without the encryption key. So, the hackers try to steal or intercept the encryption key to decrypt a particular file.


The main use of encoding is ensuring data usability while encryption focuses on data security and confidentiality. Both are important security features and are used in almost all the tech you use. We hope we were able to make the concepts clearer to you. Thanks for reading.

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