< cpp‎ | io‎ | c
Defined in header <cstdio>
int setvbuf( std::FILE* stream, char* buffer, int mode, std::size_t size );

Changes the buffering mode of the given file stream stream as indicated by the argument mode. In addition,

  • If buffer is a null pointer, resizes the internal buffer to size.
  • If buffer is not a null pointer, instructs the stream to use the user-provided buffer of size size beginning at buffer. The stream must be closed (with std::fclose) before the lifetime of the array pointed to by buffer ends. The contents of the array after a successful call to std::setvbuf are indeterminate and any attempt to use it is undefined behavior.


[edit] Parameters

stream - the file stream to set the buffer to
buffer - pointer to a buffer for the stream to use or null pointer to change size and mode only
mode - buffering mode to use. It can be one of the following values:
_IOFBF full buffering
_IOLBF line buffering
_IONBF no buffering
size - size of the buffer

[edit] Return value

0 on success or nonzero on failure.

[edit] Notes

This function may only be used after stream has been associated with an open file, but before any other operation (other than a failed call to std::setbuf/std::setvbuf).

Not all size bytes will necessarily be used for buffering: the actual buffer size is usually rounded down to a multiple of 2, a multiple of page size, etc.

On many implementations, line buffering is only available for terminal input streams.

A common error is setting the buffer of stdin or stdout to an array whose lifetime ends before the program terminates:

int main() {
    char buf[BUFSIZ];
    std::setbuf(stdin, buf);
} // lifetime of buf ends, undefined behavior

The default buffer size BUFSIZ is expected to be the most efficient buffer size for file I/O on the implementation, but POSIX fstat often provides a better estimate.

[edit] Example

one use case for changing buffer size is when a better size is known

#include <iostream>
#include <cstdio>
#include <cstdlib>
#include <sys/stat.h>
int main()
    std::FILE* fp = std::fopen("/tmp/test.txt", "w+");
    if(!fp) {
       std::perror("fopen"); return EXIT_FAILURE;
    struct stat stats;
    if(fstat(fileno(fp), &stats) == -1) { // POSIX only
        std::perror("fstat"); return EXIT_FAILURE;
    std::cout << "BUFSIZ is " << BUFSIZ << ", but optimal block size is "
              << stats.st_blksize << '\n';
    if(std::setvbuf(fp, nullptr, _IOFBF, stats.st_blksize) != 0) {
       std::perror("setvbuf failed"); // POSIX version sets errno
       return EXIT_FAILURE;
    // read entire file: use truss/strace
    // to observe the read(2) syscalls used
    for (int ch; (ch = std::fgetc(fp)) != EOF; ) {}
    return EXIT_SUCCESS;

Possible output:

BUFSIZ is 8192, but optimal block size is 65536

[edit] See also

sets the buffer for a file stream
(function) [edit]
provides user-supplied buffer or turns this filebuf unbuffered
(virtual protected member function of std::basic_filebuf<CharT,Traits>) [edit]
C documentation for setvbuf