Serialization Interface for Single Objects

Functions to write a single R object to a file, and to restore it.

file, connection
saveRDS(object, file = "", ascii = FALSE, version = NULL, compress = TRUE, refhook = NULL)
readRDS(file, refhook = NULL)
R object to serialize.
a connection or the name of the file where the R object is saved to or read from.
a logical. If TRUE, an ASCII representation is written; otherwise (default except for text-mode connections), a binary one is used. See the comments in the help for save.
the workspace format version to use. NULL specifies the current default version (2). Versions prior to 2 are not supported, so this will only be relevant when there are later versions.
a logical specifying whether saving to a named file is to use "gzip" compression, or one of "gzip", "bzip2" or "xz" to indicate the type of compression to be used. Ignored if file is a connection.
a hook function for handling reference objects.

These functions provide the means to save a single R object to a connection (typically a file) and to restore the object, quite possibly under a different name. This differs from save and load, which save and restore one or more named objects into an environment. They are widely used by R itself, for example to store metadata for a package and to store the databases: the ".rds" file extension is most often used.

Functions serialize and unserialize provide a slightly lower-level interface to serialization: objects serialized to a connection by serialize can be read back by readRDS and conversely.

All of these interfaces use the same serialization format, which has been used since R 1.4.0 (but extended from time to time as new object types have been added to R). However, save writes a single line header (typically "RDXs\n") before the serialization of a single object (a pairlist of all the objects to be saved).

Compression is handled by the connection opened when file is a file name, so is only possible when file is a connection if handled by the connection. So e.g. url connections will needed to be wrapped in a call to gzcon.

If a connection is supplied it will be opened (in binary mode) for the duration of the function if not already open: if it is already open it must be in binary mode for saveRDS(ascii = FALSE) (the default).


For readRDS, an R object.For saveRDS, NULL invisibly.

See Also

serialize, save and load.

The ‘R Internals’ manual for details of the format used.

  • readRDS
  • saveRDS
library(base) ## save a single object to file saveRDS(women, "women.rds") ## restore it under a different name women2 <- readRDS("women.rds") identical(women, women2) ## or examine the object via a connection, which will be opened as needed. con <- gzfile("women.rds") str(readRDS(con)) close(con) ## Less convenient ways to restore the object ## which demonstrate compatibility with unserialize() con <- gzfile("women.rds", "rb") identical(unserialize(con), women) close(con) con <- gzfile("women.rds", "rb") wm <- readBin(con, "raw", n = 1e4) # size is a guess close(con) identical(unserialize(wm), women) ## Format compatibility with serialize(): con <- file("women2", "w") serialize(women, con) # ASCII, uncompressed close(con) identical(women, readRDS("women2")) con <- bzfile("women3", "w") serialize(women, con) # binary, bzip2-compressed close(con) identical(women, readRDS("women2"))
Documentation reproduced from package base, version 3.0.3, License: Part of R 3.0.3

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