base (version 3.5.2)

readRDS: Serialization Interface for Single Objects


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


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 or NA, an ASCII representation is written; otherwise (default), 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), which has been the default since R 1.4.0. The only other supported value is 3, introduced in R 3.5.0.


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.


For readRDS, an R object.

For saveRDS, NULL invisibly.


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 need 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) or to read non-ASCII saves.

See Also

serialize, save and load.

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


Run this code
fil <- tempfile("women", fileext = ".rds")
## save a single object to file
saveRDS(women, fil)
## restore it under a different name
women2 <- readRDS(fil)
identical(women, women2)
## or examine the object via a connection, which will be opened as needed.
con <- gzfile(fil)

## Less convenient ways to restore the object
## which demonstrate compatibility with unserialize()
con <- gzfile(fil, "rb")
identical(unserialize(con), women)
con <- gzfile(fil, "rb")
wm <- readBin(con, "raw", n = 1e4) # size is a guess
identical(unserialize(wm), women)

## Format compatibility with serialize():
fil2 <- tempfile("women")
con <- file(fil2, "w")
serialize(women, con) # ASCII, uncompressed
identical(women, readRDS(fil2))
fil3 <- tempfile("women")
con <- bzfile(fil3, "w")
serialize(women, con) # binary, bzip2-compressed
identical(women, readRDS(fil3))

unlink(c(fil, fil2, fil3))
# }

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