What Does Encode Mean?

To encode is to convert and store information in a digital file format. An encode (expressed as a noun) is the result of said process. Encoding typically involves compressing an input flow into media that can in turn be read, stored, transmitted and otherwise managed in a digital environment (such as a computer operating system).


Techopedia Explains Encode

Encode is a term that is broadly used in and out of the digital technology space. However, it generally refers to the same thing: to convert some form of information into content that serves a specific purpose or range of purposes. In digital computing, encoding almost exclusively refers to the creation of binary data from some external source (such as an analog media input feed).

Transcoding, similarly, creates an encoded file, however it specifically refers to creating an encode based off of a previous encode.


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Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.