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Base32 is one of several base 32 transfer encodings. Base32 uses a 32-character set comprising the twenty-six upper-case letters A–Z, and the digits 2–7.
Base32 is primarily used to encode binary data, but Base32 is also able to encode binary text like ASCII.
Base32 has a number of advantages over Base64:
- The resulting character set is all one case, which can often be beneficial when using a case-insensitive filesystem, spoken language, or human memory.
- The result can be used as a file name because it cannot possibly contain the '/' symbol, which is the Unix path separator.
- The alphabet can be selected to avoid similar-looking pairs of different symbols, so the strings can be accurately transcribed by hand. (For example, the RFC 4648 symbol set omits the digits for one, eight and zero, since they could be confused with the letters 'I', 'B', and 'O'.)
- A result excluding padding can be included in a URL without encoding any characters.
Base32 also has advantages over hexadecimal/Base16:
- Base32 representation takes roughly 20% less space. (1000 bits takes 200 characters, compared to 250 for Base16)