10.1.7.7 The BINARY Operator

The BINARY operator casts the string following it to a binary string. This is an easy way to force a comparison to be done byte by byte rather than character by character. BINARY also causes trailing spaces to be significant.

mysql> SELECT 'a' = 'A';
        -> 1
mysql> SELECT BINARY 'a' = 'A';
        -> 0
mysql> SELECT 'a' = 'a ';
        -> 1
mysql> SELECT BINARY 'a' = 'a ';
        -> 0

BINARY str is shorthand for CAST(str AS BINARY).

The BINARY attribute in character column definitions has a different effect. A character column defined with the BINARY attribute is assigned the binary collation of the column character set. Every character set has a binary collation. For example, the binary collation for the latin1 character set is latin1_bin, so if the table default character set is latin1, these two column definitions are equivalent:

CHAR(10) BINARY
CHAR(10) CHARACTER SET latin1 COLLATE latin1_bin

The effect of BINARY as a column attribute differs from its effect prior to MySQL 4.1. Formerly, BINARY resulted in a column that was treated as a binary string. A binary string is a string of bytes that has no character set or collation, which differs from a nonbinary character string that has a binary collation. For both types of strings, comparisons are based on the numeric values of the string unit, but for nonbinary strings the unit is the character and some character sets support multi-byte characters. Section 11.4.2, “The BINARY and VARBINARY Types”.

The use of CHARACTER SET binary in the definition of a CHAR, VARCHAR, or TEXT column causes the column to be treated as a binary data type. For example, the following pairs of definitions are equivalent:

CHAR(10) CHARACTER SET binary
BINARY(10)

VARCHAR(10) CHARACTER SET binary
VARBINARY(10)

TEXT CHARACTER SET binary
BLOB