STRCPY(3) Linux Programmer's Manual STRCPY(3)
strcpy, strncpy - copy a string
char *strcpy(char *dest, const char *src);
char *strncpy(char *dest, const char *src, size_t n);
The strcpy() function copies the string pointed to by src, including the terminating null
byte ('\0'), to the buffer pointed to by dest. The strings may not overlap, and the des-
tination string dest must be large enough to receive the copy. Beware of buffer overruns!
The strncpy() function is similar, except that at most n bytes of src are copied. Warn-
ing: If there is no null byte among the first n bytes of src, the string placed in dest
will not be null-terminated.
If the length of src is less than n, strncpy() writes additional null bytes to dest to
ensure that a total of n bytes are written.
A simple implementation of strncpy() might be:
strncpy(char *dest, const char *src, size_t n)
for (i = 0; i < n && src[i] != '\0'; i++)
dest[i] = src[i];
for ( ; i < n; i++)
dest[i] = '\0';
The strcpy() and strncpy() functions return a pointer to the destination string dest.
SVr4, 4.3BSD, C89, C99.
Some programmers consider strncpy() to be inefficient and error prone. If the programmer
knows (i.e., includes code to test!) that the size of dest is greater than the length of
src, then strcpy() can be used.
One valid (and intended) use of strncpy() is to copy a C string to a fixed-length buffer
while ensuring both that the buffer is not overflowed and that unused bytes in the target
buffer are zeroed out (perhaps to prevent information leaks if the buffer is to be written
to media or transmitted to another process via an interprocess communication technique).
If there is no terminating null byte in the first n bytes of src, strncpy() produces an
unterminated string in dest. You can force termination using something like the follow-
strncpy(buf, str, n);
if (n > 0)
buf[n - 1]= '\0';
(Of course, the above technique ignores the fact that information contained in src is lost
in the copying to dest.)
Some systems (the BSDs, Solaris, and others) provide the following function:
size_t strlcpy(char *dest, const char *src, size_t size);
This function is similar to strncpy(), but it copies at most size-1 bytes to dest, always
adds a terminating null byte, and does not pad the target with (further) null bytes. This
function fixes some of the problems of strcpy() and strncpy(), but the caller must still
handle the possibility of data loss if size is too small. The return value of the func-
tion is the length of src, which allows truncation to be easily detected: if the return
value is greater than or equal to size, truncation occurred. If loss of data matters, the
caller must either check the arguments before the call, or test the function return value.
strlcpy() is not present in glibc and is not standardized by POSIX, but is available on
Linux via the libbsd library.
If the destination string of a strcpy() is not large enough, then anything might happen.
Overflowing fixed-length string buffers is a favorite cracker technique for taking com-
plete control of the machine. Any time a program reads or copies data into a buffer, the
program first needs to check that there's enough space. This may be unnecessary if you
can show that overflow is impossible, but be careful: programs can get changed over time,
in ways that may make the impossible possible.
bcopy(3) , memccpy(3) , memcpy(3) , memmove(3) , stpcpy(3) , stpncpy(3) , strdup(3) , string(3) ,
wcscpy(3) , wcsncpy(3)
This page is part of release 3.55 of the Linux man-pages project. A description of the
project, and information about reporting bugs, can be found at
GNU 2012-07-19 STRCPY(3)