CSV vs Excel (.xls) – What’s the Difference?

Excel and CSV both help store data in tabular format. Besides this commonality, there are tons of differences in their respective features and usages. Let’s discuss these differences in detail this article

Difference between Excel Vs CSV

ExcelCSV
It is a binary file that holds information about all the worksheets in a workbookCSV stands for Comma Separated Values. It is a plain text format with a series of values separated by commas
An Excel not only stores data but can also do operations on the dataA CSV file is just a text file, it stores data but does not contain formatting, formulas, macros, etc. It is also known as flat files
Excel is a spreadsheet that saves files into its own proprietary format viz xls or xlsxCSV is a format for saving tabular information into a delimited text file with extension .csv
Files saved in excel cannot be opened or edited by text editorsCSV files can be opened or edited by text editors like notepad
In data-warehouse, Excel is preferable for detailed standardized schema specificationIn data-warehouse, CSV follows a fairly flat, simple schema
Any programming language library to parse Excel data is generally larger, slower and complicatedAny programming language to parse CSV data is trivial, generating it is extremely easy
With no clear distinction or separation between numeric values and text, Excel can mess up with your postal codes and credit card numbers with its auto formatting featuresCSV is safe and can clearly differentiate between the numeric values and text. CSV does not manipulate data and stores it as-is.
In Excel, you have to have a start tag and end tag for each column in each rowIn CSV, you write column headers only once
Excel consumes more memory while importing dataImporting CSV files can be much faster, and it also consumes less memory
Reading large files user is much easier in Excel for the end user. Also, you can have additional functions like selecting individual cells for import, convert dates and time automatically, reading formulas and their results, filters, sorting, etc.Reading large files in CSV will not be as easier as Excel for the End User
Apart from text, data can also be stored in form of charts and graphsEach record is stored as one line of a text file, and every newline signifies a new database row. CSV can not store charts or graphs
Excel file can be opened with Microsoft Excel doc onlyCSV can be opened with any text editor in Windows like notepad, MS Excel, Microsoft Works 9, etc.
Excel can connect to external data sources to fetch data. You can use custom add-in in Excel to increase its functionality. Excel allows for Review of Data with detailed tracking and commenting feature.All this functionality is not possible in CSV
As a developer, it’s difficult to programmatically manipulate Excel files since the Excel is proprietary. This is especially true for languages other than .NETAs a developer it’s easy to programmatically manipulate CSV since, after all, they are simple text files.

KEY DIFFERENCE

  • CSV is a format for saving tabular information into a delimited text file with extension .csv whereas Excel is a spreadsheet that keeps files into its own proprietary format viz xls or xlsx.
  • CSV is a plain text format with a series of values separated by commas whereas Excel is a binary file that holds information about all the worksheets in a workbook.
  • CSV file can’t perform operations on data while Excel can perform operations on the data.
  • CSV files are faster and also consumes less memory whereas Excel consumes more memory while importing data.
  • CSV files can be opened with any text editor in windows while Excel files can’t be opened with text editors.

Similarities between CSV and Excel Files

CSV is the acronym for “comma separated values”. It is used to store tabular data where the column names and row values are separated using commas. The following image illustrates this

  • Both can be opened in spreadsheet programs
  • Both store data in tabular formats i.e. columns and rows
  • Both can be manipulated using functions and features found in Excel.

The following screenshot shows a CSV file opened in Excel

Source: https://www.guru99.com/excel-vs-csv.html

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