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Data Hiding vs. Encapsulation: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on February 25, 2024
Data hiding is the practice of restricting data access in a program, while encapsulation involves bundling data and methods together, often using data hiding as a technique.

Key Differences

Data hiding primarily focuses on securing data by limiting access, ensuring that internal data structures are not directly accessible. Encapsulation, on the other hand, is about combining data and the methods that operate on that data into a single unit, like a class in object-oriented programming.
In data hiding, access to data is restricted using techniques like private and protected access modifiers. Encapsulation uses these modifiers as part of its strategy, but its main goal is to keep the data and the methods that modify it together, controlling how the outside world interacts with the object.
Data hiding is implemented in programming through the use of private and protected variables that cannot be accessed directly from outside the class. Encapsulation goes a step further by not only hiding the data but also providing public methods (like getters and setters) to manipulate this data in a controlled manner.
Data hiding is a subset of encapsulation, often seen as a technique to achieve the latter. While encapsulation is a fundamental principle of object-oriented programming, encompassing both data and behavior, data hiding specifically refers to the protection of the data itself.
The purpose of data hiding is to protect object integrity by preventing unauthorized access. Encapsulation, while also offering protection, primarily aims to bundle data with its relevant operations, promoting modularity and making code more maintainable and understandable.

Comparison Chart

Primary Focus

Restricting data access
Bundling data with methods


Private/protected modifiers
Combining data and methods in classes


Protect data integrity
Organize and protect data and behaviors

Relation to Object-Oriented

A technique within encapsulation
A fundamental principle

Accessibility to Outside World

Generally not accessible
Accessible through public methods

Data Hiding and Encapsulation Definitions

Data Hiding

Data hiding restricts direct access to an object's internal state.
By using private variables, our class achieves data hiding.


Encapsulation allows control over how data is accessed and modified.
Through encapsulation, we ensure data is altered only through specific methods.

Data Hiding

Data hiding is ensuring data is not exposed to unauthorized users.
Data hiding prevents external functions from altering internal data directly.


Encapsulation ensures that data is not accessed directly.
Encapsulation in our system prevents direct modification of internal variables.

Data Hiding

Data hiding involves concealing the implementation details of a class.
Data hiding keeps the class's internal processes private.


Encapsulation hides the internal state of an object from the outside.
Our object's encapsulation secures its data from external changes.

Data Hiding

Data hiding is a technique to reduce system complexity.
Through data hiding, we simplified the user interface.


Encapsulation binds together data and the methods that modify it.
Encapsulation in our class keeps data and its operations in one place.

Data Hiding

Data hiding protects data by making it accessible only through methods.
Our data hiding strategy involves exclusive use of getter and setter methods.


Encapsulation is a principle of object-oriented programming.
We use encapsulation to enhance code readability and reusability.


To encase in or as if in a capsule.


To express in a brief summary; epitomize
Headlines that encapsulate the news.


To become encapsulated.


The act of enclosing in a capsule; the growth of a membrane around (any part) so as to enclose it in a capsule.


Grouping together an object’s ‘state’ (its data) and the operations that may alter or interrogate it (its methods).


(networking) The process of arranging data into packets that can be transmitted using a given protocol.


The act of inclosing in a capsule; the growth of a membrane around (any part) so as to inclose it in a capsule.


The condition of being enclosed (as in a capsule);
The encapsulation of tendons in membranous sheaths


The process of enclosing (as in a capsule)


What is data hiding?

It's a practice in programming to restrict direct access to an object's data.

How does encapsulation benefit programming?

It enhances code organization, maintainability, and security.

Does encapsulation always ensure security?

It improves security but should be part of a broader security strategy.

Can encapsulation exist without data hiding?

Technically yes, but data hiding is often a key aspect of encapsulation.

Can data hiding be achieved in non-object-oriented languages?

Yes, through techniques like closures or module patterns.

Can data hiding affect the functionality of a program?

If poorly implemented, it can limit necessary access, but generally, it enhances functionality.

How does encapsulation help with code maintenance?

By keeping related data and behavior together, it makes code easier to understand and modify.

Is data hiding just about making variables private?

Largely, but it also involves thoughtful design to limit direct access to data.

What is encapsulation?

Encapsulation is bundling data and methods in a class, often using data hiding.

Why is data hiding important?

It protects data integrity and prevents unauthorized or accidental modifications.

Is encapsulation relevant in procedural programming?

While more common in OOP, principles of encapsulation can be applied in procedural programming for better structure.

How does encapsulation affect an object’s interface?

It simplifies the interface by exposing only necessary methods for data interaction.

Can encapsulation lead to performance issues?

Rarely, as any overhead is usually outweighed by the benefits in design and maintainability.

How does data hiding reduce complexity?

By hiding internal details, it simplifies the external interface of a module.

Are there any disadvantages to data hiding?

Overuse can lead to overly complex or inflexible designs.

Does data hiding limit data sharing between objects?

It controls it, ensuring data is shared in a safe, predefined manner.

Is encapsulation mandatory in object-oriented programming?

While not mandatory, it's a highly recommended and widely adopted practice.

How do data hiding and encapsulation impact testing?

They can make unit testing more straightforward by clearly defining the boundaries and interfaces of a class.

What is the relationship between encapsulation and inheritance?

Encapsulation defines what is inherited and how; it controls the visibility of properties in subclasses.

How do you balance data hiding and functionality?

By providing necessary access through well-designed interfaces and methods.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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