Invalid length for a Base-64 char array

As the title says, I am getting:

Invalid length for a Base-64 char

I have read about this problem on here and it seems that the
suggestion is to store ViewState in SQL if it is large. I am
using a wizard with a good deal of data collection so chances
are my ViewState is large. But, before I turn to the “store-in-DB”
solution, maybe somebody can take a look and tell me if I have
other options?

I construct the email for delivery using the below method:

public void SendEmailAddressVerificationEmail(string userName, string to)
    string msg = "Please click on the link below or paste it into a browser to verify your email account.<BR><BR>" +
                    "<a href="" + _configuration.RootURL + "Accounts/VerifyEmail.aspx?a=" +
                    userName.Encrypt("verify") + "">" +
                    _configuration.RootURL + "Accounts/VerifyEmail.aspx?a=" +
                    userName.Encrypt("verify") + "</a>";

    SendEmail(to, "", "", "Account created! Email verification required.", msg);

The Encrypt method looks like this:

public static string Encrypt(string clearText, string Password)

    byte[] clearBytes = System.Text.Encoding.Unicode.GetBytes(clearText);

    PasswordDeriveBytes pdb = new PasswordDeriveBytes(Password, new byte[] { 0x49, 0x76, 0x61, 0x6e, 0x20, 0x4d, 0x65, 0x64, 0x76, 0x65, 0x64, 0x65, 0x76 });

    byte[] encryptedData = Encrypt(clearBytes, pdb.GetBytes(32), pdb.GetBytes(16));

    return Convert.ToBase64String(encryptedData);

Here is what the HTML looks like in hotmail:

Please click on the link below or
paste it into a browser to verify your
email account.


On the receiving end, the VerifyEmail.aspx.cs page has the line:

 string username = Cryptography.Decrypt(_webContext.UserNameToVerify, "verify");

Here is the getter for UserNameToVerify:

public string UserNameToVerify
        return GetQueryStringValue("a").ToString();

And here is the GetQueryStringValue method:

private static string GetQueryStringValue(string key)
    return HttpContext.Current.Request.QueryString.Get(key);

And the decrypt method looks like:

public static string Decrypt(string cipherText, string password)

    byte[] cipherBytes = Convert.FromBase64String(cipherText);

Can this error be remedied with a code fix or must I store ViewState in the database?


Thank you for visiting the Q&A section on Magenaut. Please note that all the answers may not help you solve the issue immediately. So please treat them as advisements. If you found the post helpful (or not), leave a comment & I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

Method 1

The length of a base64 encoded string is always a multiple of 4. If it is not a multiple of 4, then = characters are appended until it is. A query string of the form ?name=value has problems when the value contains = charaters (some of them will be dropped, I don’t recall the exact behavior). You may be able to get away with appending the right number of = characters before doing the base64 decode.

Edit 1

You may find that the value of UserNameToVerify has had "+"‘s changed to " "‘s so you may need to do something like so:

a = a.Replace(" ", "+");

This should get the length right;

int mod4 = a.Length % 4;
if (mod4 > 0 )
    a += new string('=', 4 - mod4);

Of course calling UrlEncode (as in LukeH’s answer) should make this all moot.

Method 2

My guess is that you simply need to URL-encode your Base64 string when you include it in the querystring.

Base64 encoding uses some characters which must be encoded if they’re part of a querystring (namely + and /, and maybe = too). If the string isn’t correctly encoded then you won’t be able to decode it successfully at the other end, hence the errors.

You can use the HttpUtility.UrlEncode method to encode your Base64 string:

string msg = "Please click on the link below or paste it into a browser "
             + "to verify your email account.<br /><br /><a href=""
             + _configuration.RootURL + "Accounts/VerifyEmail.aspx?a="
             + HttpUtility.UrlEncode(userName.Encrypt("verify")) + "">"
             + _configuration.RootURL + "Accounts/VerifyEmail.aspx?a="
             + HttpUtility.UrlEncode(userName.Encrypt("verify")) + "</a>";

Method 3

I’m not Reputable enough to upvote or comment yet, but LukeH’s answer was spot on for me.

As AES encryption is the standard to use now, it produces a base64 string (at least all the encrypt/decrypt implementations I’ve seen). This string has a length in multiples of 4 (string.length % 4 = 0)

The strings I was getting contained + and = on the beginning or end, and when you just concatenate that into a URL’s querystring, it will look right (for instance, in an email you generate), but when the the link is followed and the .NET page recieves it and puts it into this.Page.Request.QueryString, those special characters will be gone and your string length will not be in a multiple of 4.

As the are special characters at the FRONT of the string (ex: +), as well as = at the end, you can’t just add some = to make up the difference as you are altering the cypher text in a way that doesn’t match what was actually in the original querystring.

So, wrapping the cypher text with HttpUtility.URLEncode (not HtmlEncode) transforms the non-alphanumeric characters in a way that ensures .NET parses them back into their original state when it is intepreted into the querystring collection.

The good thing is, we only need to do the URLEncode when generating the querystring for the URL. On the incoming side, it’s automatically translated back into the original string value.

Here’s some example code

string cryptostring = MyAESEncrypt(MySecretString);
string URL = WebFunctions.ToAbsoluteUrl("~/ResetPassword.aspx?RPC=" + HttpUtility.UrlEncode(cryptostring));

Method 4

My initial guess without knowing the data would be that the UserNameToVerify is not a multiple of 4 in length. Check out the FromBase64String on msdn.

// Ok
byte[] b1 = Convert.FromBase64String("CoolDude");
// Exception
byte[] b2 = Convert.FromBase64String("MyMan");

Method 5

The encrypted string had two special characters, + and =.

‘+’ sign was giving the error, so below solution worked well:

//replace + sign

encryted_string = encryted_string.Replace("+", "%2b");

//`%2b` is HTTP encoded string for **+** sign


//encode special charactes 

encryted_string = HttpUtility.UrlEncode(encryted_string);

//then pass it to the decryption process

Method 6

    string stringToDecrypt = CypherText.Replace(" ", "+");
    int len = stringToDecrypt.Length;
    byte[] inputByteArray = Convert.FromBase64String(stringToDecrypt);

Method 7

While Encrypting use


While Decrypting,


        value = HttpUtility.UrlDecode(value);
        value = value.Replace(" ", "+");//to remove any empty spaces
        value = value.Replace('-', '+').Replace('_', '/');//replace special char
        while (value.Length % 4 != 0) value += '='; //it should be divisible by 4 or append =

Then send this value for decryption

All methods was sourced from or, is licensed under cc by-sa 2.5, cc by-sa 3.0 and cc by-sa 4.0

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