Fix Python – Convert python datetime to epoch with strftime

Question

Asked By – Noel

I have a time in UTC from which I want the number of seconds since epoch.

I am using strftime to convert it to the number of seconds. Taking 1st April 2012 as an example.

>>>datetime.datetime(2012,04,01,0,0).strftime('%s')
'1333234800'

1st of April 2012 UTC from epoch is 1333238400 but this above returns 1333234800 which is different by 1 hour.

So it looks like that strftime is taking my system time into account and applies a timezone shift somewhere. I thought datetime was purely naive?

How can I get around that? If possible avoiding to import other libraries unless standard. (I have portability concerns).

Now we will see solution for issue: Convert python datetime to epoch with strftime


Answer

If you want to convert a python datetime to seconds since epoch you could do it explicitly:

>>> (datetime.datetime(2012,4,1,0,0) - datetime.datetime(1970,1,1)).total_seconds()
1333238400.0

In Python 3.3+ you can use timestamp() instead:

>>> datetime.datetime(2012,4,1,0,0).timestamp()
1333234800.0

Why you should not use datetime.strftime('%s')

Python doesn’t actually support %s as an argument to strftime (if you check at http://docs.python.org/library/datetime.html#strftime-and-strptime-behavior it’s not in the list), the only reason it’s working is because Python is passing the information to your system’s strftime, which uses your local timezone.

>>> datetime.datetime(2012,04,01,0,0).strftime('%s')
'1333234800'

This question is answered By – jleahy

This answer is collected from stackoverflow and reviewed by FixPython community admins, is licensed under cc by-sa 2.5 , cc by-sa 3.0 and cc by-sa 4.0