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11009 - What is Leaking Memory? (3 April 2000)

by - Joseph Ganci

Could someone please define leaks as used on the list? I have read about memory leaks often and am not sure what that means.

When a piece of code, be it a function or an entire application, is running, it requires some memory for it to run. Think of memory as the water in a pool. When Windows (or the Mac OS) starts, it takes out some of the water to use in its own little wading pool. When it is done, it is supposed to completely empty the wading pool back into the main pool, releasing that memory for other applications to use.

If you run enough applications at the same time on your system, especially heavy ones such as Outlook or Word, you will eventually receive notification that you are running low on system resources, which almost all center on available memory. That's because each application has taken water out of the pool and the pool is near empty. Try jumping in that pool and you're liable to break your neck.

If a function or an application doesn't release the memory it used, then it is considered a leak, meaning that every time you run that function or application during your current Windows session, there will be less and less memory available to you. The pool, in other words, is not being replenished by the misbehaving function or app and it appears to be leaking. Sooner or later, problems will start to occur. That's why programmers writing functions and applications should follow Miss Manners and create properly behaving code.

NOW I understand!!


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