Memory Leak

What Does Memory Leak Mean?

A memory leak is a process in which a program or application persistently retains a computer’s primary memory. It occurs when the resident memory program does not return or release allocated memory space, even after execution, resulting in slower or unresponsive system behavior.

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A memory leak is also known as a space leak.

Techopedia Explains Memory Leak

A memory leak is considered a failure or bug within the application/program that holds it. Memory leakage may be intended or unintended by the application/program, which may retain the application in memory to execute operations or remain frozen in an unrecoverable state. The resident program also may source/leak additional memory space without releasing the previously used space, leading to the exhaustion of memory resources and a poorly performing or frozen system.

A memory leak may be mitigated through specialized memory management software or by adding garbage collection functions to the application source code.

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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.