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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.
A memory leak is also known as a space 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.