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What Are the Best Tips for Memory Leak Detection?

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  • Written By: Troy Holmes
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 29 September 2016
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A memory leak is a common condition that happens when a software program misuses the memory in a computer. Memory leak detection is a process that requires the monitoring and auditing of the available memory in a computer. This is typically done with special memory-tracking software that monitors and audits the memory usage while computer programs are running.

The first step in detecting a memory leak is isolating the program causing the problem. This is best accomplished by ensuring the suspected application is the only program running on the computer. If the memory usage grows unexpectedly while the program is used, this is a sign of a memory leak. Once the memory leak is detected, further investigation can determine which part of the program is actually causing the leaking.

Memory leak detection is a complicated forensic investigation process. This requires an individual who understands computer software and operating systems. Most memory leaks are caused by bad software programs, which have misused the available resources of a computer. Finding these programs is a problem that requires a process of elimination to uncover the culprit program.

The easiest tool for memory leak detection in a Windows® operating system is task manager. This program sorts the current running programs by memory usage in a simple-to-read window. This window updates real-time and can be monitored to determine which program is causing the problem. Once the program is found, it can be turned off through the task manager application.

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A standard software program will use memory on a short-term, temporary basis. This will cause the memory to increase and decrease in a random fashion while the application is used. A memory leak happens when a program doesn’t free the memory back to the computer when the program is finished. Memory leak detection software can highlight the programs that are using excessive memory, making them easier to find.

A software performance profile program is a good memory leak detection tool. This program records the vital statistics of a computer system, while software programs are used. Many software performance tools are available on the Internet. These programs are designed to test the performance of newly developed software code and can also detect memory leaks.

Having a memory leak in a production system can wreak havoc on an organization. These leaks are typically hard to find and difficult to resolve once they are found. The best way to locate a memory leak is to use the operating system memory utilization tool. This tool is different for each computer operating system but gives the user a snapshot of the memory used by each software application.

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