What is a memory leak on a computer. What is a memory leak on a computer

2. In the case of computer security, a leak is the disclosure of confidential information. For example, Edward Snowden released classified information from the NSA to the mainstream media in 2013.

Diagnosing and Fixing Memory Leaks in Python

Fugue uses Python extensively throughout our SaaS cloud security product and in our support tools, due to its ease of use, extensive package library, and powerful language tools. One of the things we learned while creating complex software for the cloud is that a language is only as good as its debugging and profiling tools. Logic errors, CPU power spikes, and memory leaks are inevitable, but a good debugger, CPU profiler, and memory profiler can make finding these errors much easier and faster, allowing our developers to go back to building a dynamic Fugue cloud orchestration and enforcement system. Let’s look at a specific case.

In the fall, our metrics reported that a Python Fugue component called a floodlight was experiencing random reboots and instability after a few days of downtime. The memory usage analysis showed that the memory consumption of the spotlight increased monotonically and continuously, indicating a memory leak tracemalloc, a powerful memory tracking tool in the standard Python library, made it possible to quickly diagnose and repair the leak. We found that the memory leak was related to the use of requests, a popular third-party Python HTTP library. Rewriting the component to use urllib from the standard Python library eliminated the memory leak. We’ll go over the details in this blog post.


The metrics show the problem: Percentage of total system memory used by spotlight when using the request library.

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Memory Allocation in Python

In most scenarios, you don’t need to understand Python memory management other than knowing that the interpreter manages memory for you. However, when writing large, complex Python programs with high stability requirements, it’s worth looking behind the scenes to understand how to write code that works well with Python’s memory management algorithms. It’s worth noting that Python uses reference counting and garbage collection to free up memory blocks and free memory on the system only when certain internal requirements are met. A pure Python script will never have direct control over the memory allocation in the interpreter. If direct control over memory allocation is desired, the interpreter’s memory allocation can be bypassed by writing or using an extension.

Basically, Python is a garbage collector that uses reference counting. The interpreter automatically allocates memory for objects as they are created, and keeps track of the number of references to those objects in the data structure associated with the object itself. This memory will be freed when the reference count for these objects reaches zero. In addition, garbage collection will detect cycles and delete objects referenced only in cycles. Any byte of memory allocated in the Python interpreter can be freed between the two mechanisms, but no claims can be made about the memory allocated in extensions.

Freeing memory in Python does not immediately release memory at the system level. When the entire arena is marked free, its memory is freed by the Python interpreter and returned to the system. However, this can rarely happen due to memory fragmentation.

Due to these abstractions, memory usage in Python often exhibits watermark behavior, where peak memory usage determines memory usage for the remainder of the execution, regardless of whether or not memory is actively being used. Moreover, the relationship between “freeing” memory in code and returning to the system is unclear and unpredictable. This behavior makes it very difficult to fully understand the memory usage of complex Python programs.

The biggest enemy of PC memory is memory leakage. There are many reasons for a memory leak, but the most common is programming oversight.

How to Detect a Memory Leak

When your system is running low on memory, you will most likely see an on-screen warning message of “Memory low: Performance starts to slow and the system malfunctions.

You can find a memory leak by checking your system’s RAM usage. Running Windows Performance Monitor can help you find a memory leak. You won’t find the source of the leak with this method, but it will help you investigate if there’s a memory link.

To start Performance Monitor, hold down Windows Key + R simultaneously to open the Run command. Then enter mdsched.exe.

Then click OK and select Restart Now to check for problems. The test will start and may take several hours to complete. Follow the on-screen instructions after the test is complete to detect memory leaks.

The Consequences of Memory Leaks

The consequences depend on the use of client or server applications. Their scope is given below.

Client Applications (Desktops and Mobile Phones)

For them, the consequences are not very serious, since the allocated memory is freed when the application is closed. So there is no system instability. Some of the problems encountered by excessive memory usage may be:

  • Your system may start to slow down.
  • Applications on the computer may suddenly close.
  • Computer application code that allocates memory can crash and cause errors.

Server Applications

In this case, the memory leak problem increases as the server has to run for a long time without rebooting. The problems here are the same as with desktop applications. Memory is consumed for days, weeks, months and server performance starts to decline. Errors start popping up that cause the server to eventually stop working.

Outdated device drivers can cause various problems such as missing hardware device connection with code 45, missing D3DCOMPILER_47.dll file we discussed here, and so on.

Use the Windows 10 built-in tools

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  1. Go to Search, type Memory Diagnostic Tool and open it.
  2. Select Restart Now and check for problems, and don’t forget to save your work before restarting.

Windows 10 has its own built-in diagnostic tools that are often sufficient to provide a thorough analysis to help determine the cause of the problem.

These types of tools scan your computer for potential memory problems, including memory leaks, and provide a precise diagnosis of any problems detected.

  1. Go to Search, type Resource Monitor and open it.
  2. It allows you to view data about the system in real time.

Check for driver updates

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  1. Go to Search, type Device Manager and open it.
  2. Check for any driver that has a yellow exclamation mark next to it.
  3. Right-click it and select Update Driver Software…
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