Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Static Objects - Garbage Collection

When I said 'Static Objects' I meant an Object whose reference is held by a static variable.

In Java, usually a class member (variable or method) is accessed in conjunction with an object of its class. In the case of static variables and methods, it is possible to use a class member without creating an instance of its class. A class with static members is known as a static class. In such cases, before a class instance is created, an object of its class will also be created by the JVM. The class object is allocated to the heap itself. The primordial class loader will load the class object. In the case of static classes, all the static members will also be instantiated along with the class object. Once the variable is initialized with data (typically an object), the variable remains in memory as long as the class that defines it stays in memory. If the primordial class loader loads class instances, they will stay in memory for the duration of the program and are not eligible for garbage collection. So static classes and associated static variables will never be garbage collected. Thus, using too many static variables leads to memory leaks.

Usage of static classes should be minimized as they stay in memory for the lifetime of the application.

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