Monday, June 16, 2008


For the majority of the objects that your application creates, you can rely on the CLR’s garbage collector to automatically perform all the necessary memory management tasks. However, some objects encapsulate unmanaged resources and those resources must be released explicitly. Although the garbage collector is able to track the lifetime of an object that encapsulates an unmanaged resource, it does not have specific knowledge about how to clean up the resource. For these types of objects, the .NET Framework provides the Object.Finalize method, which allows an object to clean up its unmanaged resources properly when the garbage collector reclaims the memory used by the object. By default, the Finalize method does nothing. If you want the garbage collector to perform cleanup operations on your object before it reclaims the object's memory, you must override the Finalize method in your class. You must use destructor syntax for your finalization code in the C# and the C++ with Managed Extensions.
The garbage collector keeps track of objects that have Finalize methods, using an internal structure called the finalization queue. Each time your application creates an object that has a Finalize method, the garbage collector places an entry in the finalization queue that points to that object. The finalization queue contains entries for all the objects in the managed heap that need to have their finalization code called before the garbage collector can reclaim their memory.
Implementing Finalize methods or destructors can have a negative impact on performance, so you should avoid using them unnecessarily. Reclaiming the memory used by objects with Finalize methods requires at least two garbage collections. When the garbage collector performs a collection, it reclaims the memory for inaccessible objects without finalizers. At this time, it cannot collect the inaccessible objects that do have finalizers. Instead, it removes the entries for these objects from the finalization queue and places them in a list of objects marked as ready for finalization. Entries in this list point to the objects in the managed heap that are ready to have their finalization code called. A special runtime thread becomes active and calls the Finalize methods for the objects in this list and then removes the entries from the list. A future garbage collection will determine that the finalized objects are truly garbage because they are no longer pointed to by entries in the list. In this future garbage collection, the objects' memory is actually reclaimed.
The following diagram shows the GC state transition that an object goes through during its lifetime.

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