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How can I free an array or hash so my program shrinks?

by faq_monk (Initiate)
on Oct 08, 1999 at 00:12 UTC ( #538=perlfaq nodetype: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??

Current Perl documentation can be found at perldoc.perl.org.

Here is our local, out-dated (pre-5.6) version:

You can't. On most operating systems, memory allocated to a program can never be returned to the system. That's why long-running programs sometimes re-exec themselves. Some operating systems (notably, FreeBSD) allegedly reclaim large chunks of memory that is no longer used, but it doesn't appear to happen with Perl (yet). The Mac appears to be the only platform that will reliably (albeit, slowly) return memory to the OS.

However, judicious use of my() on your variables will help make sure that they go out of scope so that Perl can free up their storage for use in other parts of your program. A global variable, of course, never goes out of scope, so you can't get its space automatically reclaimed, although undef()ing and/or delete()ing it will achieve the same effect. In general, memory allocation and de-allocation isn't something you can or should be worrying about much in Perl, but even this capability (preallocation of data types) is in the works.

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