Can using too many static variables cause a memory leak in Java?

Static methods are just methods, they are not stored on the heap, they just don’t get to use a “this” parameter.

Static variables serve as “roots” to the GC. As a result, unless you explicitly set them to null, they will live as long as the program lives, and so is everything reachable from them.

A situation is only considered a memory leak if you intend for the memory to become free and it doesn’t become free. If you intend for your static variable to contain a reference to an object for part of the time, and you forget to set it to null when you’re done with that object, you would likely end up with a leak. However, if you put it in the static variable and intend for it to be there for as long as the program is running, then it is most definitely not a leak, it is more likely a “permanent singleton”. If the object got reclaimed while you wanted it to still exist, that would have been very bad.

As for your question about the heap: All objects in Java exist either on the heap or on the stack. Objects are created on the heap with the new operator. A reference is then attached to them. If the reference becomes null or falls out of scope (e.g., end of block), the GC realizes that there is no way to reach that object ever again and reclaims it. If your reference is in a static variable, it never falls out of scope but you can still set it to null or to another object.

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