In what cases do I use malloc and/or new?


Question

I see in C++ there are multiple ways to allocate and free data and I understand that when you call malloc you should call free and when you use the new operator you should pair with delete and it is a mistake to mix the two (e.g. Calling free() on something that was created with the new operator), but I'm not clear on when I should use malloc/ free and when I should use new/ delete in my real world programs.

If you're a C++ expert, please let me know any rules of thumb or conventions you follow in this regard.

1
436
8/15/2019 6:53:43 AM

Unless you are forced to use C, you should never use malloc. Always use new.

If you need a big chunk of data just do something like:

char *pBuffer = new char[1024];

Be careful though this is not correct:

//This is incorrect - may delete only one element, may corrupt the heap, or worse...
delete pBuffer;

Instead you should do this when deleting an array of data:

//This deletes all items in the array
delete[] pBuffer;

The new keyword is the C++ way of doing it, and it will ensure that your type will have its constructor called. The new keyword is also more type-safe whereas malloc is not type-safe at all.

The only way I could think that would be beneficial to use malloc would be if you needed to change the size of your buffer of data. The new keyword does not have an analogous way like realloc. The realloc function might be able to extend the size of a chunk of memory for you more efficiently.

It is worth mentioning that you cannot mix new/free and malloc/delete.

Note: Some answers in this question are invalid.

int* p_scalar = new int(5);  // Does not create 5 elements, but initializes to 5
int* p_array  = new int[5];  // Creates 5 elements
347
7/3/2018 12:10:31 AM

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