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Allocating and Releasing Memory for a BSTR

When you create BSTRs and pass them between COM objects, you must take care in treating the memory they use in order to avoid memory leaks. When a BSTR stays within an interface, you must free its memory when you are done with it. However, when a BSTR passes out of an interface, the receiving object takes responsibility for its memory management.

In general, the rules for allocating and releasing memory allocated for BSTRs are as follows:

  • When you call into a function that expects a BSTR argument, you must allocate the memory for the BSTR before the call and release it afterwards. For example:

    HRESULT CMyWebBrowser::put_StatusText(BSTR bstr)


    // shows using the Win32 function 
    // to allocate memory for the string: 
    BSTR bstrStatus = ::SysAllocString(L"Some text");
    if (bstrStatus != NULL)
       // Free the string:
  • When you call into a function that returns a BSTR, you must free the string yourself. For example:

    HRESULT CMyWebBrowser::get_StatusText(BSTR* pbstr)


    BSTR bstrStatus;
    // shows using the Win32 function 
    // to free the memory for the string: 
  • When you implement a function that returns a BSTR, allocate the string but do not free it. The receiving function releases the memory. For example:

    HRESULT CMyClass::get_StatusText(BSTR* pbstr)
          //m_str is a CString in your class
          *pbstr = m_str.AllocSysString();
       catch (...)
          return E_OUTOFMEMORY;
       // The client is now responsible for freeing pbstr.

See also

Strings (ATL/MFC)