CreateStreamOnHGlobal function (combaseapi.h)

The CreateStreamOnHGlobal function creates a stream object that uses an HGLOBAL memory handle to store the stream contents. This object is the OLE-provided implementation of the IStream interface.

The returned stream object supports both reading and writing, is not transacted, and does not support region locking. The object calls the GlobalReAlloc function to grow the memory block as required.

Tip  Consider using the SHCreateMemStream function, which produces better performance, or for Windows Store apps, consider using InMemoryRandomAccessStream.


HRESULT CreateStreamOnHGlobal(
  [in]  HGLOBAL  hGlobal,
  [in]  BOOL     fDeleteOnRelease,
  [out] LPSTREAM *ppstm


[in] hGlobal

A memory handle allocated by the GlobalAlloc function, or if NULL a new handle is to be allocated instead. The handle must be allocated as moveable and nondiscardable.

[in] fDeleteOnRelease

A value that indicates whether the underlying handle for this stream object should be automatically freed when the stream object is released. If set to FALSE, the caller must free the hGlobal after the final release. If set to TRUE, the final release will automatically free the underlying handle. See the Remarks for further discussion of the case where fDeleteOnRelease is FALSE.

[out] ppstm

The address of IStream* pointer variable that receives the interface pointer to the new stream object. Its value cannot be NULL.

Return value

This function supports the standard return values E_INVALIDARG and E_OUTOFMEMORY, as well as the following.


If hGlobal is NULL, the function allocates a new memory handle and the stream is initially empty.

If hGlobal is not NULL, the initial contents of the stream are the current contents of the memory block. Thus, CreateStreamOnHGlobal can be used to open an existing stream in memory. The memory handle and its contents are undisturbed by the creation of the new stream object.

The initial size of the stream is the size of hGlobal as returned by the GlobalSize function. Because of rounding, this is not necessarily the same size that was originally allocated for the handle. If the logical size of the stream is important, follow the call to this function with a call to the IStream::SetSize method.

The new stream object’s initial seek position is the beginning of the stream.

After creating the stream object with CreateStreamOnHGlobal, call GetHGlobalFromStream to retrieve the memory handle associated with the stream object.

If a memory handle is passed to CreateStreamOnHGlobal or if GetHGlobalFromStream is called, the memory handle of this function can be directly accessed by the caller while it is still in use by the stream object. Appropriate caution should be exercised in the use of this capability and its implications:

  • Do not free the hGlobal memory handle during the lifetime of the stream object. IStream::Release must be called before freeing the memory handle.
  • Do not call GlobalReAlloc to change the size of the memory handle during the lifetime of the stream object or its clones. This may cause application crashes or memory corruption. Avoid creating multiple stream objects separately on the same memory handle, because the IStream::Write and IStream::SetSize methods may internally call GlobalReAlloc. The IStream::Clone method can be used to create a new stream object based on the same memory handle that will properly coordinate its access with the original stream object.
  • If possible, avoid accessing the memory block during the lifetime of the stream object, because the object may internally call GlobalReAlloc and do not make assumptions about its size and location. If the memory block must be accessed, the memory access calls should be surrounded by calls to GlobalLock and GlobalUnLock.
  • Avoid calling the object’s methods while you have the memory handle locked with GlobalLock. This can cause method calls to fail unpredictably.
If the fDeleteOnRelease parameter is FALSE, the caller is responsible for freeing the underlying memory handle, even if the hGlobal parameter is NULL. Use the GetHGlobalFromStream function to obtain the underlying memory handle and GlobalFree that memory after the last reference to the stream is released. If the caller sets the fDeleteOnRelease parameter to TRUE, the final release will automatically free the underlying memory handle.

The memory handle passed as the hGlobal parameter must be allocated as movable and nondiscardable, as shown in the following example:

HGLOBAL	hMem = ::GlobalAlloc(GMEM_MOVEABLE,iSize);
if (!hMem)

LPVOID pImage = ::GlobalLock(hMem);
... // Fill memory

CComPtr<IStream> spStream;
HRESULT hr = ::CreateStreamOnHGlobal(hMem,FALSE,&spStream);

CreateStreamOnHGlobal will accept a memory handle allocated with GMEM_FIXED, but this usage is not recommended. HGLOBALs allocated with GMEM_FIXED are not really handles and their value can change when they are reallocated. If the memory handle was allocated with GMEM_FIXED and fDeleteOnRelease is FALSE, the caller must call GetHGlobalFromStream to get the correct handle in order to free it.

Prior to Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2, this implementation did not zero memory when calling GlobalReAlloc to grow the memory block. Increasing the size of the stream with IStream::SetSize or by writing to a location past the current end of the stream may leave portions of the newly allocated memory uninitialized.


Requirement Value
Minimum supported client Windows 2000 Professional [desktop apps | UWP apps]
Minimum supported server Windows 2000 Server [desktop apps | UWP apps]
Target Platform Windows
Header combaseapi.h
Library Ole32.lib
DLL Ole32.dll

See also


IStream - Compound File Implementation