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Mutex Class

A synchronization primitive that can also be used for interprocess synchronization.

Namespace: System.Threading
Assembly: mscorlib (in mscorlib.dll)

[ComVisibleAttribute(true)] 
public sealed class Mutex : WaitHandle
/** @attribute ComVisibleAttribute(true) */ 
public final class Mutex extends WaitHandle
ComVisibleAttribute(true) 
public final class Mutex extends WaitHandle

NoteNote

The HostProtectionAttribute attribute applied to this class has the following Resources property value: Synchronization | ExternalThreading. The HostProtectionAttribute does not affect desktop applications (which are typically started by double-clicking an icon, typing a command, or entering a URL in a browser). For more information, see the HostProtectionAttribute class or SQL Server Programming and Host Protection Attributes.

When two or more threads need to access a shared resource at the same time, the system needs a synchronization mechanism to ensure that only one thread at a time uses the resource. Mutex is a synchronization primitive that grants exclusive access to the shared resource to only one thread. If a thread acquires a mutex, the second thread that wants to acquire that mutex is suspended until the first thread releases the mutex.

You can use the WaitHandle.WaitOne method to request ownership of a mutex. The thread that owns a mutex can request the same mutex in repeated calls to WaitOne without blocking its execution. However, the thread must call the ReleaseMutex method the same number of times to release ownership of the mutex. The Mutex class enforces thread identity, so a mutex can be released only by the thread that acquired it. By contrast, the Semaphore class does not enforce thread identity.

If a thread terminates while owning a mutex, the mutex is said to be abandoned. The state of the mutex is set to signaled and the next waiting thread gets ownership. If no one owns the mutex, the state of the mutex is signaled. Beginning in version 2.0 of the .NET Framework, an AbandonedMutexException is thrown in the next thread that acquires the mutex. Prior to version 2.0 of the .NET Framework, no exception was thrown.

Caution noteCaution

An abandoned mutex indicates a serious error in the code. When a thread exits without releasing the mutex, the data structures protected by the mutex might not be in a consistent state. The next thread to request ownership of the mutex can handle this exception and proceed, if the integrity of the data structures can be verified.

Mutexes are of two types: local mutexes and named system mutexes. If you create a Mutex object using a constructor that accepts a name, it is associated with an operating-system object of that name. Named system mutexes are visible throughout the operating system, and can be used to synchronize the activities of processes. You can create multiple Mutex objects that represent the same named system mutex, and you can use the OpenExisting method to open an existing named system mutex.

A local mutex exists only within your process. It can be used by any thread in your process that has a reference to the local Mutex object. Each Mutex object is a separate local mutex.

// This example shows how a Mutex is used to synchronize access
// to a protected resource. Unlike Monitor, Mutex can be used with
// WaitHandle.WaitAll and WaitAny, and can be passed across
// AppDomain boundaries.
 
using System;
using System.Threading;

class Test
{
    // Create a new Mutex. The creating thread does not own the
    // Mutex.
    private static Mutex mut = new Mutex();
    private const int numIterations = 1;
    private const int numThreads = 3;

    static void Main()
    {
        // Create the threads that will use the protected resource.
        for(int i = 0; i < numThreads; i++)
        {
            Thread myThread = new Thread(new ThreadStart(MyThreadProc));
            myThread.Name = String.Format("Thread{0}", i + 1);
            myThread.Start();
        }

        // The main thread exits, but the application continues to
        // run until all foreground threads have exited.
    }

    private static void MyThreadProc()
    {
        for(int i = 0; i < numIterations; i++)
        {
            UseResource();
        }
    }

    // This method represents a resource that must be synchronized
    // so that only one thread at a time can enter.
    private static void UseResource()
    {
        // Wait until it is safe to enter.
        mut.WaitOne();

        Console.WriteLine("{0} has entered the protected area", 
            Thread.CurrentThread.Name);

        // Place code to access non-reentrant resources here.

        // Simulate some work.
        Thread.Sleep(500);

        Console.WriteLine("{0} is leaving the protected area\r\n", 
            Thread.CurrentThread.Name);
         
        // Release the Mutex.
        mut.ReleaseMutex();
    }
}

// This example shows how a Mutex is used to synchronize access
// to a protected resource. Unlike Monitor, Mutex can be used with
// WaitHandle.WaitAll and WaitAny, and can be passed across
// AppDomain boundaries.

import System.*;
import System.Threading.*;
import System.Threading.Thread;

class Test
{
    // Create a new Mutex. The creating thread does not own the
    // Mutex.
    private static Mutex mut = new Mutex();
    private static int numIterations = 1;
    private static int numThreads = 3;

    public static void main(String[] args)
    {
        // Create the threads that will use the protected resource.
        for (int i = 0; i < numThreads; i++) {
            Thread myThread = new Thread(new ThreadStart(MyThreadProc));
            myThread.set_Name(String.Format("Thread{0}", 
                String.valueOf(i + 1)));
            myThread.Start();
        }
    } //main

    // The main thread exits, but the application continues to
    // run until all foreground threads have exited.
    private static void MyThreadProc()
    {
        for (int i = 0; i < numIterations; i++) {
            UseResource();
        }
    } //MyThreadProc

    // This method represents a resource that must be synchronized
    // so that only one thread at a time can enter.
    private static void UseResource()
    {
        // Wait until it is safe to enter.
        mut.WaitOne();
        Console.WriteLine("{0} has entered the protected area", 
            Thread.get_CurrentThread().get_Name());

        // Place code to access non-reentrant resources here.
        // Simulate some work.
        Thread.Sleep(500);
        Console.WriteLine("{0} is leaving the protected area\r\n", 
            Thread.get_CurrentThread().get_Name());

        // Release the Mutex.
        mut.ReleaseMutex();
    } //UseResource
} //Test

This type is safe for multithreaded operations.

Windows 98, Windows 2000 SP4, Windows CE, Windows Millennium Edition, Windows Mobile for Pocket PC, Windows Mobile for Smartphone, Windows Server 2003, Windows XP Media Center Edition, Windows XP Professional x64 Edition, Windows XP SP2, Windows XP Starter Edition

The .NET Framework does not support all versions of every platform. For a list of the supported versions, see System Requirements.

.NET Framework

Supported in: 2.0, 1.1, 1.0

.NET Compact Framework

Supported in: 2.0, 1.0

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