WeakReference Class


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Represents a weak reference, which references an object while still allowing that object to be reclaimed by garbage collection.

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


	Flags = SecurityPermissionFlag.UnmanagedCode)]
public class WeakReference : ISerializable


Initializes a new instance of the WeakReference class, referencing the specified object.

System_CAPS_pubmethodWeakReference(Object, Boolean)

Initializes a new instance of the WeakReference class, referencing the specified object and using the specified resurrection tracking.

System_CAPS_protmethodWeakReference(SerializationInfo, StreamingContext)

Initializes a new instance of the WeakReference class, using deserialized data from the specified serialization and stream objects.


Gets an indication whether the object referenced by the current WeakReference object has been garbage collected.


Gets or sets the object (the target) referenced by the current WeakReference object.


Gets an indication whether the object referenced by the current WeakReference object is tracked after it is finalized.


Determines whether the specified object is equal to the current object.(Inherited from Object.)


Discards the reference to the target represented by the current WeakReference object.(Overrides Object.Finalize().)


Serves as the default hash function. (Inherited from Object.)

System_CAPS_pubmethodGetObjectData(SerializationInfo, StreamingContext)

Populates a SerializationInfo object with all the data needed to serialize the current WeakReference object.


Gets the Type of the current instance.(Inherited from Object.)


Creates a shallow copy of the current Object.(Inherited from Object.)


Returns a string that represents the current object.(Inherited from Object.)

A weak reference allows the garbage collector to collect an object while still allowing an application to access the object. If you need the object, you can still obtain a strong reference to it and prevent it from being collected. For more information about how to use short and long weak references, see Weak References.

The following example demonstrates how you can use weak references to maintain a cache of objects as a resource for an application. The cache is constructed using an IDictionary<TKey, TValue> of WeakReference objects keyed by an index value. The Target property for the WeakReference objects is an object in a byte array that represents data.

The example randomly accesses objects in the cache. If an object is reclaimed for garbage collection, a new data object is regenerated; otherwise, the object is available to access because of the weak reference.

using System;
using System.Collections.Generic;

public class Program
    public static void Main()
        // Create the cache.
        int cacheSize = 50;
        Random r = new Random();
        Cache c = new Cache(cacheSize);

        string DataName = "";

        // Randomly access objects in the cache.
        for (int i = 0; i < c.Count; i++) {
            int index = r.Next(c.Count);

            // Access the object by getting a property value.
            DataName = c[index].Name;
        // Show results.
        double regenPercent = c.RegenerationCount/(double)c.Count;
        Console.WriteLine("Cache size: {0}, Regenerated: {1:P2}%", c.Count, regenPercent);

public class Cache
    // Dictionary to contain the cache.
    static Dictionary<int, WeakReference> _cache;

    // Track the number of times an object is regenerated.
    int regenCount = 0;   

    public Cache(int count)
        _cache = new Dictionary<int, WeakReference>();

        // Add objects with a short weak reference to the cache.
       for (int i = 0; i < count; i++) {
            _cache.Add(i, new WeakReference(new Data(i), false));

    // Number of items in the cache.
    public int Count
        get {  return _cache.Count; }

    // Number of times an object needs to be regenerated.
    public int RegenerationCount
        get { return regenCount; }

    // Retrieve a data object from the cache.
    public Data this[int index]
        get {
            Data d = _cache[index].Target as Data;
            if (d == null) {
                // If the object was reclaimed, generate a new one.
                Console.WriteLine("Regenerate object at {0}: Yes", index);
                d = new Data(index);
                _cache[index].Target = d;
            else {
                // Object was obtained with the weak reference.
                Console.WriteLine("Regenerate object at {0}: No", index);

            return d;

// This class creates byte arrays to simulate data.
public class Data
    private byte[] _data;
    private string _name;

    public Data(int size)
        _data = new byte[size * 1024];
        _name = size.ToString();

    // Simple property.
    public string Name
        get { return _name; }
// Example of the last lines of the output:
// ...
// Regenerate object at 36: Yes
// Regenerate object at 8: Yes
// Regenerate object at 21: Yes
// Regenerate object at 4: Yes
// Regenerate object at 38: No
// Regenerate object at 7: Yes
// Regenerate object at 2: Yes
// Regenerate object at 43: Yes
// Regenerate object at 38: No
// Cache size: 50, Regenerated: 94%


for the ability to call unmanaged code. Demand value: InheritanceDemand; Permission value: UnmanagedCode

Universal Windows Platform
Available since 8
.NET Framework
Available since 1.1
Portable Class Library
Supported in: portable .NET platforms
Available since 2.0
Windows Phone Silverlight
Available since 7.0
Windows Phone
Available since 8.1

Any public static ( Shared in Visual Basic) members of this type are thread safe. Any instance members are not guaranteed to be thread safe.

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