May 31, 2022 By IBM Instana Team 2 min read

Memory leaks are common in almost any language—including garbage-collected languages—and Go is no exception. A reference to an object (if not properly managed) may be left assigned, even if unused. This usually happens on an application-logic level but can also be an issue inside an imported package.

Unfortunately, it’s hard to detect and fix memory leaks in development or staging environments—both because the production environment has different and more complex behavior and because many memory leaks take hours or even days to manifest themselves.

How to find memory leaks in production

Golang has a powerful profiling toolset called pprof that includes a heap allocation profiler. The heap profiler gives you the size of the allocated heap and the number of objects per stack trace (i.e., the source code location where the memory was allocated). This is critical information but is not sufficient as a single profile. To detect if there is an actual leak over a period of time, you need to record and compare regular allocation profiles.

Some issues when using pprof against production environments include the following:

  • The profiler’s HTTP handler, which accepts profiling requests, must attach itself to the application’s HTTP server or have one running. This means you should take extra security measures to protect the listening port.
  • Locating and accessing the application node’s host to run the go tool pprof may be tricky in container environments like Kubernetes.
  • If the application has crashed or can’t respond to the pprof request, no profiling is possible.
  • Obtaining the historical stack trace view of heap allocations—a regular manual pprof execution—requires interactive result analysis and comparison.

Using IBM Instana for automatic memory leak detection and profiling

The IBM Instana platform automates the collection of heap allocation profiles, solving the above-mentioned issues. The IBM Instana Go Profiler, initialized in the application, continuously records and reports allocation profiles to the dashboard.

See the IBM Instana Profiling documentation for detailed setup instructions. After the application is restarted or deployed, the profiles will be available in the dashboard in a historically comparable form.

Similar profile history is automatically available for CPU usage, blocking calls and HTTP handlers. CPU, memory and GC metrics from Go runtime are also automatically available in the dashboard.

If you aren’t already an IBM Instana user, you can get started with a free two-week trial
Was this article helpful?
YesNo

More from IBM Instana

Probable Root Cause: Accelerating incident remediation with causal AI 

5 min read - It has been proven time and time again that a business application’s outages are very costly. The estimated cost of an average downtime can run USD 50,000 to 500,000 per hour, and more as businesses are actively moving to digitization. The complexity of applications is growing as well, so Site Reliability Engineers (SREs) require hours—and sometimes days—to identify and resolve problems.   To alleviate this problem, we have introduced the new feature Probable Root Cause as part of Intelligent Incident…

Observe GenAI with IBM Instana Observability

6 min read - The emergence of generative artificial intelligence (GenAI), powered by large language models (LLMs) has accelerated the widespread adoption of artificial intelligence. GenAI is proving to be very effective in tackling a variety of complex use cases with AI systems operating at levels that are comparable to humans. Organisations are quickly realizing the value of AI and its transformative potential for business, adding trillions of dollars to the economy. Given this emerging landscape, IBM Instana Observability is on a mission to…

Average 219% ROI: The Total Economic Impact™ of IBM Instana Observability

2 min read - What can your organization achieve with a modern observability solution? Data from a new Forrester Consulting study showed that a composite organization that used the IBM Instana™ Observability platform achieved a 219% ROI over three years. Likewise, it saw a 90% reduction in troubleshooting time by providing high fidelity data to the right people at the right time. About the study IBM commissioned Forrester to conduct the Total Economic Impact™ (TEI) study by interviewing four clients about the value of their…

IBM Newsletters

Get our newsletters and topic updates that deliver the latest thought leadership and insights on emerging trends.
Subscribe now More newsletters