Destructors in C++

What is destructor?
Destructor is a member function which destructs or deletes an object.

When is destructor called?
A destructor function is called automatically when the object goes out of scope:
(1) the function ends
(2) the program ends
(3) a block containing local variables ends
(4) a delete operator is called 
How destructors are different from a normal member function?
Destructors have same name as the class preceded by a tilde (~)
Destructors don’t take any argument and don’t return anything

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class String
{
private:
    char *s;
    int size;
public:
    String(char *); // constructor
    ~String();      // destructor
};
 
String::String(char *c)
{
    size = strlen(c);
    s = new char[size+1];
    strcpy(s,c);
}
 
String::~String()
{
    delete []s;
}

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Can there be more than one destructor in a class?
No, there can only one destructor in a class with classname preceded by ~, no parameters and no return type.

When do we need to write a user-defined destructor?
If we do not write our own destructor in class, compiler creates a default destructor for us. The default destructor works fine unless we have dynamically allocated memory or pointer in class. When a class contains a pointer to memory allocated in class, we should write a destructor to release memory before the class instance is destroyed. This must be done to avoid memory leak.

Can a destructor be virtual?
Yes, In fact, it is always a good idea to make destructors virtual in base class when we have a virtual function. See virtual destructor for more details.

You may like to take a quiz on destructors.

Related Articles :
Constructors in C++
Virtual Destructor
Pure virtual destructor in C++

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