ClickHouse Resource Safety: Implementing RAII and Destructors


In ClickHouse’s C++ codebase, efficient resource management and preventing resource leaks are crucial for ensuring stable and high-performance data processing. C++ provides the powerful RAII (Resource Acquisition Is Initialization) idiom, which allows resources to be automatically acquired during object construction and automatically released during object destruction. By implementing destructors using RAII, ClickHouse can avoid resource leaks and efficiently manage memory, file handles, and other resources. This article explores best practices for implementing destructors in ClickHouse using C++, emphasizing the use of smart pointers and custom classes for robust resource management.

In ClickHouse, resource management and cleanup are primarily handled by the RAII (Resource Acquisition Is Initialization) principle, which relies on constructors and destructors of C++ classes. The key idea is that resources are acquired during object construction and released automatically during object destruction. ClickHouse’s C++ codebase extensively uses smart pointers and custom classes to manage resources, and you can follow the same approach when working with ClickHouse code.

Guidelines for implementing Destructors in ClickHouse

Here are some guidelines for implementing destructors and avoiding resource leaks in ClickHouse using C++:

  1. Smart Pointers:
    • Use smart pointers like std::shared_ptr, std::unique_ptr, and std::weak_ptr to manage resources such as memory, file handles, and network connections.
    • Smart pointers automatically handle deallocation of resources when they are no longer in use, even if exceptions occur.
  2. Custom Classes:
    • Create custom C++ classes to manage resources that don’t have built-in smart pointer support.
    • Implement the destructor of the custom class to release any acquired resources properly.
  3. Use RAII Idiom:
    • Practice RAII by acquiring resources in constructors and releasing them in destructors.
    • For example, if you allocate memory using new in a constructor, deallocate it using delete in the destructor.
  4. Exception Safety:
    • Make sure your destructors handle exceptions gracefully to avoid resource leaks.
    • If an exception occurs during an operation in the destructor, it should not escape the destructor. Catch the exception and handle it appropriately.
  5. Use try…catch Blocks:
    • If your destructor may throw an exception, consider wrapping the destructor’s body in a try…catch block to handle exceptions locally.
  6. Avoid Manual Resource Management:
    • In general, prefer using smart pointers and standard C++ classes to manage resources over manual resource management with new and delete.

Here’s a simplified example of how a custom class can be used to manage resources in ClickHouse:

#include <iostream>
#include <memory>

class ResourceHolder {
    ResourceHolder() {
        // Acquire resource during construction (e.g., allocate memory)
        data = new int[1000];

    ~ResourceHolder() {
        // Release resource during destruction (e.g., deallocate memory)
        delete[] data;

    // Other member functions and data members go here...

    int* data;

int main() {
    // Use smart pointers to automatically handle resource cleanup
    std::unique_ptr<ResourceHolder> resource = std::make_unique<ResourceHolder>();

    // ResourceHolder is automatically destructed when it goes out of scope, releasing the acquired resource.
    return 0;

By following these guidelines and adhering to RAII principles, you can effectively manage resources in ClickHouse’s C++ codebase, avoiding resource leaks and ensuring efficient memory and resource usage.


Effective resource management is a fundamental aspect of building a performant and reliable data processing system in ClickHouse’s C++ codebase. By adhering to RAII principles, utilizing smart pointers, and creating custom classes for resource management, ClickHouse can ensure proper cleanup and avoid resource leaks. The RAII idiom simplifies resource management by automatically releasing resources when they go out of scope, even in the presence of exceptions. By following these best practices, ClickHouse can optimize memory usage, prevent resource leaks, and achieve exceptional performance in real-time analytics and data processing applications.

About Shiv Iyer 215 Articles
Open Source Database Systems Engineer with a deep understanding of Optimizer Internals, Performance Engineering, Scalability and Data SRE. Shiv currently is the Founder, Investor, Board Member and CEO of multiple Database Systems Infrastructure Operations companies in the Transaction Processing Computing and ColumnStores ecosystem. He is also a frequent speaker in open source software conferences globally.