Browse Definitions:


In computers, garbage has two related meanings:

1) From a user's perceptual point-of-view, garbage is often used to mean anything on your display screen that looks unreadable or unviewable. This can include looking at a graphics file, such as a Web Graphics Interchange Format file, with a text reader. Although this is simply an instance of using the wrong program to view a perfectly good file, the viewer is likely to think that what's presented is "garbage."

2) From a programming point-of-view, garbage is data that has been placed in random access memory space obtained from the operating system that is no longer needed. Freeing the space for reuse is called "garbage collecting." In the past, programmers have had to write programs that explicitly requested storage and then returned it to the system when it was no longer needed. (Programs that neglect to return unused storage can be shut down by the operating system.) The term "garbage collecting" apparently was first used in the LISP programming language. Java is a newer programming language that, like LISP, handles garbage-collecting for the program, freeing the programmer from being concerned about it.

This was last updated in April 2005

Start the conversation

Send me notifications when other members comment.

By submitting you agree to receive email from TechTarget and its partners. If you reside outside of the United States, you consent to having your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States. Privacy

Please create a username to comment.


File Extensions and File Formats

Powered by:


  • risk map (risk heat map)

    A risk map, also known as a risk heat map, is a data visualization tool for communicating specific risks an organization faces.

  • internal audit (IA)

    An internal audit (IA) is an organizational initiative to monitor and analyze its own business operations in order to determine ...

  • pure risk (absolute risk)

    Pure risk, also called absolute risk, is a category of threat that is beyond human control and has only one possible outcome if ...


  • federated identity management (FIM)

    Federated identity management (FIM) is an arrangement that can be made among multiple enterprises to let subscribers use the same...

  • cross-site scripting (XSS)

    Cross-site scripting (XSS) is a type of injection security attack in which an attacker injects data, such as a malicious script, ...

  • firewall

    In computing, a firewall is software or firmware that enforces a set of rules about what data packets will be allowed to enter or...



  • business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR)

    Business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) are closely related practices that describe an organization's preparation for ...

  • business continuity plan (BCP)

    A business continuity plan (BCP) is a document that consists of the critical information an organization needs to continue ...

  • call tree

    A call tree -- sometimes referred to as a phone tree -- is a telecommunications chain for notifying specific individuals of an ...


  • volume manager

    A volume manager is software within an operating system (OS) that controls capacity allocation for storage arrays.

  • external storage device

    An external storage device, also referred to as auxiliary storage and secondary storage, is a device that contains all the ...

  • NetApp SolidFire

    NetApp SolidFire is a business division of NetApp Inc. that specializes in all-flash storage systems.


  • hybrid hard disk drive (HDD)

    A hybrid hard disk drive is an electromechanical spinning hard disk that contains some amount of NAND Flash memory.