What happens if I don't cancel a Context?

I have the following code:

func Call(ctx context.Context, payload Payload) (Response, error) {
    req, err := http.NewRequest(...) // Some code that creates request from payload
    ctx, cancel = context.withTimeout(ctx, time.Duration(3) * time.Second)
    defer cancel()
    return http.DefaultClient.Do(req)

What would happen if I didn’t put defer cancel() in there? go vet warned this

the cancel function returned by context.WithTimeout should be called, not discarded, to avoid a context leak

How will the context be leaked and what impact will this have? Thanks

1 Like

If you fail to cancel the context, the goroutine that WithCancel or WithTimeout created will be retained in memory indefinitely (until the program shuts down), causing a memory leak. If you do this a lot, your memory will balloon significantly. It’s best practice to use a defer cancel() immediately after calling WithCancel() or WithTimeout()