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Posted 19 Feb 2012

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Creating and Using Mutex Objects

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19 Feb 2012CPOL1 min read
This article shows the use of mutex's with explanations (Copied from MSDN - may prove convenient for some)
I know, it's already there in MSDN, but it's hard to find. So I am pasting it here to refer to some of my colleagues for better understanding of mutex

Using Mutex Objects
You can use a mutex object to protect a shared resource from simultaneous access by multiple threads or processes. Each thread must wait for ownership of the mutex before it can execute the code that accesses the shared resource. For example, if several threads share access to a database, the threads can use a mutex object to permit only one thread at a time to write to the database.

In the following example, a process uses the CreateMutex function to create a mutex object.

HANDLE hMutex; 

// Create a mutex with no initial owner.

hMutex = CreateMutex( 
    NULL,                       // default security attributes
    FALSE,                      // initially not owned
    NULL);                      // unnamed mutex

if (hMutex == NULL) 
    printf("CreateMutex error: %d\n", GetLastError());

When a thread of this process writes to the database, as in the next example, it first requests ownership of the mutex. If it gets ownership, the thread writes to the database and then releases its ownership.

The example uses structured exception-handling syntax to ensure that the thread properly releases the mutex object. The __finally block of code is executed no matter how the __try block terminates (unless the __try block includes a call to the TerminateThread function). This prevents the mutex object from being abandoned inadvertently.

BOOL FunctionToWriteToDatabase(HANDLE hMutex) 
    DWORD dwWaitResult; 

    // Request ownership of mutex.
    dwWaitResult = WaitForSingleObject( 
        hMutex,   // handle to mutex
        5000L);   // five-second time-out interval
    switch (dwWaitResult) 
        // The thread got mutex ownership.
        case WAIT_OBJECT_0: 
            __try { 
                // Write to the database.

            __finally { 
                // Release ownership of the mutex object.
                if (! ReleaseMutex(hMutex)) 
                    // Deal with error.


        // Cannot get mutex ownership due to time-out.
        case WAIT_TIMEOUT: 
            return FALSE; 

        // Got ownership of the abandoned mutex object.
        case WAIT_ABANDONED: 
            return FALSE; 

    return TRUE; 


This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)

Written By
Technical Lead Kotha Technologies
Bangladesh Bangladesh
If you are not in - you are out !
- Chapter 1

Comments and Discussions

Questiongood Pin
BillW3325-Jun-12 4:36
professionalBillW3325-Jun-12 4:36 
QuestionNice example Pin
JackDingler14-Mar-12 4:59
JackDingler14-Mar-12 4:59 

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