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Storage classes in C++

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Storage class is used to define the lifetime and visibility of a variable and/or function within a C++ program.These specifiers precede the type that they modify.
Lifetime refers to the period during which the variable remains active and visibility refers to the module of a program in which the variable is accessible.

The following storage classes can be used in a C++ program:

  • Automatic
  • External
  • Static
  • Register
  • Mutable



1. Automatic Storage Class:

  • Automatic storage class assigns a variable to its default storage type.
  • auto keyword is used to declare automatic variables.
  • However,if a variable is declared without any keyword inside a function,it is automatic by default.
  • This variable is visible only within the function.
  • It is declared and its lifetime is same as the lifetime of the function as well.
  • Once the execution of function is finished,the variable is destroyed.


datatype var1[= value];
auto datatype var1[= value];


auto int x;
float y =5.67; // both these have the same storage classes

2. External Storage Class:

  • External storage class assigns variable a reference to global variable declared outside the given programme.
  • extern keyword is used to declare external variables.
  • They are visible throughout the programe and its lifetime is same as the lifetime of the programe where it is declared.
  • This is visible to all the functions present in the programe.


extern datatype var1;

Example1:C++ program to create and use external storage.

First File : main.cpp

#include <iostream>
int count ;
extern void write_extern();
main() {
   count = 5;

Second File support.cpp

#include <iostream>

extern int count;

void write_extern(void) {
   std::cout << "Count is " << count << std::endl;

3. Static Storage Class:

  • Static storage class ensures a variable has the visibility mode of a local variable but lifetime of an external variable.
  • static keyword is used.
  • It can be used only within the function where it is declared but destroys only after the program execution has finished.
  • Therefore, making local variables static allows them to maintain their values between function calls.
  • When a function is called, the variable defined as static inside the function retains its previous value and operates on it.


static datatype var1[= value];


static int x = 35;
static float addition;

4. Register Storage Class:

  • The register storage class is used to define local variables that should be stored in a register instead of RAM.
  • It has its visibility and lifetime same as automatic variable.
  • register keyword is used.
  • The purpose of creating register varaiable is to increase access speed and make program run faster.
  • If there is no space in the register, these variables are stored in main memory and act similar to variables of automatic storage class.
  • The register should only be used for variables that require quick access such as counters.


register datatype var1[= value];


register char z;
register int rollno;

5. Mutable Storage Class:

  • The In C++, a class object can be kept constant using keyword const. This doesn't allow the data members of the class object to be modified during program execution.
  • mutable specifier applies only to class objects.
  • mutable keyword is used.
  • It allows a member of an object to override const member function.
  • That is, a mutable member can be modified by a const member function.


mutable datatype var1;


mutable char a;


The storage class is used to specify control of two different properties:

scope of variables
storage lifetime of variables
The storage class is used to specify control of two different properties: storage lifetime and scope(visibility) of variables.
Storage classes in C++
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