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Multithreading is similar to multitasking, but enables the processing of multiple threads at one time, rather than multiple processes. Since threads are smaller, more basic instructions than processes, multithreading may occur within processes.

By incorporating multithreading, programs can perform multiple operations at once. For example, a multithreaded operating system may run several background tasks, such as logging file changes, indexing data, and managing windows at the same time. Web browsers that support multithreading can have multiple windows open with JavaScript and Flash animations running simultaneously. If a program is fully multithreaded, the different processes should not affect each other at all, as long as the CPU has enough power to handle them.

Similar to multitasking, multithreading also improves the stability of programs. However, instead of keeping the computer from crashing, multithreading may prevent a program from crashing. Since each thread is handled separately, if one thread has an error, it should not affect the rest of the program. Therefore, multithreading can lead to fewer crashes, which is something we can all be thankful for.

Published: 2009

Definition from the PC Glossary