Cause of OutOfMemoryError in PermGen space in Tomcat:
PermGen Space of heap is used to store classes and Meta data about classes in Java. When a class is loaded by a classloader it got stored in PermGen space, it gets unloaded only when the classloader which loaded this class got garbage collected. If any object retains reference of classloader than its not garbage collected and Perm Gen Space is not freed up. This causes memory leak in PermGen Space and eventually cause java.lang.OutOfMemoryError: PermGen space. Another important point is that when you deploy your web application a new Clasloader gets created and it loads the classes used by web application. So if Classloader doesn't get garbage collected when your web application stops you will have memory leak in tomcat.
Solution of Tomcat: OutOfMemroyError:
1) Find the offending classes which are retaining reference of Classloader and preventing it from being garbage collected. Tomcat provides memory leak detection functionality after tomcat 6 onwards which can help you to find when particular library, framework or class is causing memory leak in tomcat. Here are some of the common causes of java.lang.OutOfMemoryError: PermGen space in tomcat server:
1) JDBC Drivers:
JDBC drivers are most common cause of java.lang.OutOfMemoryError: PermGen space in tomcat if web app doesn't unregister during stop. One hack to get around this problem is that JDBC driver to be loaded by common class loader than application classloader and you can do this by transferring driver's jar into tomcat lib instead of bundling it on web application's war file.
2) Logging framework:
Similarsolution can be applied to prevent logging libraries like Log4j causing java.lang.OutOfMemoryError: PermGen space in tomcat.
3) Application Threads which have not stopped.
Check your code carefully if you are leaving your thread unattended and running in while loop that can retain classloader's reference and cause java.lang.OutOfMemoryError: PermGen space in tomcat web server. Another common culprit is ThreadLocal, avoid using it until you need it absolutely, if do you make sure to set them null or free any object ThreadLocal variables are holding.
Another Simple Solution is to increase PermGen heap size in catalina.bat or catalina.sh of tomcat server; this can give you some breathing space but eventually this will also return in java.lang.OutOfMemoryError: PermGen space after some time.
Steps to increase PermGen Heap Space in Tomcat:
1) Go to Tomcat installation directory i.e C:\Program Files\Apache Software Foundation\Apache Tomcat 7.0.14\bin in Windows and something similar in linux.
2) Add JAVA_OPTS in your catalina.bat or Catalina.sh
set JAVA_OPTS="-Xms1024m -Xmx10246m -XX:NewSize=256m -XX:MaxNewSize=356m -XX:PermSize=256m -XX:MaxPermSize=356m"
You can change the actual heap size and PermGen Space as per your requirement.
3) Restart Tomcat.
As I said earlier increasing PermGen space can prevent java.lang.OutOfMemoryError: PermGen in tomcat only for some time and it will eventually occur based on how many times you redeploy your web application, its best to find the offending class which is causing memory leak in tomcat and fix it.