Sometimes in C++ it can be an advantage for making a class non-copyable for
various reasons. This can be accomplished by inheriting a class from the boost
libraries. Which is called boost::noncopyable. This will force the classes copy
constructors to be private.

class MyClass : private boost::noncopyable
                MyClass() { }

By doing this. It will prevent the following from being able to compile because a copy is passed to the function. A reference should be passed instead. This will also prevent operations such as "a = b".

void func(MyClass a)


int main(int argc, char **argv)
        MyClass a, b;


        return 0;

Some advantages of using this include.

  • boost::noncopyable prevents the classes methods from accidentally using the private copy constructor
  • It is more explicit and descriptive in the intent. Using private copy functions is an idiom that takes longer to spot than non-copyable.
  • It is less code / less typing / less clutter / less room for error (the easiest would be accidentally providing an implementation).
  • You don't have to write your own private copy constructor.
  • Attempting to copy will catch issues sooner. eg at compile time.

One disadvantage is that there is a small overheat of the class inheritance.

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Last Modified: 18 February 2017

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