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The IDA Pro Book, 2nd Edition by Chris Eagle

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Debug vs. Release Binaries

Microsoft’s Visual Studio projects are usually capable of building either debug or release versions of program binaries. One way to note the differences is to compare the build options specified for the debug version of a project to the build options specified for the release version. Simple differences include the fact that release versions are generally optimized,[146] while debug versions are not, and debug versions are linked with additional symbol information and debugging versions of the runtime library, while release versions are not. The addition of debugging-related symbols allows debuggers to map assembly language statements back to their source code counterparts and to determine the names of local variables. ...

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