A weak reference permits the garbage collector to collect the object while still allowing the application to access the object. A weak reference is valid only during the indeterminate amount of time until the object is collected when no strong references exist. When you use a weak reference, the application can still obtain a strong reference to the object, which prevents it from being collected. However, there is always the risk that the garbage collector will get to the object first before a strong reference is re-established.

You can create a short weak reference or a long weak reference:

  • Short: The target of a short weak reference becomes null when the object is reclaimed by garbage collection. The weak reference is itself a managed object, and is subject to garbage collection just like any other managed object. A short weak reference is the default constructor for WeakReference.
  • Long: A long weak reference is retained after the object’s Finalize method has been called. This allows the object to be recreated, but the state of the object remains unpredictable. To use a long reference, specify true in the WeakReference constructor.

Source: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms404247.aspx