Monday, February 27, 2012

Tips for ASP.NET Application Performance Enhancement

Hi All,

Though I have written about this some time back, Performance and Scalability stand next to Security in the case of Applications and is the most sought after topic wherever people raise queries.

I have compiled a set of Tips and Tricks to improve the performance of ASP.NET Applications in particular, where I have drilled down and explored a lot and have faced crunch situations from which I keep learning.

These tips can be followd during deploying ur app on the production server

A Foreword is that, these are general tips and are not exhaustive and its always better to share any new thoughts whenever we arrive at them, which will benefit the rest of the community.

Now, lets drill down into the Tips :)

In the Application Web.Config File

1. Set debug=false under compilation as follows:-

When you create the application, by default this attribute is set to "true" which is very useful while developing. However, when you are deploying your application, always set it to "false"

Setting it to "true" requires the pdb information to be inserted into the file and this results in a comparatively larger file and hence processing will be slow.

Therefore, always set debug="false" before deployment.

2. Turn off Tracing unless until required.

Tracing is one of the wonderful features which enable us to track the application's trace and the sequences. However, again it is useful only for developers and you can set this to "false" unless you require to monitor the trace logging. You can turn off tracing as follows:-

3. Turn off Session State, if not required.

ASP.NET Manages session state automatically. However, in case you dont require Sessions, disabling it will help in improving the performance.

You may not require seesion state when ur pages r static or whn u dont need to store infor captured in the page.

You can turn off session state as follows:-

While developing using Visual Studio.NET

1. Select the Release mode before making the final Build for your application. This option is available in the Top Frame just under the Window Menu option. By default, the Mode is Debug

There are several things happening when you Build/Re-Build applications in the Debug Mode. First of all, it creates an additional PDB File under your BIN directory. This holds all the Debug information.

Secondly, the Timeout is very high since you require higher time out frequency while debugging such that your process hangs on until you get to the exact break point where error is there.

So, selecting Release Mode will greatly improve the performance of the application when u deploy.

General Methods to improve the Performance

1. Disable ViewState as and when not required.
ViewState is a wonderful technique which preserves the state of your form and controls. However, its a overhead since all the information needs to be stored in the viewstate and particularly if you are building applications which target Dial Up Internet Connection Users, ViewState can make your application very slow. In case you dont require viewstate, disable it.

You can disable it at different levels ex., for Page, Control etc., by setting

2. Avoid Frequent round trips to the Database.
Calls made to Database can be quite expensive in terms of response time as well as resources and it can be avoided by using Batch Processing.

Make calls to Database as mininal as possible and make them last even lesser time. Use of DataAdapter wherever applicable is very useful since, it automatically opens and closes Connection whenever required and doesnt require user to explicitly open the connection.

A number of connections opened and not closed adequately can directly influence in performance slow down.

3. Avoid Throwing Exceptions.
Exceptions are a greate way to handle errors that occur in your application logic. However, throwing exceptions is a costly resource and must be avoided. Use specific exceptions and use as minimal as possible to avoid resource overhead.

For example, catching a SQLException is better when you expect only those kind of exceptions instead of a generic Exception.

4. Use Caching to improve the performance of your application.
OutputCaching enables your page to be cached for specific duration and can be made invalid based on various paramters that can be specified. The Cache exists for the duration you specify and until that time, the requests do not go to the server and are served from the Cache.

Do not assign cached items a short expiration. Items that expire quickly cause unnecessary turnover in the cache and frequently cause more work for cleanup code and the garbage collector.

In case you have static as well as dynamic sections of your page, try to use Partial Caching (Fragment Caching) by breaking up your page into user controls and specify Caching for only those Controls which are more-or-less static.

For more details regarding caching look into
ASP.NET Caching Features

5. Use appropriate Authentication Mechanism.
The Authentication Mechanism you choose determines the cost associated with it and hence select the appropriate mechanism. An informal but useful order is as follows:-

Authentication Modes

1. None
2. Windows
3. Forms
4. Passport

6. Validate all Input received from the Users.
User Input is Evil and it must be thoroughly validated before processing to avoid overhead and possible injections to your applications. Use Client Side Validations as much as possible. However, do a check at the Server side too to avoid the infamous Javascript disabled scenarios.

7. Use Finally Method to kill resources.
In your Try..Catch.. Block, always use the Finally method to close Open connections, Open DataReaders, Files and other resources such that they get executed independent of whether the code worked in Try or went to Catch.

The Finally method gets executed independent of the outcome of the Block.

8. The String and Stringbuilder Magic.
Perhaps the most ignored type in .NET is the stringbuilder. I am sure many of us are not even aware of Stringbuilder and its advantage over string (atleast I didnt know for 1 year :))

String is Evil when you want to append and concatenate text to your string. In other words, if you are initially creating a string say s = "Hello". Then you are appending to it as s = s + " World"; You are actually creating two instances of string in memory. Both the original as well as the new string will be stored in the memory. For that matter, all the activities you do to the string are stored in the memory as separate references and it must be avoided as much as possible.

Use StringBuilder which is very useful in these kind of scenarios. For the example above, using a StringBuilder as s.Append(" World"); which only stores the value in the original string and no additional reference is created.

9. Avoid Recursive Functions / Nested Loops
These are general things to adopt in any programming language, which consumes lot of memory. Always avoid Nested Loops, Recursive functions, to improve performance.

Having said that, proper functions and call backs do increase the performance instead of having a huge chunk of lines of code in single method.

The above are just pointers to improve the performance of your application and are just illustrative. There are many more ways in which you can improve the performance of your applications. I havent dealt with IIS and SQL Server side tips to improve performance which I would explain in my forthcoming articles.

The above are my view and a collective response from various resources and you are welcome to share your views / corrections if any.

Cheers and Happy Programming !!!

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