Dispose HttpClient or have a static instance?

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Recently, I came across this blog post from ASP.NET Monsters which talks about correct using HttpClient.

The post talks about issues of related to disposing HttpClient object for each request. As per the post calling HttpClient as below can lead to issues.

I have been using the HttpClient object like this for almost all of my projects. Hence, this post was an eye opener for me.

Also, as per the patterns and practices documentation:

In a web application this technique is not scalable. Each user request results in the creation of a new HttpClient object. Under a heavy load, the web server can exhaust the number of sockets available resulting in SocketException errors.

From above two articles I could conclude, below are the major issues with disposing the HttpClient object for each request:

  • The execution time of the HttpClient request is higher. This is obvious since we create and dispose the object every time for a new request.
  • Disposing HttpClient object every time could potentially lead to SocketException. This is because disposing the HttpClient object does not really close TCP connection. Quoting from the ASP.NET monster post:

..the application has exited and yet there are still a bunch of these connections open to the Azure machine which hosts the ASP.NET Monsters website. They are in the TIME_WAIT state which means that the connection has been closed on one side (ours) but we’re still waiting to see if any additional packets come in on it because they might have been delayed on the network somewhere

I wanted to test the performance improvements when we create a static instance of HttpClient. The aim of my test was ONLY to see the difference of execution time between the two approaches when we open multiple connections. To test this, I wrote following code:

For testing:

  • I ran the code with 10, 100, 1000 and 1000 connections.
  • Ran each test 3 times to find out the average
  • Executed ONLY one method at a time

My machine configuration was:

System Configuration

Below are the results from the Visual Studio Instrumentation Profiling:

Method No Of Connections Time in Seconds Difference in Seconds Performance Improvement in %
TestHttpClientWithUsing 10 2.6
TestHttpClientWithStaticInstance 1.8 1 44
TestHttpClientWithUsing 100 408
TestHttpClientWithStaticInstance 240 168 70
TestHttpClientWithUsing 1000 241
TestHttpClientWithStaticInstance 160 81 51
TestHttpClientWithUsing 10000 2456
TestHttpClientWithStaticInstance 1630 826 51

As you can see the time of execution for the static instance is far lesser than disposable object.

Does it means we should use static client object all the time? It depends.

One of the issues people have found with static HttpClient Instance is that it does not support DNS changes. Refer this article. For .NET application, there is a workaround available where you can you can set connnectonLeaseTimeOut by using ServicePoint object as mentioned in post.

However, for an ASP.NET Core, you may be out of luck as per this issue in GitHub as similar property does not seem to exist.

Hope this post help you take informed decision in your projects. Please share your thoughts in comments section.