How to Optimizing Application Performance In-Memory Cache in ASP.NET Core?

In the continuously changing world of software development, performance optimization is an essential component that should not be disregarded. As applications get more complicated and data-intensive, developers are continuously looking for effective ways to improve their apps’ speed. One such technique is to utilize the capabilities of in-memory caching.

In this essay, we will look at.NET Core, a popular framework known for its efficiency and versatility. We’ll look specifically at how to use In-Memory Cache in.NET Core, a powerful technology that can greatly improve the performance of your applications.

In-memory caching stores data in the system’s main memory, which eliminates the need for time-consuming database operations. By storing frequently used data in a cache, we can ensure that our program operates smoothly and efficiently, giving a consistent user experience.

Whether you’re a seasoned.NET developer or just getting started, this article will provide you a thorough overview of in-memory caching in.NET Core and how to use it to improve application performance. So, let us get started!

.NET Core provides the IMemoryCache interface, which represents a cache stored in the web server’s memory. It’s a component of Microsoft.Extensions.The Caching.Memory namespace. Here’s what it does and the advantages of using it.

What In-Memory Cache Do?

IMemoryCache allows you to store data in the memory of your application. This data could be anything that’s expensive or time-consuming to generate or fetch, such as data from a database query, complex calculations, or API responses. The stored data can be retrieved using a unique key.

Benefits of Using IMemoryCache

  1. Performance Improvement: Fetching data from memory is significantly faster than fetching it from a database or an external API. By storing frequently accessed data in memory, you can reduce the load on your database or external services and speed up your application.
  2. Scalability: By reducing the dependency on external resources, you make your application more scalable. It can handle more users without slowing down or needing more database connections.
  3. Flexibility: IMemoryCache provides a lot of flexibility. You can specify options for each cache entry, such as absolute or sliding expiration times. This allows you to control how long the data stays in the cache based on your application’s needs.
  4. Efficiency: It allows efficient use of system resources by holding onto expensive-to-create items while they are still being used and discarding them if they’re not needed.

Now let’s see how to implement In-Memory caching with a practical example in .NET Core:

1. Install Required NuGet Packages

You need to install the necessary NuGet packages for your project.  You can install it using the following command in the Package Manager Console:

2. Initialize Memory Cache

You need to initialize the memory cache in your application. This can be done in the Startup.cs file of your API. In the ConfigureServices method, add the following line:

3. Create ContainerConfiguration Class

In our demo application, we have a create static class named ContainerConfiguration. This class is responsible for setting up the services that our application will use.

In the Configure() method, we first create a new ServiceCollection. This is a collection of service descriptors, which we can use to specify the services our application requires.

Next, we call services.AddMemoryCache(). This is an extension method provided by .NET Core that adds services required for in-memory caching to our ServiceCollection.

After setting up in-memory caching, we add our own service to the collection. We do this by calling services.AddScoped<IInMemoryCacheService, InMemoryCacheService>(). This tells .NET Core that whenever an IInMemoryCacheService is requested, it should provide an instance of InMemoryCacheService. The AddScoped method means that a new instance  InMemoryCacheService will be created once per request.

Finally, we call services.BuildServiceProvider(). This method builds  ServiceCollection into an IServiceProvider that we can use to retrieve the services our application needs.

4. Create Cache Service Class

We have a service class named InMemoryCacheService that implements the IInMemoryCacheService interface. This class is a crucial part of our application as it provides methods to interact with the in-memory cache.

The InMemoryCacheService class has a private field _memoryCache of type IMemoryCache, which represents the in-memory cache of our application. This field is initialized in the constructor of the class.

The class provides several methods to interact with the cache:

  • Get<T>(string key): This method retrieves an item from the cache using a key.
  • AddOrUpdate<T>(string key, T value, TimeSpan expirationTime): This method adds a new item to the cache or updates an existing item. The item will be removed from the cache after the specified expirationTime.
  • AddOrUpdate<T>(string key, T value): This method adds a new item to the cache or updates an existing item. The item will not be removed from the cache unless explicitly deleted.
  • Delete(string key): This method removes an item from the cache using a key.
  • IsExists<T>(string key): This method checks if an item exists in the cache using a key.

5. Use service and Perform Cache Operation

We will use the above service and perform different cache operations in our application.

As a result, we will get below output in the application.

Disadvantages of In-Memory Cache in ASP.NET Core

While In-Memory Cache in ASP.NET Core provides significant performance benefits, it’s important to be aware of its potential disadvantages:

  1. Resource Consumption: If configured incorrectly, in-memory caching can consume a significant amount of your server’s resources1.
  2. Cost: With the scaling of the application and longer caching periods, maintaining the server can prove to be costly1.
  3. Cloud Deployment: If deployed in the cloud, maintaining consistent caches can be difficult1.
  4. No Persistence or Backup: In-memory caching does not persist or backup the cached data, as it is stored in the volatile memory of an application. It can be lost or cleared when the application restarts, shuts down, or crashes2.
  5. Scalability: While in-memory caches are fast, they can be difficult to scale. Because the data is stored in memory, you’re limited by the amount of memory available on your machine3.
  6. Complexity: Implementing caching can add complexity to your application. You need to manage when and how data is added to the cache, how long it stays in the cache, and when it is removed3.

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