Quick Overview:
A brief on .NET caching strategies is provided, listing the in-memory, distributed, cache-aside pattern, and output caching. Undergoing each of them will help you choose the right technique for your application and upgrade performance, reduce latency, and enhance user experience.

Caching Strategies in .NET Applications

During .NET development, one of the prime focuses of professionals is to curate a high-performance application. Whenever there’s a need for faster execution, a caching mechanism is going to be implemented for sure.

However, the high caching speed is only guaranteed if the right caching strategy is utilized. Many don’t know about such techniques, which is why their software is lacking. But you don’t need to fret, as all the significant caching strategies for dotnet applications are mentioned here.

Let’s have a thorough look at them.

The Need to Focus on Caching During .NET Development

In dotnet software solutions, caching is an integral component because of the following reasons.

  • It helps improve app performance by reducing the need to communicate with data stores.
  • Caching reduces the load on an application by providing repeatedly requested data directly from its memory.
  • It supports saving money on expensive hardware and software resources used for performance optimization.
  • It reduces the latency rate of accessing lazy storage systems in real-time applications.

Top Caching Strategies for .NET Applications

The top four caching strategies are listed below, and they are being implemented in dotnet applications for faster response, higher performance, and easy scalability. So, let’s have a look at them individually.

In Memory Caching in .NET Applications

In memory caching is the most commonly implemented strategy for enhancing the performance of a .NET application. It’s used for software handling excessive workloads and high traffic throughout the day and needs to provide faster services to all end-users.

When in-memory caching is configured, it uses the memory allocated to the application for quick data retrieval. The main aim of utilizing this technique is to eliminate the constant communication between data stores and to reduce resource utilization. With the release of ASP.NET 6, the in-memory caching was integrated into the framework only.

You can utilize the “MemoryCache” class, a new-age implementation or version of the “IMemoryCache” interface in your .NET applications. For a better insight, refer to the following code.

using System.Runtime.Caching;

public class DataCache
{
    private readonly MemoryCache cache;

    public DataCache()
    {
        cache = new MemoryCache("DataCache");
    }

    public T GetOrCreate<T>(string key, Func<T> createItem, DateTimeOffset absoluteExpiration)
    {
        if (!cache.Contains(key))
        {
            var item = createItem();
            cache.Add(key, item, absoluteExpiration);
        }

        return (T)cache[key];
    }

    public void Remove(string key)
    {
        cache.Remove(key);
    }
}

The above code can be directly implemented and also modified to refresh cache memory at a scheduled interval and update newer information for real-time applications. Thus, you can use in-memory caching per your requirements.

Distributed Caching with Redis in .NET Applications

A distributed caching mechanism is used to handle data available across multiple services, such as in a microservices architecture. In .NET development, professionals consider using Redis distributed cache for enterprise software solutions. The main aim of using Redis is its open-source nature and ability to span over on-premises, cloud, and hybrid infrastructure.

For dotnet applications, there are two main configurations for Redis, and for both, Azure Cache for Redis is utilized. The primary Configuration is for the ASP.NET Core app hosted on the Azure platform, and the other is for local development purposes.

To implement distributed caching with Redis, you need to call “AddStackExchangeRedisCache” and the associated instance “RedisCache.”  Further, to make the output available, “AddStackExchangeRedisOutputCache” will be used. Also, the process to do so is quite streamlined, consisting of only two steps as below.

Step 1: Generate an Azure Cache for Redis.

Step 2: Now, copy the main connection string, which is “StackExchange.Redis”. Further, paste the connection string to Configuration.

For local development, use the secret manager to save the string, and for Azure-hosted software, utilize the app service configuration.

builder.Services.AddStackExchangeRedisCache(options =>
 {
     options.Configuration = builder.Configuration.GetConnectionString("MyRedisConStr");
     options.InstanceName = "SampleInstance";
 });

Cache-Aside Pattern in .NET Development

The cache-aside pattern has different names, such as lazy loading and on-demand caching, due to its functionality. It loads the data into the cache when the end-user requires or requests it.

For instance, suppose a user has requested some data, and the application is implemented with the cache-aside pattern. So, firstly, the app will check the cache memory to validate whether the data is present there. If the information is available, it’ll be processed further directly from cache memory. Otherwise, the defined data sources will be checked, and the required data will get loaded to the cache and then provided to the user.

To implement the cache aside-pattern in your dotnet application, you can refer to the below code.

public async Task<Product> GetProductAsync(int id)
{
    string key = $"Product_{id}";
    var product = cache.Get<Product>(key);

    if (product == null)
    {
        product = await productRepository.GetProductAsync(id);

        if (product != null)
        {
            var options = new DistributedCacheEntryOptions
            {
                AbsoluteExpirationRelativeToNow = TimeSpan.FromMinutes(60)
            };
            await cache.SetAsync(key, product, options);
        }
    }

    return product;
}

Output Caching in .NET Applications

The output caching technique is used to improve the user-request execution performance. Under this mechanism, the server output is stored in cache memory and reused for subsequent requests. However, a certain criterion has to be defined according to project requirements for using cache data.

Primarily, three main tasks are streamlined with output caching, namely view rendering, code execution, and database querying. Also, resource utilization is reduced, and the server becomes capable of handling more requests within minimal time and other technical constraints.

Furthermore, HTTP headers control the output caching, defining the duration, conditions, and validation for it. For your ASP.NET Core applications, the same headers are used with an attribute known as “ResponseCache.” To implement it, refer to the following code.

using Microsoft.AspNetCore.Mvc;

public class HomeController : Controller
{
    [HttpGet]
    [ResponseCache(Duration = 60, Location = ResponseCacheLocation.Any, NoStore = false)]
    public IActionResult Index()
    {
        return View();
    }
}

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The Cache Considerations for .NET Development

When you develop a .NET application, always consider the following points to determine the need for a cache and the right strategy.

  • Analyze the use case of your application and then select the caching strategy. You can consult with a dotnet development company for it.
  • Implement caching memory according to the current user base and expected growth.
  • Discover your data access patterns, such as repeated reads, total data retrieved in a day, latency, and reads-to-write ratio for better strategy selection.
  • Always ensure that cached data is stored and transmitted securely to maintain integrity and confidentiality.

All these considerations will help you choose the right caching strategy for your .NET applications according to their use case, complexity, and size.

Concluding Up

Caching is an essential mechanism that helps upgrade the performance of dotnet software. There are multiple caching strategies that you must know about, including in memory, distributed with Redis, output, and cache-aside patterns. It will help you choose the most appropriate technique for your business application and enhance your digital experience.

Parag Mehta

Verified Expert in Software & Web App Engineering

Parag Mehta, the CEO and Founder of Positiwise Software Pvt Ltd has extensive knowledge of the development niche. He is implementing custom strategies to craft highly-appealing and robust applications for its clients and supporting employees to grow and ace the tasks. He is a consistent learner and always provides the best-in-quality solutions, accelerating productivity.

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