C# – ConfigurationManager.AppSettings Performance Concerns


I plan to be storing all my config settings in my application's app.config section (using the ConfigurationManager.AppSettings class). As the user changes settings using the app's UI (clicking checkboxes, choosing radio buttons, etc.), I plan to be writing those changes out to the AppSettings. At the same time, while the program is running I plan to be accessing the AppSettings constantly from a process that will be constantly processing data. Changes to settings via the UI need to affect the data processing in real-time, which is why the process will be accessing the AppSettings constantly.

Is this a good idea with regard to performance? Using AppSettings is supposed to be "the right way" to store and access configuration settings when writing .Net apps, but I worry that this method wasn't intended for a constant load (at least in terms of settings being constantly read).

If anyone has experience with this, I would greatly appreciate the input.

Update: I should probably clarify a few points.

This is not a web application, so connecting a database to the application might be overkill simply for storing configuration settings. This is a Windows Forms application.

According to the MSDN documention, the ConfigurationManager is for storing not just application level settings, but user settings as well. (Especially important if, for instance, the application is installed as a partial-trust application.)

Update 2: I accepted lomaxx's answer because Properties does indeed look like a good solution, without having to add any additional layers to my application (such as a database). When using Properties, it already does all the caching that others suggested. This means any changes and subsequent reads are all done in memory, making it extremely fast. Properties only writes the changes to disk when you explicitly tell it to. This means I can make changes to the config settings on-the-fly at run time and then only do a final save out to disk when the program exits.

Just to verify it would actually be able to handle the load I need, I did some testing on my laptop and was able to do 750,000 reads and 7,500 writes per second using Properties. That is so far above and beyond what my application will ever even come close to needing that I feel quite safe in using Properties without impacting performance.

Best Solution

since you're using a winforms app, if it's in .net 2.0 there's actually a user settings system (called Properties) that is designed for this purpose. This article on MSDN has a pretty good introduction into this

If you're still worried about performance then take a look at SQL Compact Edition which is similar to SQLite but is the Microsoft offering which I've found plays very nicely with winforms and there's even the ability to make it work with Linq