C# – How to mock out the file system in C# for unit testing


Are there any libraries or methods to mock out the file system in C# to write unit tests? In my current case I have methods that check whether certain file exists and read the creation date. I may need more than that in future.

Best Solution

Edit: Install the NuGet package System.IO.Abstractions.

This package did not exist when this answer was originally accepted. The original answer is provided for historical context below:

You could do it by creating an interface:

interface IFileSystem {
    bool FileExists(string fileName);
    DateTime GetCreationDate(string fileName);

and creating a 'real' implementation which uses System.IO.File.Exists() etc. You can then mock this interface using a mocking framework; I recommend Moq.

Edit: somebody's done this and kindly posted it online here.

I've used this approach to mock out DateTime.UtcNow in an IClock interface (really really useful for our testing to be able to control the flow of time!), and more traditionally, an ISqlDataAccess interface.

Another approach might be to use TypeMock, this allows you to intercept calls to classes and stub them out. This does however cost money, and would need to be installed on your whole team's PCs and your build server in order to run, also, it apparently won't work for the System.IO.File, as it can't stub mscorlib.

You could also just accept that certain methods are not unit testable and test them in a separate slow-running integration/system tests suite.