C# – optimize updates to DataTable bound to DataGridView


I have a Form in my application that displays some data. When I first show the Form, I load some data into a DataTable then bind the DataTable to a DataGridView. I also start an asynchronous method that executes some slower database queries. When these slow queries complete, I need to update a few hundred rows in the DataTable, filling in values returned from the slower queries, like so:

foreach (DataRow row in data.Rows)
    SlowLoadingData slow_stuff = slow_query_results[(int)row["id"]];

    row[column_one] = slow_stuff.One;
    row[column_two] = slow_stuff.Two;
    row[column_three] = slow_stuff.Three;

This is extremely slow, hanging the UI thread for a minute or more, presumably because each row is triggering a redraw.

After some research, I found a way to make it fast. First, bind the DataGridView to a BindingSource that is bound to the DataTable, instead of directly to the DataTable. Then, do as follows when you make changes to the DataTable:

binding_source.RaiseListChangedEvents = false;
// foreach (DataRow in Data.Rows) ... code above
binding_source.RaiseListChangedEvents = true;

There is a problem, though, and it's a doozy: the code above prevents the DataGridView from detecting new rows added to the DataTable. Any new rows added to the table do not appear in the grid. The grid may also throw exceptions if you use the arrow keys to move the current cell selection off the bottom end of the grid, because the underlying data source has more rows but the grid has not created grid rows to display them.

So, two possible solutions that I can see:

  1. Is there a better way to suppress binding updates while making changes to the underlying DataTable?

  2. Is there an easy way to tell the DataGridView to gracefully refresh its grid row collection to match the number of underlying DataTable rows? (Note: I've tried calling BindingSource.ResetBindings, but it seems to trigger more exceptions if you have removed rows from the DataTable!)

Best Solution

You can try using the Merge method on the DataTable. I'll try to create a simple demo app and post it here, but the idea is simple. When you want to update the Grid, query the results into a new DataTable, and then merge the old table with the new table. As long as both tables have primary keys (you can create them them im memory if they don't come back from the DB) then it should track changes and update the DataGridView seamlessly. It also has the advantage of not losing the users place on the grid.

OK, here's a sample. I create a form with two buttons and one dataGridView. On button1 click, I populate the main table with some data, and bind the grid to it. Then, on second click, I create another table with the same schema. Add data to it (some that have the same primary key, and some that have new ones). Then, they merge them back to the original table. It updates the grid as expected.

    public partial class Form1 : Form
        private DataTable mainTable;
        public Form1()
            this.mainTable = this.CreateTestTable();

        private void button1_Click(object sender, EventArgs e)
            for (int i = 1; i <= 10; i++)
                this.mainTable.Rows.Add(String.Format("Person{0}", i), i * i);

            this.dataGridView1.DataSource = this.mainTable;

        private void button2_Click(object sender, EventArgs e)
            DataTable newTable = this.CreateTestTable();
            for (int i = 1; i <= 15; i++)
                newTable.Rows.Add(String.Format("Person{0}", i), i + i);

        private DataTable CreateTestTable()
            var result = new DataTable();
            result.Columns.Add("Age", typeof(int));
            result.PrimaryKey = new DataColumn[] { result.Columns["Name"] };

            return result;

Related Question