Tips on Finding Performance Issues in Your ASP.NET App – Part 2

Earlier I blogged about finding performance issues in an ASP.NET app “in the large” (see here). I’d like to reiterate that doing this for a web app is critical, because it not only shows you where the bottlenecks are, but also how these affect the entire application. I said I’d follow up on profiling, so here it is…

Once you know what the bottlenecks or “hot spots” are, you can dive into figuring out what the problem is with these pages. This is where profiling comes in. Profiling lets you know what is happening inside your code. It shows you how long a method call is taking and how often a call is made. Both of these are interesting, because performance bottlenecks can be caused by calls taking long, but also by too many calls to a method. Now, I won’t get into the details of how to profile with Visual Studio 2010 (you can read Beginners Guide to Performance Profiling for that), but when you use this tooling, you should focus on one page at a time. The profiler will throw a heap of information at you, so dealing with one page is hard enough. Once you have this information you have to determine what’s really going on. Is this somehting you can fix by changing a few lines of code, or is there a more structural problem you need to solve? Pages that under no load take 10 seconds or more likely have a structural problem, so you need to check if there is a lot of code being executed that is just waste. Also, be sure to focus on big fish first. You can worry about micro-optimizations (such as a different string compare mechanism) later. That said, you should try to make such optimizations part of your coding  guidelines, rather than looking at that afterwards. Micro-optimizations are only really interesting for very high performance apps. A 10th of a second loss here and there isn’t going to make a lot of difference apart from maybe needing to scale-out a little earlier.

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