A Definitive Guide to Singletons in C#

In C#, a singleton is a design pattern that restricts the instantiation of a class to a single object. It ensures that only one instance of the class exists throughout the application and provides global access to that instance.

Singletons and Usage Precaution

Singletons are useful for several reasons:

  • Global access: Singletons provide a way to have a single globally accessible instance of a class. This can be advantageous when there's a need to share data or functionality across different parts of the application without passing references to objects explicitly.
  • Resource sharing: Singletons can be used to manage resources that should be shared across multiple objects or components, such as database connections, thread pools, or caching mechanisms. By encapsulating the resource management within a singleton, one can ensure that all access to the shared resource goes through a centralized point, allowing for efficient coordination and avoiding resource conflicts.
  • Controlled object creation: Singletons allow to control the instantiation of a class and ensure that only one instance is created. This can be important to limit the number of objects created due to resource constraints or to enforce a specific behavior associated with the class.
  • On-demand initialization: Singletons can be initialized on demand, meaning that the instance is created only when it is first accessed. This can be beneficial for performance if creating the object is expensive or to delay the creation until it is actually needed.
  • Synchronization and thread safety: Singleton implementations can incorporate synchronization mechanisms, such as locks or double-checked locking, to ensure thread safety in multi-threaded environments. This helps avoid race conditions or inconsistent states when multiple threads are concurrently accessing the singleton instance.

It's worth noting that singletons, like any design pattern, should be used judiciously. While they can provide benefits, they also introduce a global state and tight coupling, which can make testing and maintenance more challenging. It's important to consider the specific use case and evaluate whether a singleton is the most appropriate solution.

Setting Up Singleton

Here's an example of implementing a singleton in C#:

public sealed class Singleton
    private static Singleton instance;
    private static readonly object lockObject = new object();

    private Singleton() { } // Private constructor to prevent instantiation from outside

    public static Singleton Instance
            if (instance == null) // Check if the instance is null
                lock (lockObject) // Use lock to ensure thread safety
                    if (instance == null) // Double-check locking to avoid race conditions
                        instance = new Singleton();
            return instance;

    // Other methods and properties

In this example, the class 'Singleton' has a private constructor, preventing other classes from creating new instances of it. The class exposes a public static property called 'Instance', which is responsible for creating and returning the single instance of the class. The first time 'Instance' is accessed, it checks if the variable 'instance' is null, and if so, it uses a lock to ensure thread safety while creating a new instance.

Subsequent calls to the 'Instance' will return the existing instance without creating a new one. This approach guarantees that only one instance of 'Singleton' exists throughout the application.

In this case, the 'Singleton' is a sealed class (note the keyword 'sealed' before the class declaration) which is a class that cannot be inherited or used as a base class for other classes. Once a class is marked as sealed, it prevents other classes from deriving from it.

The singleton instance can be accessed as follows:

Singleton singleton = Singleton.Instance;

This code will give the reference to the single instance of the class 'Singleton', regardless of where it is called in the application.


Singletons in C# are a design pattern that allows for the creation of a single instance of a class throughout the application, providing global access to that instance. They are useful for scenarios where it's needed to share the data or functionality across different parts of the application, manage shared resources efficiently, control object creation, and ensure thread safety. Singletons can also incorporate on-demand initialization, where the instance is created only when it is first accessed, offering performance benefits by deferring the creation until it is actually needed. However, it's important to use singletons judiciously, considering the trade-offs and potential drawbacks associated with global state and tight coupling. Careful consideration should be given to the specific use case to determine if a singleton is the most appropriate solution.

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