Singleton HTTP Client

Even though the class HttpClient implements IDisposable it is supposed to be used as a singleton as stated in the API reference:

HttpClient is intended to be instantiated once and re-used throughout the life of an application. Instantiating an HttpClient class for every request will exhaust the number of sockets available under heavy loads. This will result in SocketException errors.

The accepted best practice is to have one HttpClient per HTTP endpoint you’re interacting with. This will not only yield better performance it also allows to encapsulate endpoint specific logic (such as setting headers).

Now the question is: how do you configure your IoC container to resolve the expected HttpClient instance? This used to require a cumbersome registration but .NET Core 2.1 will ship with the HttpClientFactory making our life much easier.


Steve Gordon has an excellent post explaining what is HttpClientFactory and how it works.

HttpClientFactory aims to provide the following improvements:

  • Alleviate sockets exhaustion by reusing connection when possible
  • Alleviate stale DNS records (by default HttpClient caches DNS records for its lifetime)
  • Easily resolve an HttpClient instance linked to a specific HTTP endpoint

What if you can’t use .NET Core or can’t update? Fear not, we can achieve tomorrow’s dream with today’s tools (most of it anyway).

Associate an HttpClient instance with the service using it

HttpClient instances communicating with a specific HTTP endpoint tend to have dedicated settings such as an Authorization header, default request headers (Accept for example), maybe a HMAC… I tend to encapsulate those settings in a class to decouple the settings’s source from the consummer.

Let’s imagine that we’re integrating with a fictitious company called Contoso. The integration takes place via an HTTP API and our contact at Contoso gave us a bearer token that needs to be set on the Authorization header.

The first step is to create a POCO modelizing the settings:

public class ContosoSettings
    public Uri BaseAddress { get; set; }
    public string BearerToken { get; set; }

HttpClient makes writing tests harder. Developers tend to derive from HttpMessageHandler and provide an implementation allowing them to assert the requests issued by the HttpClient. I prefer to introduce an interface called IHttpClient exposing a single method to handle HTTP traffic:

public interface IHttpClient
    Task<HttpResponseMessage> SendAsync(HttpRequestMessage request);

We then implement the ContosoHttpClient that will be dedicated to communicating with the Contoso API:

public class ContosoHttpClient : HttpClient, IHttpClient
    public ContosoHttpClient(ContosoSettings settings)
        BaseAddress = settings.BaseAddress;
        DefaultRequestHeaders.Authorization = new AuthenticationHeaderValue("Bearer", settings.BearerToken);

And finally we registers the Types in the IoC container:

const string contosoHttpClientAutofacKeyName = "ContosoHttpClient";

    .Named(contosoHttpClientAutofacKeyName, typeof(IHttpClient))

    .WithParameter(new ResolvedParameter(
        (pi, ctx) => pi.ParameterType == typeof(IHttpClient),
        (pi, ctx) => ctx.ResolveNamed<IHttpClient>(ContosoHttpClientAutofacKeyName)))

// Abbreviated: resolve and register ContosoSettings (from Web.config, appsettings.json, CSV, volumen...)

This snippet is using Autofac named service. Using a named service this way has several benefits:

  • If someone registered another IHttpClient that is supposed to be used everywhere else we will not override the registration for all the other services while still retrieving an instance of ContosoHttpClient when resolving IContosoClient.
  • The named service is an implementation details that only the IoC container knows about.

Solve stale DNS records

Let’s say you’re interacting with an API hosted at, HttpClient will first have to resolve the domain name to an IP thanks to a DNS server. But what happens if the DNS record is updated and the domain name now resolves to another IP? If you are using a transient HttpClient you’ll be fine but if you’re using a singleton instance (as you should) Exceptions will start to shoot up in your monitoring system. Should we stop calling APIs, or maybe rewrite everything in Go?

The ConnectionLeaseTimeout property can solve this situation nicely for us:

A Int32 that specifies the number of milliseconds that an active ServicePoint connection remains open. The default is -1, which allows an active ServicePoint connection to stay connected indefinitely. Set this property to 0 to force ServicePoint connections to close after servicing a request.

This is how you set it:

var apiUri = new Uri("");
var sp = ServicePointManager.FindServicePoint(apiUri);
sp.ConnectionLeaseTimeout = 60*1000;

In the previous snippet I’m keeping the connection opened for a minute which seems like a good trade-off.


I haven’t looked at the implementation of HttpClientFactory yet but I suspect the end result will be fairly similar to what I demonstrated above. If you still have doubts about using a singleton HttpClient I recommend you to perf test it. At a previous customer I developped an API that was calling other HTTP endpoints, I increased the throughput by a factor of 10 by changing a single thing: I made the HttpClient a singleton rather than a per-request scope.