The Singleton Design Pattern

Design Patterns
Apr 15th - 2024

Purpose of the Singleton Pattern

The Singleton pattern is a creational design pattern that ensures a class has only one instance across an application, with a global point of access to that instance. It’s particularly useful when you need to control access to shared resources or maintain a single point of control, such as in logging systems, database connections, caches, and thread pools.

Singleton Design Pattern Mechanics

A Singleton class is typically defined with a private constructor to prevent external instantiation and a private static variable to hold its single instance, often initialized as null. Access to this instance is provided through a public static method, commonly named GetInstance or Instance. This method checks if the instance exists; if not, it creates one. All subsequent calls to this method return the existing instance.

For instance, a Load Balancer in a web farm scenario must be a Singleton to ensure all requests pass through a single point that manages server availability.

In the class diagram, the main program acts as the Client, utilizing the LoadBalancer Singleton to simulate specific functionality. The C# 11 sample code for this pattern, which employs thread-safe Lazy initialization, is available on GitHub.

Advantages of the Singleton Pattern

  • Single Instance: Guarantees only one instance of a class is created, avoiding conflicts in shared resource management.
  • Global Access: The Singleton instance can be accessed globally, simplifying interactions with shared methods and properties.
  • Lazy Initialization: The pattern supports creating the instance only when needed, potentially enhancing performance.
  • Thread Safety: A thread-safe Singleton allows safe access in multi-threaded environments.

Disadvantages of the Singleton Pattern

Despite its benefits, the Singleton pattern has drawbacks:

  • Global State: Introduces a global state, complicating system behavior tracking and potentially leading to bugs.
  • Tight Coupling: Direct access to the Singleton can result in tight coupling, making future changes or replacements difficult.
  • Testing Challenges: Global access complicates unit testing, as isolating components for testing may require extra work.
  • Lifecycle Management: Managing the Singleton’s lifecycle, especially for re-initialization, can be complex.
  • Limited Extensibility: Extending or modifying Singleton classes can be challenging due to their restricted instantiation.
  • Single Responsibility Principle Violation: The Singleton class has dual responsibilities: instance creation and task execution.
  • Open Closed Principle Violation: The Singleton is not open for extension as it always returns its own instance.

These considerations should be weighed carefully before implementing the Singleton pattern.

Appropriate Use Cases for the Singleton Pattern

The Singleton pattern is suitable when:

  • Single Instance Requirement: A single class instance is necessary throughout the application.
  • Global Access: Easy access to the instance is needed for application-wide interactions.
  • Resource Management: Efficient sharing of a limited resource is required.
  • Centralized Control: A central point of coordination or control is beneficial.

Real-World Singleton Examples

  • Logger: Manages logging operations across a system.
  • Database Connection: Provides a shared connection for database interactions.
  • Configuration Manager: Centralizes application settings and properties.
  • Cache Manager: Handles caching operations to improve performance.
  • Thread Pool: Manages thread creation and execution in concurrent programming.

While the Singleton can be advantageous, it should be used with caution, considering the design implications and specific needs of the application.


The Singleton pattern can be adapted with various initialization and thread safety strategies, but the core principle of a single, globally accessible instance remains constant. Due to its potential drawbacks and violations of SOLID principles, the Singleton is sometimes regarded as an Anti-Pattern.

Design Patterns
Apr 15th - 2024