How to prevent re-renders in React?

How to prevent re-renders in React?
November 06, 2023

As we dive into the world of React, performance optimization often comes to the forefront of our development efforts. One particular challenge that arises is managing the re-rendering behavior of components.

Unnecessary renders can significantly impact performance, especially in large, complex applications. In this article, we will discuss two powerful techniques to control this behavior and optimize our React components: shouldComponentUpdate() and React.memo().

Understanding Re-renders in React

React's re-rendering process is both a powerful feature and a potential pitfall. By default, a React component will re-render in response to state or props changes.

This behavior ensures that the UI is always up-to-date with the latest data. However, not all state or props changes require a UI update, and that's where optimization techniques come into play.

Using shouldComponentUpdate() for Class Components

The shouldComponentUpdate() lifecycle method is a gatekeeper for rendering in class components. It determines whether a component should update in response to changes in state or props. By default, it returns true, allowing every update to go through.

However, you can override this method to include a comparison between current and next state or props, and return false to prevent the component from re-rendering.


class MyComponent extends React.Component {
  shouldComponentUpdate(nextProps, nextState) {
    // Compare the current props with the next props
    return this.props.someValue !== nextProps.someValue;

  render() {
    // Component's render logic
    return <div>{this.props.someValue}</div>;

In the example above, MyComponent will only re-render if someValue prop has changed, thus preventing unnecessary renders when other props remain the same.

Embracing Functional Components with React.memo()

For functional components, React.memo() is a higher-order component that wraps around your functional component. It performs a shallow comparison of the current props and new props, and if there's no difference, React skips the re-render.


const MyMemoComponent = React.memo(function MyComponent(props) {
  // Functional component logic
  return <div>{props.someValue}</div>;

With MyMemoComponent, re-renders are avoided unless someValue changes, ensuring that performance remains optimal without unnecessary updates.

Best Practices for Preventing Unnecessary Re-renders

When applying shouldComponentUpdate() or React.memo(), consider the following best practices:

  • Shallow Compare Wisely: Both techniques use shallow comparison. This means that if you pass objects or arrays as props, you should ensure that their references change only when their content changes.
  • Pure Components: Aim to make your components as pure as possible—meaning the output depends solely on the props and state.
  • Benchmark Performance: Use tools like React Developer Tools to benchmark performance and identify components that benefit most from these optimization techniques.
  • Avoid Premature Optimization: Don’t optimize all components upfront. Focus on the ones that are frequently updated or have complex render methods.

By implementing shouldComponentUpdate() and React.memo(), you can fine-tune their components' rendering behavior, leading to faster, more efficient applications. Remember, optimization is about making strategic decisions based on your application's specific needs and behavior.

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