difference between Mutex and Lock/Monitor

Lock and Monitor helps to apply thread lock for request emerging from within the process, if you want to apply thread lock for request coming from outside process we need to use Mutex.

Locking

Exclusive locking is used to ensure that only one thread can enter particular sections of code at a time. The two main exclusive locking constructs are lock and Mutex. Of the two, the lock construct is faster and more convenient.Mutex, though, has a niche in that its lock can span applications in different processes on the computer.

Let’s start with the following class:

class ThreadUnsafe
{
  static int _val1 = 1, _val2 = 1;

  static void Go()
  {
    if (_val2 != 0) Console.WriteLine (_val1 / _val2);
    _val2 = 0;
  }
}

This class is not thread-safe: if Go was called by two threads simultaneously, it would be possible to get a division-by-zero error, because _val2 could be set to zero in one thread right as the other thread was in between executing the if statement and Console.WriteLine.

Here’s how lock can fix the problem:

class ThreadSafe
{
  static readonly object _locker = new object();
  static int _val1, _val2;

  static void Go()
  {
    lock (_locker)
    {
      if (_val2 != 0) Console.WriteLine (_val1 / _val2);
      _val2 = 0;
    }
  }
}

Only one thread can lock the synchronizing object (in this case, _locker) at a time, and any contending threads areblocked until the lock is released. If more than one thread contends the lock, they are queued on a “ready queue” and granted the lock on a first-come, first-served basis (a caveat is that nuances in the behavior of Windows and the CLR mean that the fairness of the queue can sometimes be violated). Exclusive locks are sometimes said to enforceserialized access to whatever’s protected by the lock, because one thread’s access cannot overlap with that of another. In this case, we’re protecting the logic inside the Go method, as well as the fields _val1 and _val2.

Monitor.Enter and Monitor.Exit

C#’s lock statement is in fact a syntactic shortcut for a call to the methods Monitor.Enter and Monitor.Exit, with atry/finally block. Here’s (a simplified version of) what’s actually happening within the Go method of the preceding example:

Monitor.Enter (_locker);
try
{
  if (_val2 != 0) Console.WriteLine (_val1 / _val2);
  _val2 = 0;
}
finally { Monitor.Exit (_locker); }

Calling Monitor.Exit without first calling Monitor.Enter on the same object throws an exception.

Mutex

Mutex is like a C# lock, but it can work across multiple processes. In other words, Mutex can be computer-wideas well as application-wide.

Acquiring and releasing an uncontended Mutex takes a few microseconds — about 50 times slower than a lock.

With a Mutex class, you call the WaitOne method to lock and ReleaseMutex to unlock. Closing or disposing aMutex automatically releases it. Just as with the lock statement, a Mutex can be released only from the same thread that obtained it.

A common use for a cross-process Mutex is to ensure that only one instance of a program can run at a time. Here’s how it’s done:

class OneAtATimePlease
{
  static void Main()
  {
    // Naming a Mutex makes it available computer-wide. Use a name that's
    // unique to your company and application (e.g., include your URL).

    using (var mutex = new Mutex (false, "oreilly.com OneAtATimeDemo"))
    {
      // Wait a few seconds if contended, in case another instance
      // of the program is still in the process of shutting down.

      if (!mutex.WaitOne (TimeSpan.FromSeconds (3), false))
      {
        Console.WriteLine ("Another app instance is running. Bye!");
        return;
      }
      RunProgram();
    }
  }

  static void RunProgram()
  {
    Console.WriteLine ("Running. Press Enter to exit");
    Console.ReadLine();
  }
}
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