Difference between StringBuilder and StringBuffer

2008-12-10 java stringbuilder stringbuffer

What is the main difference between StringBuffer and StringBuilder? Is there any performance issues when deciding on any one of these?

Answers

StringBuffer is synchronized, StringBuilder is not.

Basically, StringBuffer methods are synchronized while StringBuilder are not.

The operations are "almost" the same, but using synchronized methods in a single thread is overkill.

That's pretty much about it.

Quote from StringBuilder API:

This class [StringBuilder] provides an API compatible with StringBuffer, but with no guarantee of synchronization. This class is designed for use as a drop-in replacement for StringBuffer in places where the string buffer was being used by a single thread (as is generally the case). Where possible, it is recommended that this class be used in preference to StringBuffer as it will be faster under most implementations.

So it was made to substitute it.

The same happened with Vector and ArrayList.

StringBuilder was introduced in Java 1.5 so it won't work with earlier JVMs.

From the Javadocs:

StringBuilder class provides an API compatible with StringBuffer, but with no guarantee of synchronization. This class is designed for use as a drop-in replacement for StringBuffer in places where the string buffer was being used by a single thread (as is generally the case). Where possible, it is recommended that this class be used in preference to StringBuffer as it will be faster under most implementations.

StringBuilder is not thread safe. String Buffer is. More info here.

EDIT: As for performance , after hotspot kicks in , StringBuilder is the winner. However , for small iterations , the performance difference is negligible.

StringBuffer

  • Synchronized hence threadsafe
  • Thread safe hence slow

StringBuilder

  • Introduced in Java 5.0
  • Asynchronous hence fast & efficient
  • User explicitly needs to synchronize it, if he wants
  • You can replace it with StringBuffer without any other change

StringBuffer is used to store character strings that will be changed (String objects cannot be changed). It automatically expands as needed. Related classes: String, CharSequence.

StringBuilder was added in Java 5. It is identical in all respects to StringBuffer except that it is not synchronized, which means that if multiple threads are accessing it at the same time, there could be trouble. For single-threaded programs, the most common case, avoiding the overhead of synchronization makes the StringBuilder very slightly faster.

StringBuffer is synchronized, but StringBuilder is not. As a result, StringBuilder is faster than StringBuffer.

StringBuilder is faster than StringBuffer because it's not synchronized.

Here's a simple benchmark test:

public class Main {
    public static void main(String[] args) {
        int N = 77777777;
        long t;

        {
            StringBuffer sb = new StringBuffer();
            t = System.currentTimeMillis();
            for (int i = N; i --> 0 ;) {
                sb.append("");
            }
            System.out.println(System.currentTimeMillis() - t);
        }

        {
            StringBuilder sb = new StringBuilder();
            t = System.currentTimeMillis();
            for (int i = N; i > 0 ; i--) {
                sb.append("");
            }
            System.out.println(System.currentTimeMillis() - t);
        }
    }
}

A test run gives the numbers of 2241 ms for StringBuffer vs 753 ms for StringBuilder.

A String is an immutable object which means the value cannot be changed whereas StringBuffer is mutable.

The StringBuffer is Synchronized hence thread-safe whereas StringBuilder is not and suitable for only single-threaded instances.

StringBuilder and StringBuffer are almost the same. The difference is that StringBuffer is synchronized and StringBuilder is not. Although, StringBuilder is faster than StringBuffer, the difference in performance is very little. StringBuilder is a SUN's replacement of StringBuffer. It just avoids synchronization from all the public methods. Rather than that, their functionality is the same.

Example of good usage:

If your text is going to change and is used by multiple threads, then it is better to use StringBuffer. If your text is going to change but is used by a single thread, then use StringBuilder.

Better use StringBuilder since it is not synchronized and offers therefore better performance. StringBuilder is a drop-in replacement of the older StringBuffer.

The javadoc explains the difference:

This class provides an API compatible with StringBuffer, but with no guarantee of synchronization. This class is designed for use as a drop-in replacement for StringBuffer in places where the string buffer was being used by a single thread (as is generally the case). Where possible, it is recommended that this class be used in preference to StringBuffer as it will be faster under most implementations.

StringBuilder (introduced in Java 5) is identical to StringBuffer, except its methods are not synchronized. This means it has better performance than the latter, but the drawback is that it is not thread-safe.

Read tutorial for more details.

But needed to get the clear difference with the help of an example?

StringBuffer or StringBuilder

Simply use StringBuilder unless you really are trying to share a buffer between threads. StringBuilder is the unsynchronized (less overhead = more efficient) younger brother of the original synchronized StringBuffer class.

StringBuffer came first. Sun was concerned with correctness under all conditions, so they made it synchronized to make it thread-safe just in case.

StringBuilder came later. Most of the uses of StringBuffer were single-thread and unnecessarily paying the cost of the synchronization.

Since StringBuilder is a drop-in replacement for StringBuffer without the synchronization, there would not be differences between any examples.

If you are trying to share between threads, you can use StringBuffer, but consider whether higher-level synchronization is necessary, e.g. perhaps instead of using StringBuffer, should you synchronize the methods that use the StringBuilder.

In single threads, StringBuffer is not significantly slower than StringBuilder, thanks to JVM optimisations. And in multithreading, you can't use safely a StringBuilder.

Here is my test (not a benchmark, just a test) :

public static void main(String[] args) {

    String withString ="";
    long t0 = System.currentTimeMillis();
    for (int i = 0 ; i < 100000; i++){
        withString+="some string";
    }
    System.out.println("strings:" + (System.currentTimeMillis() - t0));

    t0 = System.currentTimeMillis();
    StringBuffer buf = new StringBuffer();
    for (int i = 0 ; i < 100000; i++){
        buf.append("some string");
    }
    System.out.println("Buffers : "+(System.currentTimeMillis() - t0));

    t0 = System.currentTimeMillis();
    StringBuilder building = new StringBuilder();
    for (int i = 0 ; i < 100000; i++){
        building.append("some string");
    }
    System.out.println("Builder : "+(System.currentTimeMillis() - t0));
}

Results :
strings: 319740
Buffers : 23
Builder : 7 !

So Builders are faster than Buffers, and WAY faster than strings concatenation. Now let's use an Executor for multiple threads :

public class StringsPerf {

    public static void main(String[] args) {

        ThreadPoolExecutor executorService = (ThreadPoolExecutor) Executors.newFixedThreadPool(10);
        //With Buffer
        StringBuffer buffer = new StringBuffer();
        for (int i = 0 ; i < 10; i++){
            executorService.execute(new AppendableRunnable(buffer));
        }
        shutdownAndAwaitTermination(executorService);
        System.out.println(" Thread Buffer : "+ AppendableRunnable.time);

        //With Builder
        AppendableRunnable.time = 0;
        executorService = (ThreadPoolExecutor) Executors.newFixedThreadPool(10);
        StringBuilder builder = new StringBuilder();
        for (int i = 0 ; i < 10; i++){
            executorService.execute(new AppendableRunnable(builder));
        }
        shutdownAndAwaitTermination(executorService);
        System.out.println(" Thread Builder: "+ AppendableRunnable.time);

    }

   static void shutdownAndAwaitTermination(ExecutorService pool) {
        pool.shutdown(); // code reduced from Official Javadoc for Executors
        try {
            if (!pool.awaitTermination(60, TimeUnit.SECONDS)) {
                pool.shutdownNow();
                if (!pool.awaitTermination(60, TimeUnit.SECONDS))
                    System.err.println("Pool did not terminate");
            }
        } catch (Exception e) {}
    }
}

class AppendableRunnable<T extends Appendable> implements Runnable {

    static long time = 0;
    T appendable;
    public AppendableRunnable(T appendable){
        this.appendable = appendable;
    }

    @Override
    public void run(){
        long t0 = System.currentTimeMillis();
        for (int j = 0 ; j < 10000 ; j++){
            try {
                appendable.append("some string");
            } catch (IOException e) {}
        }
        time+=(System.currentTimeMillis() - t0);
    }
}

Now StringBuffers take 157 ms for 100000 appends. It's not the same test, but compared to the previous 37 ms, you can safely assume that StringBuffers appends are slower with multithreading use. The reason is that the JIT/hotspot/compiler/something makes optimizations when it detects that there is no need for checking locks.

But with StringBuilder, you have java.lang.ArrayIndexOutOfBoundsException, because a concurrent thread tries to add something where it should not.

Conclusion is that you don't have to chase StringBuffers. And where you have threads, think about what they are doing, before trying to gain a few nanoseconds.

String is an immutable.

StringBuffer is a mutable and synchronized.

StringBuilder is also mutable but its not synchronized.

Every method present in StringBuffer is Synchronized. hence at a time only one thread is allowed to operate StringBuffer object. It Increases waiting time of a Thread and Creates Performance problems to overcome this problem SUN People intoduced StringBuilder in 1.5 version.

Since StringBuffer is synchronized, it needs some extra effort, hence based on perforamance, its a bit slow than StringBuilder.

The major difference is StringBuffer is syncronized but StringBuilder is not.If you need to use more than one thread , then StringBuffer is recommended.But, as per the execution speed StringBuilder is faster than StringBuffer , because its not syncronized .

First lets see the similarities: Both StringBuilder and StringBuffer are mutable. That means you can change the content of them, with in the same location.

Differences: StringBuffer is mutable and synchronized as well. Where as StringBuilder is mutable but not synchronized by default.

Meaning of synchronized (synchronization): When some thing is synchronized, then multiple threads can access, and modify it with out any problem or side effect. StringBuffer is synchronized, so you can use it with multiple threads with out any problem.

Which one to use when? StringBuilder : When you need a string, which can be modifiable, and only one thread is accessing and modifying it. StringBuffer : When you need a string, which can be modifiable, and multiple threads are accessing and modifying it.

Note : Don't use StringBuffer unnecessarily, i.e., don't use it if only one thread is modifying and accessing it because it has lot of locking and unlocking code for synchronization which will unnecessarily take up CPU time. Don't use locks unless it is required.

A simple program illustrating the difference between StringBuffer and StringBuilder:

/**
 * Run this program a couple of times. We see that the StringBuilder does not
 * give us reliable results because its methods are not thread-safe as compared
 * to StringBuffer.
 * 
 * For example, the single append in StringBuffer is thread-safe, i.e.
 * only one thread can call append() at any time and would finish writing
 * back to memory one at a time. In contrast, the append() in the StringBuilder 
 * class can be called concurrently by many threads, so the final size of the 
 * StringBuilder is sometimes less than expected.
 * 
 */
public class StringBufferVSStringBuilder {

    public static void main(String[] args) throws InterruptedException {

        int n = 10; 

        //*************************String Builder Test*******************************//
        StringBuilder sb = new StringBuilder();
        StringBuilderTest[] builderThreads = new StringBuilderTest[n];
        for (int i = 0; i < n; i++) {
            builderThreads[i] = new StringBuilderTest(sb);
        }
        for (int i = 0; i < n; i++) {
            builderThreads[i].start();
        }
        for (int i = 0; i < n; i++) {
            builderThreads[i].join();
        }
        System.out.println("StringBuilderTest: Expected result is 1000; got " + sb.length());

        //*************************String Buffer Test*******************************//

        StringBuffer sb2 = new StringBuffer();
        StringBufferTest[] bufferThreads = new StringBufferTest[n];
        for (int i = 0; i < n; i++) {
            bufferThreads[i] = new StringBufferTest(sb2);
        }
        for (int i = 0; i < n; i++) {
            bufferThreads[i].start();
        }
        for (int i = 0; i < n; i++) {
            bufferThreads[i].join();
        }
        System.out.println("StringBufferTest: Expected result is 1000; got " + sb2.length());

    }

}

// Every run would attempt to append 100 "A"s to the StringBuilder.
class StringBuilderTest extends Thread {

    StringBuilder sb;

    public StringBuilderTest (StringBuilder sb) {
        this.sb = sb;
    }

    @Override
    public void run() {
        for (int i = 0; i < 100; i++) {
            sb.append("A");
        }

    }
}


//Every run would attempt to append 100 "A"s to the StringBuffer.
class StringBufferTest extends Thread {

    StringBuffer sb2;

    public StringBufferTest (StringBuffer sb2) {
        this.sb2 = sb2;
    }

    @Override
    public void run() {
        for (int i = 0; i < 100; i++) {
            sb2.append("A");
        }

    }
}

Pretty Good Question

Here are the differences, i have noticed :

StringBuffer :-

StringBuffer is  synchronized
StringBuffer is  thread-safe
StringBuffer is  slow (try to write a sample program and execute it, it will take more time than StringBuilder)

StringBuilder:-

 StringBuilder is not synchronized 
 StringBuilder is not thread-safe
 StringBuilder performance is better than StringBuffer.

Common thing :-

Both have same methods with same signatures. Both are mutable.

StringBuffer is mutable. It can change in terms of length and content. StringBuffers are thread-safe, meaning that they have synchronized methods to control access so that only one thread can access a StringBuffer object's synchronized code at a time. Thus, StringBuffer objects are generally safe to use in a multi-threaded environment where multiple threads may be trying to access the same StringBuffer object at the same time.

StringBuilder The StringBuilder class is very similar to StringBuffer, except that its access is not synchronized so that it is not thread-safe. By not being synchronized, the performance of StringBuilder can be better than StringBuffer. Thus, if you are working in a single-threaded environment, using StringBuilder instead of StringBuffer may result in increased performance. This is also true of other situations such as a StringBuilder local variable (ie, a variable within a method) where only one thread will be accessing a StringBuilder object.

StringBuffer:

  • Multi-Thread
  • Synchronized
  • Slow than StringBuilder

StringBuilder

  • Single-Thread
  • Not-Synchronized
  • Faster than ever String

There are no basic differences between StringBuilder and StringBuffer, only a few differences exist between them. In StringBuffer the methods are synchronized. This means that at a time only one thread can operate on them. If there is more than one thread then the second thread will have to wait for the first one to finish and the third one will have to wait for the first and second one to finish and so on. This makes the process very slow and hence the performance in the case of StringBuffer is low.

On the other hand, StringBuilder is not synchronized. This means that at a time multiple threads can operate on the same StringBuilder object at the same time. This makes the process very fast and hence performance of StringBuilder is high.

Check the internals of synchronized append method of StringBuffer and non-synchronized append method of StringBuilder.

StringBuffer:

public StringBuffer(String str) {
    super(str.length() + 16);
    append(str);
}

public synchronized StringBuffer append(Object obj) {
    super.append(String.valueOf(obj));
    return this;
}

public synchronized StringBuffer append(String str) {
    super.append(str);
    return this;
}

StringBuilder:

public StringBuilder(String str) {
    super(str.length() + 16);
    append(str);
}

public StringBuilder append(Object obj) {
    return append(String.valueOf(obj));
}

public StringBuilder append(String str) {
    super.append(str);
    return this;
}

Since append is synchronized, StringBuffer has performance overhead compared to StrinbBuilder in multi-threading scenario. As long as you are not sharing buffer among multiple threads, use StringBuilder, which is fast due to absence of synchronized in append methods.

StringBuffer

StringBuffer is mutable means one can change the value of the object . The object created through StringBuffer is stored in the heap . StringBuffer has the same methods as the StringBuilder , but each method in StringBuffer is synchronized that is StringBuffer is thread safe .

because of this it does not allow two threads to simultaneously access the same method . Each method can be accessed by one thread at a time .

But being thread safe has disadvantages too as the performance of the StringBuffer hits due to thread safe property . Thus StringBuilder is faster than the StringBuffer when calling the same methods of each class.

StringBuffer value can be changed , it means it can be assigned to the new value . Nowadays its a most common interview question ,the differences between the above classes . String Buffer can be converted to the string by using toString() method.

StringBuffer demo1 = new StringBuffer(“Hello”) ;
// The above object stored in heap and its value can be changed .

demo1=new StringBuffer(“Bye”);
// Above statement is right as it modifies the value which is allowed in the StringBuffer

StringBuilder

StringBuilder is same as the StringBuffer , that is it stores the object in heap and it can also be modified . The main difference between the StringBuffer and StringBuilder is that StringBuilder is also not thread safe. StringBuilder is fast as it is not thread safe .

StringBuilder demo2= new StringBuilder(“Hello”);
// The above object too is stored in the heap and its value can be modified

demo2=new StringBuilder(“Bye”);
// Above statement is right as it modifies the value which is allowed in the StringBuilder

enter image description here

Resource: String Vs StringBuffer Vs StringBuilder

String-Builder :

int one = 1;
String color = "red";
StringBuilder sb = new StringBuilder();
sb.append("One=").append(one).append(", Color=").append(color).append('\n');
System.out.print(sb);
// Prints "One=1, Colour=red" followed by an ASCII newline.

String-Buffer

StringBuffer sBuffer = new StringBuffer("test");
sBuffer.append(" String Buffer");
System.out.println(sBuffer);  

It is recommended to use StringBuilder whenever possible because it is faster than StringBuffer. However, if the thread safety is necessary, the best option is StringBuffer objects.

Here is the performance testing result for String vs StringBuffer vs StringBuilder. Finally, StringBuilder won the Test. See below for test code and result.

Code:

private static void performanceTestStringVsStringbuffereVsStringBuilder() {
// String vs StringBiffer vs StringBuilder performance Test

int loop = 100000;
long start = 0;

// String
String str = null;
start = System.currentTimeMillis();
for (int i = 1; i <= loop; i++) {
  str += i + "test";
}
System.out.println("String - " + (System.currentTimeMillis() - start) + " ms");

// String buffer
StringBuffer sbuffer = new StringBuffer();
start = System.currentTimeMillis();
for (int i = 1; i <= loop; i++) {
  sbuffer.append(i).append("test");
}
System.out.println("String Buffer - " + (System.currentTimeMillis() - start) + " ms");

// String builder
start = System.currentTimeMillis();
StringBuilder sbuilder = new StringBuilder();
for (int i = 1; i <= loop; i++) {
  sbuffer.append(i).append("test");
}
System.out.println("String Builder - " + (System.currentTimeMillis() - start) + " ms");

  }

Execute Me on ideone

Result:

100000 iteration for adding a single text

String - 37489 ms
String Buffer - 5 ms
String Builder - 4 ms

10000 iteration for adding a single text

String - 389 ms
String Buffer - 1 ms
String Builder - 1 ms
  • StringBuffer is thread-safe but StringBuilder is not thread safe.
  • StringBuilder is faster than StringBuffer.
  • StringBuffer is synchronized whereas StringBuilder is not synchronized.

StringBuffer is synchronized and thread safe, StringBuilder is not synchronised and faster.

Others have rightly pointed out the key differences between the two. However in terms of performance I would like to add that a JVM level optimization "Lock Elision" which could make the performance difference in context of synchronization to be almost non-existent. An excellent read on this is here and here

Difference between StringBuffer and StringBuilder Source:

enter image description here

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