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Shadow Copying of Applications

By , 16 Oct 2008
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Introduction

Running an application shadow copied can be useful for purposes like auto-updating. On normal execution, the assembly gets locked by the loader and can't be substituted while it's executed. On shadow copying, all assemblies referenced are copied to a cache path, and loaded/executed from this location - so the assemblies aren't locked, and can be changed.

Background

This technique is well known in ASP.NET, but on the application side, there's little information (even on MSDN). Therefore, I'd like to share my findings.

Using the Code

For executing an assembly from the cache path, we have to use a loader/bootstrapper. This little program creates a domain from which the application gets loaded. That means, when we want to start the application, we have to start the loader that loads the application for us.

The code for the application and all the referenced assemblies need no change.

The code for the loader is:

using System;
using System.IO;

namespace Loader
{
    static class Program
    {
        [LoaderOptimization(LoaderOptimization.MultiDomainHost)]
        [STAThread]
        static void Main()
        {
            /* Enable shadow copying */

            // Get the startup path. Both assemblies (Loader and
            // MyApplication) reside in the same directory:
            string startupPath = Path.GetDirectoryName(
				System.Reflection.Assembly
				.GetExecutingAssembly().Location);

            // cache path = directory where the assemblies get
            // (shadow) copied:
            string cachePath = Path.Combine(
                startupPath,
                "__cache");
            string configFile = Path.Combine(
                startupPath,
                "MyApplication.exe.config");
            string assembly = Path.Combine(
                startupPath,
                "MyApplication.exe");

            // Create the setup for the new domain:
            AppDomainSetup setup = new AppDomainSetup();
            setup.ApplicationName = "MyApplication";
            setup.ShadowCopyFiles = "true"; // note: it isn't a bool
            setup.CachePath = cachePath;
            setup.ConfigurationFile = configFile;

            // Create the application domain. The evidence of this
            // running assembly is used for the new domain:
            AppDomain domain = AppDomain.CreateDomain(
                "MyApplication",
                AppDomain.CurrentDomain.Evidence,
                setup);

            // Start MyApplication by executing the assembly:
            domain.ExecuteAssembly(assembly);

            // After the MyApplication has finished clean up:
            AppDomain.Unload(domain);
            Directory.Delete(cachePath, true);
        }
    }
}

Points of Interest

This simple program gives us the possibility to easily create auto updates (that replace the application's assembly).

History

  • 07 October 2008 - Initial release
  • 14 October 2008 - Article updated

License

This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)

About the Author

Günther M. FOIDL
Software Developer (Senior) Foidl Günther
Austria Austria
Engineer in combustion engine development.
Programming languages: C#, FORTRAN 95, Matlab
 
FIS-overall worldcup winner in Speedski (Downhill) 2008/09 and 2009/10.

Comments and Discussions

 
GeneralMy vote of 5 PinmemberSimon Raffl20-May-13 7:22 
GeneralMy vote of 5 PinmemberRahul Rajat Singh26-Nov-12 20:13 
QuestionRequires Admin Permissions PinmemberJeff Bowman18-Jun-12 13:29 
GeneralMy vote of 5 Pinmembermanoj kumar choubey26-Feb-12 21:33 
QuestionUser priviliges? PinmemberTobiasP15-Oct-08 3:08 
AnswerRe: User priviliges? PinmemberGünther M. FOIDL15-Oct-08 3:48 
GeneralRe: User priviliges? PinmemberEd.Poore16-Oct-08 11:44 
GeneralRe: User priviliges? PinmemberGünther M. FOIDL16-Oct-08 12:07 
GeneralRe: User priviliges? PinmemberEd.Poore16-Oct-08 12:14 
GeneralEnvironment.CurrentDirectory is wrong... PinmemberDanilo Corallo10-Oct-08 2:01 
GeneralRe: Environment.CurrentDirectory is wrong... PinmemberGünther M. FOIDL10-Oct-08 2:24 
GeneralRe: Environment.CurrentDirectory is wrong... PinmemberDanilo Corallo10-Oct-08 2:33 
GeneralRe: Environment.CurrentDirectory is wrong... PinmemberGünther M. FOIDL10-Oct-08 3:06 
GeneralRe: Environment.CurrentDirectory is wrong... Pinmembernicorac13-Oct-08 20:38 
AnswerRe: Environment.CurrentDirectory is wrong... PinmemberGünther M. FOIDL13-Oct-08 21:43 
Thanks, you're right. I'm going to alter the code.
 
System.Windows.Forms.Application.StartupPath returns also the correct path.
 
Cheers Günther
 
Edit: marked as answer
GeneralRe: Environment.CurrentDirectory is wrong... Pinmembernicorac14-Oct-08 3:21 
GeneralRe: Environment.CurrentDirectory is wrong... [modified] PinmemberGünther M. FOIDL14-Oct-08 6:37 
GeneralRe: Environment.CurrentDirectory is wrong... PinmemberSkylinc14-Oct-08 18:52 
GeneralRe: Environment.CurrentDirectory is wrong... PinmemberGünther M. FOIDL14-Oct-08 21:18 
GeneralOn deleting... Pinmemberpikipoki9-Oct-08 4:24 
GeneralRe: On deleting... PinmemberGünther M. FOIDL9-Oct-08 4:44 
GeneralRe: On deleting... Pinmemberdejanstanic9-Oct-08 8:08 
GeneralMultiple instances and updating multiple files PinmemberTobiasP18-Oct-08 0:26 
GeneralRe: Multiple instances and updating multiple files PinmemberGünther M. FOIDL18-Oct-08 2:01 
GeneralNice PinmemberCaio Kinzel Filho7-Oct-08 8:38 
GeneralRe: Nice PinmemberGünther M. FOIDL7-Oct-08 8:47 
GeneralRe: Nice PinmemberCaio Kinzel Filho7-Oct-08 9:12 

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