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React useEffect Hooks


The useEffect Hook allows you to perform side effects in your components.

Some examples of side effects are: fetching data, directly updating the DOM, and timers.

useEffect accepts two arguments. The second argument is optional.

useEffect(<function>, <dependency>)


Let's use a timer as an example.

Example:

Use setTimeout() to count 1 second after initial render:

import { useState, useEffect } from "react";
import ReactDOM from "react-dom";

function Timer() {
  const [count, setCount] = useState(0);

  useEffect(() => {
    setTimeout(() => {
      setCount((count) => count + 1);
    }, 1000);
  });

  return <h1>I've rendered {count} times!</h1>;
}

ReactDOM.render(<Timer />, document.getElementById('root'));

Run Example »

But wait!! I keeps counting even though it should only count once!

useEffect runs on every render. That means that when the count changes, a render happens, which then triggers another effect.

This is not what we want. There are several ways to control when side effects run.

We should always include the second parameter which accepts an array. We can optionally pass dependencies to useEffect in this array.

1. No dependency passed:

  useEffect(() => {
    //Runs on every render
  });

2. An empty array:

  useEffect(() => {
    //Runs only on the first render
  }, []);

3. Props or state values:

  useEffect(() => {
    //Runs on the first render
    //And any time any dependency value changes
  }, [prop, state]);

So, to fix this issue, let's only run this effect on the initial render.

Example:

Only run the effect on the initial render:

import { useState, useEffect } from "react";
import ReactDOM from "react-dom";

function Timer() {
  const [count, setCount] = useState(0);

  useEffect(() => {
    setTimeout(() => {
      setCount((count) => count + 1);
    }, 1000);
  } []); // <- add empty brackets here

  return <h1>I've rendered {count} times!</h1>;
}

ReactDOM.render(<Timer />, document.getElementById('root'));

Run Example »

Example:

Here is an example of a useEffect Hook that is dependent on a variable. If the count variable updates, the effect will run again:

import { useState, useEffect } from "react";
import ReactDOM from "react-dom";

function Counter() {
  const [count, setCount] = useState(0);
  const [calculation, setCalculation] = useState(0);

  useEffect(() => {
    setCalculation(() => count * 2);
  }, [count]); // <- add the count variable here

  return (
    <>
      <p>Count: {count}</p>
      <button onClick={() => setCount((c) => c + 1)}>+</button>
      <p>Calculation: {calculation}</p>
    </>
  );
}

ReactDOM.render(<Counter />, document.getElementById('root'));

Run Example »

If there are multiple dependencies, they should be included in the useEffect dependency array.


Effect Cleanup

Some effects require cleanup to reduce memory leaks.

Timeouts, subscriptions, event listeners, and other effects that are no longer needed should be disposed.

We do this by including a return function at the end of the useEffect Hook.

Example:

Clean up the timer at the end of the useEffect Hook:

import { useState, useEffect } from "react";
import ReactDOM from "react-dom";

function Timer() {
  const [count, setCount] = useState(0);

  useEffect(() => {
    let timer = setTimeout(() => {
    setCount((count) => count + 1);
  }, 1000);

  return () => clearTimeout(timer)
  }, []);

  return <h1>I've rendered {count} times!</h1>;
}

ReactDOM.render(<Timer />, document.getElementById("root"));

Run Example »

Note: To clear the timer, we had to name it.