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file watching benchmarks

Travis Build Status Azure Pipelines Build Status

With the fanfare surrounding the release of chokidar@3.0.0, and the subsequent long list of new bugs which affected some of my projects, I decided to take a look at the issue of watching files. Long story short, watchboy was born and he's magnificent!

To make sure that he's doing a good job watching after your files, I created this benchmark suite. While I wrote and ran it, I am making it available to everyone so that you can check my work. Feel free to run it and submit more test cases that you want to see compared. With that said, let's talk about results.

Note: all memory measurements were taken after garbage collection.

Test machines

Tests are run in Azure Pipelines, for repeatability. The following specs are used (I will simply be referring to these machines as Windows, Linux and MacOS below):

OS Processor Cores
Microsoft Windows Server 2019 Datacenter Intel(R) Xeon(R) CPU E5-2673 v4 @ 2.30GHz 2
Ubuntu 16.04.6 LTS Intel(R) Xeon(R) CPU E5-2673 v4 @ 2.30GHz 2
macOS 10.14.6 Intel(R) Xeon(R) CPU E5-1650 v2 @ 3.50GHz 4

Typical large install of node_modules

After installing some heavyweight node modules, including ones like jest and babel, I ended up with roughly 6400 files in 400 directories. I decided to start this benchmark at that size, using a repeatable folder structure and controlled files.


Library Ready In Retained Heap Retained RSS
chokidar 3467.31ms 70.8 MB 114 MB
gaze 2740.80ms 37.1 MB 46.4 MB
watchboy 881.00ms 16 MB 21.6 MB


Library Ready In Retained Heap Retained RSS
chokidar 1946.24ms 74.1 MB 88.9 MB
gaze 1138.32ms 36.3 MB 35.8 MB
watchboy 717.04ms 16.5 MB 22.5 MB


Library Ready In Retained Heap Retained RSS
chokidar 579.52ms 39.1 MB 48 MB
gaze 1579.90ms 35.1 MB 37.8 MB
watchboy 926.40ms 17.3 MB 25.6 MB

Typical large project

A much more typical project -- think monorepo -- when watching only project files without dependencies can be around 320 files in 20 directories. I simulated that as well in a similar manner.


Library Ready In Retained Heap Retained RSS
chokidar 252.52ms 15.2 MB 11.6 MB
gaze 258.33ms 5.05 MB 5.99 MB
watchboy 117.67ms 4.74 MB 5.26 MB


Library Ready In Retained Heap Retained RSS
chokidar 178.46ms 15 MB 12.5 MB
gaze 172.20ms 4.67 MB 5.1 MB
watchboy 86.60ms 5.81 MB 7.46 MB


Library Ready In Retained Heap Retained RSS
chokidar 60.81ms 4.57 MB 4.19 MB
gaze 266.00ms 4.72 MB 4.66 MB
watchboy 182.63ms 15.9 MB 13.3 MB

Memory footprint

This one is more for fun, but I wanted to see how much memory is needed to simply require each module and have it be present at runtime. Here's the breakdown:

Library Windows size Linux size MacOS size
chokidar 1.63 MB 1.58 MB 2.35 MB
gaze 3.31 MB 2.43 MB 5.01 MB
watchboy 1.57 MB 1.7 MB 2.15 MB

Download size

An extension of the footprint, this metric measures how many files are installed as a result of each dependency, as well as the total size of each dependency.

Library Packages Directories Files Total size
chokidar (Windows) 14 18 78 338 kB
chokidar (MacOS) 15 19 83 373 kB
gaze 14 19 1111 1.6 MB
watchboy 14 17 81 346 kB

Run the benchmarks yourself

The results presented here are from pipeline runs in Azure Pipelines. There are pipelines in Travis-CI as well, showing comparable results. You can also run them yourself on your own machine if you'd like:

git clone
cd filewatch-benchmarks
npm install

# run all benchmarks
npm start

# get the names of all available benchmarks
npm run testlist

# run only a single test from the above list
npm start -- <test name>

All the tests themselves are defined in the benchmarks directory.

The benchmarks are powered by grandma. If you want to see a different test, feel free to add it and send me a PR.

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