Mastering Entity Framework Core Change Tracking: A Comprehensive Guide (2023)

In the realm of database management and seamless updates, Entity Framework Core (EF Core) stands as a powerful ally. Understanding the intricacies of change tracking is crucial for harnessing its full potential. In this comprehensive guide, we delve into the nuances of EF Core change tracking, shedding light on its functionalities and best practices.

Tracking Entities in EF Core

Tracking entities in EF Core is the linchpin of effective database updates. Entities enter the tracking realm through various channels:

  • Returned from a Database Query: Entities obtained through a database query automatically fall under the vigilant gaze of EF Core change tracking.

  • Explicit Attachment: The DbContext gains awareness of entities when explicitly attached through methods like Add, Attach, Update, or similar operations.

  • Connection to Existing Tracked Entities: New entities linked to existing tracked entities seamlessly become part of the change tracking ecosystem.

Entities bid adieu to tracking when:

  • DbContext Disposal: The lifecycle of a DbContext is pivotal. Disposing of it is the norm after creating, tracking, and updating entities.

  • Change Tracker Clearance: Explicitly clearing the change tracker or detaching entities signals the end of tracking for specific entities.

Entity States Unveiled

Understanding the state of an entity within EF Core is akin to deciphering its status in the database. States include:

  • Detached: Entities not under the watchful eye of DbContext.

  • Added: Novel entities awaiting insertion into the database upon invoking SaveChanges.

  • Unchanged: Entities maintaining their original state since being queried from the database.

  • Modified: Entities undergoing changes, destined for an update during the next SaveChanges call.

  • Deleted: Entities earmarked for deletion upon the next SaveChanges invocation.

EF Core's meticulous property-level tracking ensures that only modified properties trigger database updates. This nuanced approach optimizes the efficiency of updates.

Optimal Change Tracking from Queries

EF Core's change tracking prowess shines brightest when a single DbContext instance handles both entity queries and subsequent updates. This seamless integration empowers EF Core to automatically detect changes made to queried entities during SaveChanges, streamlining the entire process.

Benefits of this approach include simplicity, limited updates to changed values, and preservation of shadow property values—especially pertinent when dealing with foreign keys stored in shadow state.

Simple Query and Update Scenario

Let's illustrate the elegance of EF Core change tracking through a simple example involving a blog and posts model:

// Code snippet for querying and updating entities

In this scenario, SaveChanges triggers precise database updates, only modifying the changed values. The change tracker debug view provides a visual representation of tracked entities and their states.

Query, Insert, Update, and Delete in Harmony

EF Core change tracking seamlessly accommodates a combination of queries, inserts, updates, and deletes within the same unit-of-work. The following example showcases the fluidity of such operations:

// Code snippet for combined operations

The change tracker debug view, preceding SaveChanges, clearly outlines the modified, added, and deleted entities, providing a roadmap for subsequent database commands.


Mastering EF Core change tracking elevates your database management prowess. By seamlessly integrating queries and updates within a DbContext instance, you unlock a streamlined approach to efficient and precise database modifications. EF Core's nuanced tracking mechanisms, coupled with the ability to handle diverse operations in a single unit-of-work, position it as a formidable tool in the realm of entity management. Embrace the power of EF Core change tracking for a database experience that is not just efficient but elegantly orchestrated.


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Sen. Emmett Berge

Last Updated: 11/16/2023

Views: 5864

Rating: 5 / 5 (80 voted)

Reviews: 87% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Sen. Emmett Berge

Birthday: 1993-06-17

Address: 787 Elvis Divide, Port Brice, OH 24507-6802

Phone: +9779049645255

Job: Senior Healthcare Specialist

Hobby: Cycling, Model building, Kitesurfing, Origami, Lapidary, Dance, Basketball

Introduction: My name is Sen. Emmett Berge, I am a funny, vast, charming, courageous, enthusiastic, jolly, famous person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.