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isMounted is an Antipattern

December 16, 2015 by Jim Sproch

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As we move closer to officially deprecating isMounted, it’s worth understanding why the function is an antipattern, and how to write code without the isMounted function.

The primary use case for isMounted() is to avoid calling setState() after a component has unmounted, because calling setState() after a component has unmounted will emit a warning. The “setState warning” exists to help you catch bugs, because calling setState() on an unmounted component is an indication that your app/component has somehow failed to clean up properly. Specifically, calling setState() in an unmounted component means that your app is still holding a reference to the component after the component has been unmounted - which often indicates a memory leak!

To avoid the error message, people often add lines like this:

if (this.isMounted()) { // This is bad.

Checking isMounted before calling setState() does eliminate the warning, but it also defeats the purpose of the warning, since now you will never get the warning (even when you should!)

Other uses of isMounted() are similarly erroneous; using isMounted() is a code smell because the only reason you would check is because you think you might be holding a reference after the component has unmounted.

An easy migration strategy for anyone upgrading their code to avoid isMounted() is to track the mounted status yourself. Just set a _isMounted property to true in componentDidMount and set it to false in componentWillUnmount, and use this variable to check your component’s status.

An optimal solution would be to find places where setState() might be called after a component has unmounted, and fix them. Such situations most commonly occur due to callbacks, when a component is waiting for some data and gets unmounted before the data arrives. Ideally, any callbacks should be canceled in componentWillUnmount, prior to unmounting.

For instance, if you are using a Flux store in your component, you must unsubscribe in componentWillUnmount:

class MyComponent extends React.Component {
  componentDidMount() {
  render() {
  componentWillUnmount() {
    mydatastore.unsubscribe(this);  }

If you use ES6 promises, you may need to wrap your promise in order to make it cancelable.

const cancelablePromise = makeCancelable(
  new Promise(r => component.setState({...}))

  .then(() => console.log('resolved'))
  .catch((reason) => console.log('isCanceled', reason.isCanceled));

cancelablePromise.cancel(); // Cancel the promise

Where makeCancelable was originally defined by @istarkov as:

const makeCancelable = (promise) => {
  let hasCanceled_ = false;

  const wrappedPromise = new Promise((resolve, reject) => {
      val => hasCanceled_ ? reject({isCanceled: true}) : resolve(val),
      error => hasCanceled_ ? reject({isCanceled: true}) : reject(error)

  return {
    promise: wrappedPromise,
    cancel() {
      hasCanceled_ = true;

As an added bonus for getting your code cleaned up early, getting rid of isMounted() makes it one step easier for you to upgrade to ES6 classes, where using isMounted() is already prohibited. Happy coding!

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