What is the most efficient way to deep clone an object in JavaScript? [Answers]

In this post, we’ll share the top best answers on how to deep clone an object in JavaScript.

How to deep clone an object in JavaScript? Answer #1:

Native deep cloning

It’s called “structured cloning”, works experimentally in Node 11 and later, and hopefully will land in browsers.

Fast cloning with data loss – JSON.parse/stringify

If you do not use Dates, functions, undefinedInfinity, RegExps, Maps, Sets, Blobs, FileLists, ImageDatas, sparse Arrays, Typed Arrays or other complex types within your object, a very simple one liner to deep clone an object is:

JSON.parse(JSON.stringify(object))

const a = {
  string: 'string',
  number: 123,
  bool: false,
  nul: null,
  date: new Date(),  // stringified
  undef: undefined,  // lost
  inf: Infinity,  // forced to 'null'
  re: /.*/,  // lost
}
console.log(a);
console.log(typeof a.date);  // Date object
const clone = JSON.parse(JSON.stringify(a));
console.log(clone);
console.log(typeof clone.date);  // result of .toISOString()

Reliable cloning using a library

Since cloning objects is not trivial (complex types, circular references, function etc.), most major libraries provide function to clone objects. Don’t reinvent the wheel – if you’re already using a library, check if it has an object cloning function. For example,

  • lodash – cloneDeep; can be imported separately via the lodash.clonedeep module and is probably your best choice if you’re not already using a library that provides a deep cloning function
  • AngularJS – angular.copy
  • jQuery – jQuery.extend(true, { }, oldObject).clone() only clones DOM elements
  • just library – just-clone; Part of a library of zero-dependency npm modules that do just do one thing. Guilt-free utilities for every occasion.

ES6 (shallow copy)

For completeness, note that ES6 offers two shallow copy mechanisms: Object.assign() and the spread syntax. which copies values of all enumerable own properties from one object to another. For example:

var A1 = {a: "2"};
var A2 = Object.assign({}, A1);
var A3 = {...A1};  // Spread Syntax

How to deep clone an object in JavaScript? Answer #2:

In my previous tests where speed was the main concern I found

JSON.parse(JSON.stringify(obj))

to be the slowest way to deep clone an object (it is slower than jQuery.extend with deep flag set true by 10-20%).

jQuery.extend is pretty fast when the deep flag is set to false (shallow clone). It is a good option, because it includes some extra logic for type validation and doesn’t copy over undefined properties, etc., but this will also slow you down a little.

If you know the structure of the objects you are trying to clone or can avoid deep nested arrays you can write a simple for (var i in obj) loop to clone your object while checking hasOwnProperty and it will be much much faster than jQuery.

Lastly if you are attempting to clone a known object structure in a hot loop you can get MUCH MUCH MORE PERFORMANCE by simply in-lining the clone procedure and manually constructing the object.

JavaScript trace engines suck at optimizing for..in loops and checking hasOwnProperty will slow you down as well. Manual clone when speed is an absolute must.

var clonedObject = {
  knownProp: obj.knownProp,
  ..
}

Beware using the JSON.parse(JSON.stringify(obj)) method on Date objects – JSON.stringify(new Date()) returns a string representation of the date in ISO format, which JSON.parse() doesn’t convert back to a Date object.

Additionally, please note that, in Chrome 65 at least, native cloning is not the way to go. According to JSPerf, performing native cloning by creating a new function is nearly 800x slower than using JSON.stringify which is incredibly fast all the way across the board.

If you are using Javascript ES6 try this native method for cloning or shallow copy.

Object.assign({}, obj);

Answer #3:

Structured Cloning

2021 update: The structuredClone global function is coming to browsers, Node.js, and Deno soon.

The HTML standard includes an internal structured cloning/serialization algorithm that can create deep clones of objects. It is still limited to certain built-in types, but in addition to the few types supported by JSON it also supports Dates, RegExps, Maps, Sets, Blobs, FileLists, ImageDatas, sparse Arrays, Typed Arrays, and probably more in the future. It also preserves references within the cloned data, allowing it to support cyclical and recursive structures that would cause errors for JSON.

Support in Node.js: Experimental 🙂

The structuredClone global function will soon be provided by Node.js:

const clone = structuredClone(original);

Until then: The v8 module in Node.js currently (as of Node 11) exposes the structured serialization API directly, but this functionality is still marked as “experimental”, and subject to change or removal in future versions. If you’re using a compatible version, cloning an object is as simple as:

const v8 = require('v8');

const structuredClone = obj => {
  return v8.deserialize(v8.serialize(obj));
};

Direct Support in Browsers: Coming Soon 🙂

The structuredClone global function will soon be provided by all major browsers (having previously been discussed in whatwg/html#793 on GitHub). It looks / will look like this:

const clone = structuredClone(original);

Until this is shipped, browsers’ structured clone implementations are only exposed indirectly.

Asynchronous Workaround: Usable. 😕

The lower-overhead way to create a structured clone with existing APIs is to post the data through one port of a MessageChannels. The other port will emit a message event with a structured clone of the attached .data. Unfortunately, listening for these events is necessarily asynchronous, and the synchronous alternatives are less practical.

class StructuredCloner {
  constructor() {
    this.pendingClones_ = new Map();
    this.nextKey_ = 0;
    
    const channel = new MessageChannel();
    this.inPort_ = channel.port1;
    this.outPort_ = channel.port2;
    
    this.outPort_.onmessage = ({data: {key, value}}) => {
      const resolve = this.pendingClones_.get(key);
      resolve(value);
      this.pendingClones_.delete(key);
    };
    this.outPort_.start();
  }

  cloneAsync(value) {
    return new Promise(resolve => {
      const key = this.nextKey_++;
      this.pendingClones_.set(key, resolve);
      this.inPort_.postMessage({key, value});
    });
  }
}

const structuredCloneAsync = window.structuredCloneAsync =
    StructuredCloner.prototype.cloneAsync.bind(new StructuredCloner);

Example Use:

const main = async () => {
  const original = { date: new Date(), number: Math.random() };
  original.self = original;

  const clone = await structuredCloneAsync(original);

  // They're different objects:
  console.assert(original !== clone);
  console.assert(original.date !== clone.date);

  // They're cyclical:
  console.assert(original.self === original);
  console.assert(clone.self === clone);

  // They contain equivalent values:
  console.assert(original.number === clone.number);
  console.assert(Number(original.date) === Number(clone.date));
  
  console.log("Assertions complete.");
};

main();

Synchronous Workarounds: Awful! 🤢

There are no good options for creating structured clones synchronously. Here are a couple of impractical hacks instead.

history.pushState() and history.replaceState() both create a structured clone of their first argument, and assign that value to history.state. You can use this to create a structured clone of any object like this:

const structuredClone = obj => {
  const oldState = history.state;
  history.replaceState(obj, null);
  const clonedObj = history.state;
  history.replaceState(oldState, null);
  return clonedObj;
};

Though synchronous, this can be extremely slow. It incurs all of the overhead associated with manipulating the browser history. Calling this method repeatedly can cause Chrome to become temporarily unresponsive.

The Notification constructor creates a structured clone of its associated data. It also attempts to display a browser notification to the user, but this will silently fail unless you have requested notification permission. In case you have the permission for other purposes, we’ll immediately close the notification we’ve created.

const structuredClone = obj => {
  const n = new Notification('', {data: obj, silent: true});
  n.onshow = n.close.bind(n);
  return n.data;
};

Answer #4:

Assuming that you have only variables and not any functions in your object, you can just use:

var newObject = JSON.parse(JSON.stringify(oldObject));

Answer #5:

If there wasn’t any builtin one, you could try:

function clone(obj) {
    if (obj === null || typeof (obj) !== 'object' || 'isActiveClone' in obj)
        return obj;

    if (obj instanceof Date)
        var temp = new obj.constructor(); //or new Date(obj);
    else
        var temp = obj.constructor();

    for (var key in obj) {
        if (Object.prototype.hasOwnProperty.call(obj, key)) {
            obj['isActiveClone'] = null;
            temp[key] = clone(obj[key]);
            delete obj['isActiveClone'];
        }
    }
    return temp;
}

Answer #6:

The efficient way to clone(not deep-clone) an object in one line of code

An Object.assign method is part of the ECMAScript 2015 (ES6) standard and does exactly what you need.

var clone = Object.assign({}, obj);

The Object.assign() method is used to copy the values of all enumerable own properties from one or more source objects to a target object.

Read more…

The polyfill to support older browsers:

if (!Object.assign) {
  Object.defineProperty(Object, 'assign', {
    enumerable: false,
    configurable: true,
    writable: true,
    value: function(target) {
      'use strict';
      if (target === undefined || target === null) {
        throw new TypeError('Cannot convert first argument to object');
      }

      var to = Object(target);
      for (var i = 1; i < arguments.length; i++) {
        var nextSource = arguments[i];
        if (nextSource === undefined || nextSource === null) {
          continue;
        }
        nextSource = Object(nextSource);

        var keysArray = Object.keys(nextSource);
        for (var nextIndex = 0, len = keysArray.length; nextIndex < len; nextIndex++) {
          var nextKey = keysArray[nextIndex];
          var desc = Object.getOwnPropertyDescriptor(nextSource, nextKey);
          if (desc !== undefined && desc.enumerable) {
            to[nextKey] = nextSource[nextKey];
          }
        }
      }
      return to;
    }
  });
}

Answer #7:

Deep copy by performance: Ranked from best to worst

  • spread operator ... (primitive arrays – only)
  • splice(0) (primitive arrays – only)
  • slice() (primitive arrays – only)
  • concat() (primitive arrays – only)
  • custom function, as seen below (any array)
  • jQuery’s $.extend() (any array)
  • JSON.parse(JSON.stringify()) (primitive and literal arrays – only)
  • Underscore’s _.clone() (primitive and literal arrays – only)
  • Lodash’s _.cloneDeep() (any array)

Where:

  • primitives = strings, numbers, and booleans
  • literals = object literals {}, array literals []
  • any = primitives, literals, and prototypes

Deep copy an array of primitives:

let arr1a = [1, 'a', true];

To deep copy arrays with primitives only (i.e. numbers, strings, and booleans), reassignment, slice()concat(), and Underscore’s clone() can be used.

Where spread has the fastest performance:

let arr1b = [...arr1a];

And where slice() has better performance than concat()https://jsbench.me/x5ktn7o94d/

let arr1c = arr1a.splice(0);
let arr1d = arr1a.slice();
let arr1e = arr1a.concat();

Deep copy an array of primitive and object literals:

let arr2a = [1, 'a', true, {}, []];
let arr2b = JSON.parse(JSON.stringify(arr2a));

Deep copy an array of primitive, object literals, and prototypes:

let arr3a = [1, 'a', true, {}, [], new Object()];

Write a custom function (has faster performance than $.extend() or JSON.parse):

function copy(o) {
  let out, v, key;
  out = Array.isArray(o) ? [] : {};
  for (key in o) {
    v = o[key];
    out[key] = (typeof v === "object" && v !== null) ? copy(v) : v;
  }
  return out;
}

let arr3b = copy(arr3a);

Or use third-party utility functions:

let arr3c = $.extend(true, [], arr3a); // jQuery Extend
let arr3d = _.cloneDeep(arr3a); // Lodash

Note: jQuery’s $.extend also has better performance than JSON.parse(JSON.stringify()):

Answer #8:

Deep copying objects in JavaScript (I think the best and the simplest)

1. Using JSON.parse(JSON.stringify(object));

var obj = { 
  a: 1,
  b: { 
    c: 2
  }
}
var newObj = JSON.parse(JSON.stringify(obj));
obj.b.c = 20;
console.log(obj); // { a: 1, b: { c: 20 } }
console.log(newObj); // { a: 1, b: { c: 2 } } 

2.Using created method

function cloneObject(obj) {
    var clone = {};
    for(var i in obj) {
        if(obj[i] != null &&  typeof(obj[i])=="object")
            clone[i] = cloneObject(obj[i]);
        else
            clone[i] = obj[i];
    }
    return clone;
}

var obj = { 
  a: 1,
  b: { 
    c: 2
  }
}
var newObj = cloneObject(obj);
obj.b.c = 20;

console.log(obj); // { a: 1, b: { c: 20 } }
console.log(newObj); // { a: 1, b: { c: 2 } } 

3. Using Lo-Dash’s _.cloneDeep link lodash

var obj = { 
  a: 1,
  b: { 
    c: 2
  }
}

var newObj = _.cloneDeep(obj);
obj.b.c = 20;
console.log(obj); // { a: 1, b: { c: 20 } }
console.log(newObj); // { a: 1, b: { c: 2 } } 

4. Using Object.assign() method

var obj = { 
  a: 1,
  b: 2
}

var newObj = _.clone(obj);
obj.b = 20;
console.log(obj); // { a: 1, b: 20 }
console.log(newObj); // { a: 1, b: 2 }  

BUT WRONG WHEN

var obj = { 
  a: 1,
  b: { 
    c: 2
  }
}

var newObj = Object.assign({}, obj);
obj.b.c = 20;
console.log(obj); // { a: 1, b: { c: 20 } }
console.log(newObj); // { a: 1, b: { c: 20 } } --> WRONG
// Note: Properties on the prototype chain and non-enumerable properties cannot be copied.

5.Using Underscore.js _.clone link Underscore.js

var obj = { 
  a: 1,
  b: 2
}

var newObj = _.clone(obj);
obj.b = 20;
console.log(obj); // { a: 1, b: 20 }
console.log(newObj); // { a: 1, b: 2 }  

BUT WRONG WHEN

var obj = { 
  a: 1,
  b: { 
    c: 2
  }
}

var newObj = _.cloneDeep(obj);
obj.b.c = 20;
console.log(obj); // { a: 1, b: { c: 20 } }
console.log(newObj); // { a: 1, b: { c: 20 } } --> WRONG
// (Create a shallow-copied clone of the provided plain object. Any nested objects or arrays will be copied by reference, not duplicated.)

How to clone an object in JavaScript? Answer #9:

To do this for any object in JavaScript will not be simple or straightforward. You will run into the problem of erroneously picking up attributes from the object’s prototype that should be left in the prototype and not copied to the new instance. If, for instance, you are adding a clone method to Object.prototype, as some answers depict, you will need to explicitly skip that attribute. But what if there are other additional methods added to Object.prototype, or other intermediate prototypes, that you don’t know about? In that case, you will copy attributes you shouldn’t, so you need to detect unforeseen, non-local attributes with the hasOwnProperty method.

In addition to non-enumerable attributes, you’ll encounter a tougher problem when you try to copy objects that have hidden properties. For example, prototype is a hidden property of a function. Also, an object’s prototype is referenced with the attribute __proto__, which is also hidden, and will not be copied by a for/in loop iterating over the source object’s attributes. I think __proto__ might be specific to Firefox’s JavaScript interpreter and it may be something different in other browsers, but you get the picture. Not everything is enumerable. You can copy a hidden attribute if you know its name, but I don’t know of any way to discover it automatically.

Yet another snag in the quest for an elegant solution is the problem of setting up the prototype inheritance correctly. If your source object’s prototype is Object, then simply creating a new general object with {} will work, but if the source’s prototype is some descendant of Object, then you are going to be missing the additional members from that prototype which you skipped using the hasOwnProperty filter, or which were in the prototype, but weren’t enumerable in the first place. One solution might be to call the source object’s constructor property to get the initial copy object and then copy over the attributes, but then you still will not get non-enumerable attributes. For example, a Date object stores its data as a hidden member:

function clone(obj) {
    if (null == obj || "object" != typeof obj) return obj;
    var copy = obj.constructor();
    for (var attr in obj) {
        if (obj.hasOwnProperty(attr)) copy[attr] = obj[attr];
    }
    return copy;
}

var d1 = new Date();

/* Executes function after 5 seconds. */
setTimeout(function(){
    var d2 = clone(d1);
    alert("d1 = " + d1.toString() + "\nd2 = " + d2.toString());
}, 5000);

The date string for d1 will be 5 seconds behind that of d2. A way to make one Date the same as another is by calling the setTime method, but that is specific to the Date class. I don’t think there is a bullet-proof general solution to this problem, though I would be happy to be wrong!

When I had to implement general deep copying I ended up compromising by assuming that I would only need to copy a plain ObjectArrayDateStringNumber, or Boolean. The last 3 types are immutable, so I could perform a shallow copy and not worry about it changing. I further assumed that any elements contained in Object or Array would also be one of the 6 simple types in that list. This can be accomplished with code like the following:

function clone(obj) {
    var copy;

    // Handle the 3 simple types, and null or undefined
    if (null == obj || "object" != typeof obj) return obj;

    // Handle Date
    if (obj instanceof Date) {
        copy = new Date();
        copy.setTime(obj.getTime());
        return copy;
    }

    // Handle Array
    if (obj instanceof Array) {
        copy = [];
        for (var i = 0, len = obj.length; i < len; i++) {
            copy[i] = clone(obj[i]);
        }
        return copy;
    }

    // Handle Object
    if (obj instanceof Object) {
        copy = {};
        for (var attr in obj) {
            if (obj.hasOwnProperty(attr)) copy[attr] = clone(obj[attr]);
        }
        return copy;
    }

    throw new Error("Unable to copy obj! Its type isn't supported.");
}

The above function will work adequately for the 6 simple types I mentioned, as long as the data in the objects and arrays form a tree structure. That is, there isn’t more than one reference to the same data in the object. For example:

// This would be cloneable:
var tree = {
    "left"  : { "left" : null, "right" : null, "data" : 3 },
    "right" : null,
    "data"  : 8
};

// This would kind-of work, but you would get 2 copies of the 
// inner node instead of 2 references to the same copy
var directedAcylicGraph = {
    "left"  : { "left" : null, "right" : null, "data" : 3 },
    "data"  : 8
};
directedAcyclicGraph["right"] = directedAcyclicGraph["left"];

// Cloning this would cause a stack overflow due to infinite recursion:
var cyclicGraph = {
    "left"  : { "left" : null, "right" : null, "data" : 3 },
    "data"  : 8
};
cyclicGraph["right"] = cyclicGraph;

It will not be able to handle any JavaScript object, but it may be sufficient for many purposes as long as you don’t assume that it will just work for anything you throw at it.

Hope you learned something from this post.

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