Understanding Server-side and Client-side Timeouts and How to Set Them Up

When working with web applications, it’s essential to understand the concept of timeouts and how they can impact the performance and user experience of your application. Timeouts can occur on both the server-side and client-side, and it’s crucial to know the differences between them and how to set them up correctly. In this blog post, we will discuss server-side and client-side timeouts, their differences, and how to set them up using FastAPI, Gunicorn, and the Requests library.

Server-side Timeout

A server-side timeout occurs when the server takes too long to process a request or send a response. This can happen due to various reasons, such as slow processing, high server load, or network latency. When a server-side timeout occurs, the server may terminate the connection, resulting in an error or incomplete response sent to the client.

To manage server-side timeouts, you can use a reverse proxy like Gunicorn with your FastAPI application. Gunicorn allows you to set a worker timeout, which is the maximum time a worker process can take to complete a request. If a worker does not complete the request within the specified timeout, it will be killed, and a new worker will be spawned.

Here’s an example of how to use Gunicorn with Uvicorn workers to set a timeout:

gunicorn -w 4 -k uvicorn.workers.UvicornWorker -t 60 main:app

In this command:

  • -w 4: Sets the number of worker processes to 4.
  • -k uvicorn.workers.UvicornWorker: Specifies the worker class to be UvicornWorker.
  • -t 60: Sets the worker timeout to 60 seconds.
  • main:app: Points to your FastAPI application instance.

Client-side Timeout

A client-side timeout occurs when the client (e.g., a web browser or an API client) takes too long to receive a response from the server. This can happen due to various reasons, such as slow server processing, network latency, or client-side processing delays. When a client-side timeout occurs, the client may terminate the connection, resulting in an error or incomplete response.

To manage client-side timeouts, you can use an HTTP client library that allows you to set timeout values, such as the Requests library in Python.

Here’s an example of how to set a timeout when making a request using the Requests library:

import requests

url = "http://your-fastapi-app.com/endpoint"
timeout = 5.0 # Timeout in seconds

response = requests.get(url, timeout=timeout)

In this example, the request will time out if it takes longer than 5 seconds to complete.


Understanding the differences between server-side and client-side timeouts is crucial for building reliable and performant web applications. By using tools like Gunicorn and the Requests library, you can effectively manage timeouts and ensure a better user experience for your FastAPI application. Remember to monitor your application’s performance and adjust timeout settings as needed to find the optimal balance between responsiveness and resource usage.

Author: robot learner
Reprint policy: All articles in this blog are used except for special statements CC BY 4.0 reprint policy. If reproduced, please indicate source robot learner !