Exponential Backoff

Exponential backoff is an algorithm that retries requests to the server based on certain status codes in the server response. The retries exponentially increase the waiting time up to a certain threshold. The idea is that if the server is down temporarily, it is not overwhelmed with requests hitting at the same time when it comes back up.

The exponential backoff feature of the Google HTTP Client Library for Java provides an easy way to retry on transient failures:

Backoff is turned off by default in HttpRequest. The examples below demonstrate how to turn it on.


To set HttpRequest to use HttpBackOffUnsuccessfulResponseHandler with default values:

HttpRequest request = ...
request.setUnsuccessfulResponseHandler(new HttpBackOffUnsuccessfulResponseHandler(new ExponentialBackOff()));
// HttpBackOffUnsuccessfulResponseHandler is designed to work with only one HttpRequest at a time.
// As a result, you MUST create a new instance of HttpBackOffUnsuccessfulResponseHandler with a new
// instance of BackOff for each instance of HttpRequest.
HttpResponse = request.execute();

To alter the detailed parameters of ExponentialBackOff, use its Builder methods:

ExponentialBackOff backoff = new ExponentialBackOff.Builder()
request.setUnsuccessfulResponseHandler(new HttpBackOffUnsuccessfulResponseHandler(backoff));

To create your own implementation of BackOff:

class CustomBackOff implements BackOff {

@Override public long nextBackOffMillis() throws IOException { ... }

@Override public void reset() throws IOException { ... } }

request.setUnsuccessfulResponseHandler(new HttpBackOffUnsuccessfulResponseHandler(new CustomBackOff()))