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The maximum number of connections that Apache Tomcat can handle is defined within the Tomcat settings. In essence, this setting determines the number of concurrent connections that can be handled by Apache Tomcat.

Out of the box, Apache Tomcat is configured to handle around 200 simultaneous connections (kind of…), which for most web servers and projects is more than adequate. But when you get into the realms of millions of monthly active users and concurrent connections, you’ll soon need to optimise Tomcat to suit your needs accordingly.

Ultimately though, the number of simultaneous connections that the Apache Tomcat software on your web server is capable is handling is determined by the physical limitations of your web server. The bigger your hardware, the bigger the number of connections that Apache Tomcat is capable of handling. This being said, the 200 maximum connections as a default is merely an arbitrary number, so you’ll need to assess this in relation to the hardware you are running on. The bigger the server hardware you’re running on, the higher the number of maximum connections on Apache Tomcat your server will be able to handle. As always, this can change depending on what you are doing. For example, if you have a process on your really fast server that is calling a third party dog slow server, then this soon becomes the limiting factor in the chain.

Max connections from an Apache Tomcat perspective is calculated based on a number of factors such as the number of simultaneous connections multiplied by the maximum execution time that each thread is capable of handling. Under normal circumstances this can appear to be behaving correctly, so keep in mind exceptional circumstances when things don’t quite perform as you wish. What you’ll soon spot (via the Tomcat Manager) is that the Max Connections soon starts to creep up and eat up all the resources on your server. This can be caused by many factors, from long running processes on your own server, or code on that is calling third party servers which may be running slow and causing problems.

With all this in mind, let’s take a look at how to increase the maximum connections on Apache Tomcat. It’s actually quite simple to do.

Run the command;

 


sudo nano /usr/share/tomcat8/conf/server.xml

 

This command will open the editor to edit the file Server.xml which controls many of the settings required for configuring Apache Tomcat. You’ll note that it is Apache Tomcat 8 that is being used in this example, so edit this accordingly for the version of Apache Tomcat that you are using. Again, depending on your individual configuration of your server, this file may live in a different file path. So to easily find the file if the above command doesn’t work, then run the command below;

 


find / -type f -name server.xml

 

The above command will search for a File (f) called “server.xml”

What you’re looking for within this file is the setting for “maxConnections” which will have a value set. You may not have this variable set so look out for the core settings for the port that your Tomcat instance is listening on, for example;

 


<Connector port=”8080” protocol=”HTTP/1.1” maxConnections=”200”/>

 

The maximum number of connections that the server will accept and process at any given time. When this number has been reached, the server will accept, but not process, one further connection. This additional connection be blocked until the number of connections being processed falls below maxConnections at which point the server will start accepting and processing new connections again.

Depending on your specific requirements, you may also need to increase the maxThreads setting too. Hope that helps getting you started with tuning Apache Tomcat for your specific needs.

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Michael Cropper

Founder & Managing Director at Contrado Digital Ltd
Michael founded Contrado Digital in 2013. He has experience working with national and multi-national brands in a wide range of industries, helping them achieve awesome results. Michael regularly speaks at local universities and industry events while keeping up with the latest trends in the digital industry.