By default HttpClient is configured to provide maximum reliability and standards compliance rather than raw performance. There are several configuration options and optimization techniques which can significantly improve the performance of HttpClient. This document outlines various techniques to achieve maximum HttpClient performance.

Reuse the HttpClient instance

Generally it is recommended to have a single instance of HttpClient per communication component or even per application. However, if the application makes use of HttpClient only very infrequently, and keeping an idle instance of HttpClient in memory is not warranted, it is highly recommended to explicitly shut down the multithreaded connection manager prior to disposing the HttpClient instance. This will ensure proper closure of all HTTP connections in the connection pool.

Connection persistence

HttpClient always does its best to reuse connections. Connection persistence is enabled by default and requires no configuration. Under some situations this can lead to leaked connections and therefore lost resources. The easiest way to disable connection persistence is to provide or extend a connection manager that force-closes connections upon release in the releaseConnection method.

Concurrent execution of HTTP methods

If the application logic allows for execution of multiple HTTP requests concurrently (e.g. multiple requests against various sites, or multiple requests representing different user identities), the use of a dedicated thread per HTTP session can result in a significant performance gain. HttpClient is fully thread-safe when used with a thread-safe connection manager such as MultiThreadedHttpConnectionManager. Please note that each respective thread of execution must have a local instance of HttpMethod and can have a local instance of HttpState or/and HostConfiguration to represent a specific host configuration and conversational state. At the same time the HttpClient instance and connection manager should be shared among all threads for maximum efficiency.

For details on using multiple threads with HttpClient please refer to the HttpClient Threading Guide.

Request/Response entity streaming

HttpClient is capable of efficient request/response body streaming. Large entities may be submitted or received without being buffered in memory. This is especially critical if multiple HTTP methods may be executed concurrently. While there are convenience methods to deal with entities such as strings or byte arrays, their use is discouraged. Unless used carefully they can easily lead to out of memory conditions, since they imply buffering of the complete entity in memory.

Response streaming: It is recommended to consume the HTTP response body as a stream of bytes/characters using HttpMethod#getResponseBodyAsStream method. The use of HttpMethod#getResponseBody and HttpMethod#getResponseBodyAsString are strongly discouraged.

  HttpClient httpclient = new HttpClient();
  GetMethod httpget = new GetMethod("");
  try {
    Reader reader = new InputStreamReader(
            httpget.getResponseBodyAsStream(), httpget.getResponseCharSet()); 
    // consume the response entity
  } finally {

Request streaming: The main difficulty encountered when streaming request bodies is that some entity enclosing methods need to be retried due to an authentication failure or an I/O failure. Obviously non-buffered entities cannot be reread and resubmitted. The recommended approach is to create a custom RequestEntity capable of reconstructing the underlying input stream.

public class FileRequestEntity implements RequestEntity {

    private File file = null;
    public FileRequestEntity(File file) {
        this.file = file;

    public boolean isRepeatable() {
        return true;

    public String getContentType() {
        return "text/plain; charset=UTF-8";
    public void writeRequest(OutputStream out) throws IOException {
        InputStream in = new FileInputStream(this.file);
        try {
            int l;
            byte[] buffer = new byte[1024];
            while ((l = != -1) {
                out.write(buffer, 0, l);
        } finally {

    public long getContentLength() {
        return file.length();

File myfile = new File("myfile.txt");
PostMethod httppost = new PostMethod("/stuff");
httppost.setRequestEntity(new FileRequestEntity(myfile));

Expect-continue handshake

The purpose of the HTTP 100 (Continue) status is to allow a client sending a request entity to determine if the target server is willing to accept the request (based on the request headers) before the client sends the request entity. It is highly inefficient for the client to send the request entity if the server will reject the request without looking at the body. Authentication failures are the most common reason for the request to be rejected based on the request headers alone. Therefore, use of the 'Expect-continue' handshake is especially recommended with those target servers that require HTTP authentication. For proxied requests caution must be taken as older HTTP/1.0 proxies may be unable to correctly handle the 'Expect-continue' handshake.

See the http.protocol.expect-continue parameter documentation for more information.

Stale connection check

HTTP specification permits both the client and the server to terminate a persistent (keep-alive) connection at any time without notice to the counterpart, thus rendering the connection invalid or stale. By default HttpClient performs a check, just prior to executing a request, to determine if the active connection is stale. The cost of this operation is about 15-30 ms, depending on the JRE used. Disabling stale connection check may result in slight performance improvement, especially for small payload responses, at the risk of getting an I/O error when executing a request over a connection that has been closed at the server side.

See the http.connection.stalecheck parameter documentation for more information.

Cookie processing

If an application, such as web spider, does not need to maintain conversational state with the target server, a small performance gain can made by disabling cookie processing. For details on cookie processing please to the HttpClient Cookies Guide.