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HTTP Health Check Microservice

The problem: You're running a web service which does not have a health check built in. (Example: Apache Nifi) Worse yet, the web service doesn't accept GET requests, so you can't just proxy an endpoint to it.

The solution: This script. It is a self-contained node.js script with no external dependencies. It will listen on a port and test HTTP connections to other TCP ports on localhost. If the connection succeeds, it returns HTTP 200. Otherwise, it returns HTTP 500.

This has been successfully used in production by the Data Analytics team.


  • Node.js

Starting the microservice on the CLI

./http-health-check-server.js [ port ]

  • port: The TCP port to listen on

Using the microservice

The format for using the microservice is: http://localhost:$PORT/$PORT_TO_TEST[p][/$URI/TO/TEST]

  • $PORT is the port this microservice is running on (default 4010)
  • $PORT_TO_TEST is the port on the localhost to test
  • p - If specified, send a POST request instead of a GET request
  • $URI/TO/TEST an optional URI to test against. Slashes are allowed.


Connecting to a service which is down (an HTTP 503 is also returned):

$ curl localhost:4010/1234
Unable to connect to backend service on http://localhost:1234/. Response: Error: connect ECONNREFUSED

Connect to a service which is up (an HTTP 200 is returned):

$ curl localhost:4010/8080
Backend service on port 8080 is running!

Connect to a service which returns a 302 (we'll return an HTTP 503, since this is a non-200 repsonse):

$ curl localhost:4010/8080/nifi
Got status code of 302 on http://localhost:8080/nifi (post=false) instead of 200. Body:

Connect to a service which returns a 404 (in which case we'll return a 503):

$ curl localhost:4010/4000/
Got status code of 404 on http://localhost:4000/ (post=false) instead of 200. Body: <html>
<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html;charset=ISO-8859-1"/>

Let's assume we have a service listening on port 4000 with the URI of /create, but it does not accept GET requests. Let's try proxying a GET to it:

$ curl localhost:4010/4000/create
Got status code of 405 on http://localhost:4000/create (post=false) instead of 200. Body: <html>
<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html;charset=ISO-8859-1"/>

...note that this proxy returned an HTTP 503.

Connect to the same service, but make a POST request:

# curl localhost:4010/4000p/create
Backend service on port 4000 is running!

Integration with Nginx

Put the following into your server block in Nginx:

location /ping {

    proxy_set_header        Host $host;
    proxy_set_header        X-Real-IP $remote_addr;
    proxy_set_header        X-Forwarded-For $proxy_add_x_forwarded_for;
    proxy_set_header        X-Forwarded-Proto $scheme;

    # Fix the “It appears that your reverse proxy set up is broken" error.
    proxy_pass          http://localhost:4010/4000p/create;
    proxy_read_timeout  90;

Integration with Upstart

Put the following into /etc/init/http-health-check-server.conf:

start on startup
#start on filesystem and net-device-up IFACE!=lo

# Run our server
exec /path/to/http-health-check-server.js 4010 2>&1 | logger -t http-health-check-server -i

# Respawn if this process dies

# Respawn a maximum of 5 times in 10 seconds
respawn limit 5 10

Once this file is installed, the process can be controlled with start http-health-check-server, stop http-health-check-server, and status http-health-check-server.


This has been thoroughly tested on Node.js 0.10. It has been tested less rigorously on Node.js 6.x.


A utility to proxy HTTP health checks to a non-public service or one that only supports POST.




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