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HTTP Request Rate Limiter for Rack Applications

This is Rack middleware that provides logic for rate-limiting incoming HTTP requests to Rack applications. You can use Rack::Throttle with any Ruby web framework based on Rack, including with Ruby on Rails and with Sinatra.


  • Throttles a Rack application by enforcing a minimum time interval between subsequent HTTP requests from a particular client, as well as by defining a maximum number of allowed HTTP requests per a given time period (per minute, hourly, or daily).
  • Compatible with any Rack application and any Rack-based framework.
  • Stores rate-limiting counters in any key/value store implementation that responds to #[]/#[]= (like Ruby's hashes) or to #get/#set (like memcached or Redis).
  • Compatible with the gdbm binding included in Ruby's standard library.
  • Compatible with the memcached, memcache-client, memcache and redis gems.
  • Compatible with Heroku's memcached add-on (currently available as a free beta service).


Adding throttling to a Rails application

# config/application.rb
require 'rack/throttle'

class Application < Rails::Application
  config.middleware.use Rack::Throttle::Interval

Adding throttling to a Sinatra application

#!/usr/bin/env ruby -rubygems
require 'sinatra'
require 'rack/throttle'

use Rack::Throttle::Interval

get('/hello') { "Hello, world!\n" }

Adding throttling to a Rackup application

#!/usr/bin/env rackup
require 'rack/throttle'

use Rack::Throttle::Interval

run lambda { |env| [200, {'Content-Type' => 'text/plain'}, "Hello, world!\n"] }

Enforcing a minimum 3-second interval between requests

use Rack::Throttle::Interval, :min => 3.0

Allowing a maximum of 1 request per second

use Rack::Throttle::Second,   :max => 1

Allowing a maximum of 60 requests per minute

use Rack::Throttle::Minute,   :max => 60

Allowing a maximum of 100 requests per hour

use Rack::Throttle::Hourly,   :max => 100

Allowing a maximum of 1,000 requests per day

use Rack::Throttle::Daily,    :max => 1000

Combining various throttling constraints into one overall policy

use Rack::Throttle::Daily,    :max => 1000  # requests
use Rack::Throttle::Hourly,   :max => 100   # requests
use Rack::Throttle::Minute,   :max => 60    # requests
use Rack::Throttle::Second,   :max => 1     # requests
use Rack::Throttle::Interval, :min => 3.0   # seconds

Storing the rate-limiting counters in a GDBM database

require 'gdbm'

use Rack::Throttle::Interval, :cache =>'tmp/throttle.db')

Storing the rate-limiting counters on a Memcached server

require 'memcached'

use Rack::Throttle::Interval, :cache =>, :key_prefix => :throttle

Storing the rate-limiting counters on a Redis server

require 'redis'

use Rack::Throttle::Interval, :cache =>, :key_prefix => :throttle

Throttling Strategies

Rack::Throttle supports four built-in throttling strategies:

  • Rack::Throttle::Interval: Throttles the application by enforcing a minimum interval (by default, 1 second) between subsequent HTTP requests.
  • Rack::Throttle::Hourly: Throttles the application by defining a maximum number of allowed HTTP requests per hour (by default, 3,600 requests per 60 minutes, which works out to an average of 1 request per second).
  • Rack::Throttle::Daily: Throttles the application by defining a maximum number of allowed HTTP requests per day (by default, 86,400 requests per 24 hours, which works out to an average of 1 request per second).
  • Rack::Throttle::Minute: Throttles the application by defining a maximum number of allowed HTTP requests per minute (by default, 60 requests per 1 minute, which works out to an average of 1 request per second).
  • Rack::Throttle::Second: Throttles the application by defining a maximum number of allowed HTTP requests per second (by default, 1 request per second).
  • Rack::Throttle::Rules: Throttles the application by defining different rules of allowed HTTP request per time_window based on the request method and the request paths, or use a default.

You can fully customize the implementation details of any of these strategies by simply subclassing one of the aforementioned default implementations. And, of course, should your application-specific requirements be significantly more complex than what we've provided for, you can also define entirely new kinds of throttling strategies by subclassing the Rack::Throttle::Limiter base class directly.


Customize the max_per_second to be different depending on the request's method.

class Rack::Throttle::RequestMethod < Rack::Throttle::Second

  def max_per_second(request = nil)
    return (options[:max_per_second] || options[:max] || 1) unless request
    if request.request_method == "POST"
  alias_method :max_per_window, :max_per_second


Passing the correct options for Rules strategy.

rules = [
  { method: "POST", limit: 5 },
  { method: "GET", limit: 10 },
  { method: "GET", path: "/users/.*/profile", limit: 3 },
  { method: "GET", path: "/users/.*/reset_password", limit: 1 }
  { method: "GET", path: "/external/callback", whitelisted: true }
ip_whitelist = [
default = 10

use Rack::Throttle::Rules, rules: rules, ip_whitelist: ip_whitelist, default: default

This configuration would allow a maximum of 3 profile requests per second (default), i 1 reset password requests per second, 5 POST and 10 GET requests per second (always also based on the IPaddress). Additionally it would whitelist the external callback and add a ip-whitelisting for the given ips.

Rules are checked in this order:

  • ip whitelist
  • rules with paths,
  • rules with methods only,
  • default.

It is possible to set the time window for this strategy to: :second (default), :minute, :hour or :day, to change the check interval to these windows.

use Rack::Throttle::Rules, limits: limits, time_window: :minute

HTTP Client Identification

The rate-limiting counters stored and maintained by Rack::Throttle are keyed to unique HTTP clients.

By default, HTTP clients are uniquely identified by their IP address as returned by Rack::Request#ip. If you wish to instead use a more granular, application-specific identifier such as a session key or a user account name, you need only subclass a throttling strategy implementation and override the #client_identifier method.

HTTP Response Codes and Headers

403 Forbidden (Rate Limit Exceeded)

When a client exceeds their rate limit, Rack::Throttle by default returns a "403 Forbidden" response with an associated "Rate Limit Exceeded" message in the response body.

An HTTP 403 response means that the server understood the request, but is refusing to respond to it and an accompanying message will explain why. This indicates an error on the client's part in exceeding the rate limits outlined in the acceptable use policy for the site, service, or API.

503 Service Unavailable (Rate Limit Exceeded)

However, there exists a widespread practice of instead returning a "503 Service Unavailable" response when a client exceeds the set rate limits. This is technically dubious because it indicates an error on the server's part, which is certainly not the case with rate limiting - it was the client that committed the oops, not the server.

An HTTP 503 response would be correct in situations where the server was genuinely overloaded and couldn't handle more requests, but for rate limiting an HTTP 403 response is more appropriate. Nonetheless, if you think otherwise, Rack::Throttle does allow you to override the returned HTTP status code by passing in a :code => 503 option when constructing a Rack::Throttle::Limiter instance.



The recommended installation method is via RubyGems. To install the latest official release of the gem, do:

% [sudo] gem install rack-throttle




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  • Don't use hard tabs, and don't leave trailing whitespace on any line. Before committing, run git diff --check to make sure of this.
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This is free and unencumbered public domain software. For more information, see or the accompanying UNLICENSE file.