Fix “Max retries exceeded with URL” error in Python requests library

Python is a simple, minimalistic, and easy-to-comprehend programming language that is globally-accepted and universally-used today. Its simple, easy-to-learn syntax can sometimes lead Python developers – especially those who are newer to the language – into missing some of its subtleties and underestimating the power of the diverse Python language.

One of the most popular error messages that new developers encounter when using requests library in Python is the “Max retries exceeded with URL” (besides timeout errors). While it seems simple, sometimes this somewhat vague error message can make even advanced Python developers scratching their head for a few good hours.

This article will show you what causes “Max retries exceeded with URL” error and a few ways to debug it.

“Max retries exceeded with URL” debugging

Max retries exceeded with URL is a common error, you will encounter it when using requests library to make a request. The error indicates that the request cannot be made successfully. Usually, the verbose error message should look like the output below

Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "/home/nl/", line 17, in <module>
    page1 = requests.get(ap)
  File "/usr/local/lib/python2.7/dist-packages/requests/", line 55, in get
    return request('get', url, **kwargs)
  File "/usr/local/lib/python2.7/dist-packages/requests/", line 44, in request
    return session.request(method=method, url=url, **kwargs)
  File "/usr/local/lib/python2.7/dist-packages/requests/", line 383, in request
    resp = self.send(prep, **send_kwargs)
  File "/usr/local/lib/python2.7/dist-packages/requests/", line 486, in send
    r = adapter.send(request, **kwargs)
  File "/usr/local/lib/python2.7/dist-packages/requests/", line 378, in send
    raise ConnectionError(e)
requests.exceptions.ConnectionError: HTTPSConnectionPool(host='', port=443): Max retries exceeded with url: /api (Caused by <class 'socket.gaierror'>: [Errno -2] Name or service not known)Code language: JavaScript (javascript)

Sometimes, the error message may look slightly different, like below :

requests.exceptions.ConnectionError(MaxRetryError("HTTPSConnectionPool(host='', port=443): \
    Max retries exceeded with url: /api.json (\
    Caused by <class 'socket.error'>: [Errno 10054] \
    An existing connection was forcibly closed by the remote host)",),)Code language: HTML, XML (xml)
requests.exceptions.ConnectionError: HTTPConnectionPool(host='localhost', port=8001): Max retries exceeded with url: /api (Caused by NewConnectionError('<urllib3.connection.HTTPConnection object at 0x10f96ecc0>: Failed to establish a new connection: [Errno 61] Connection refused'))Code language: JavaScript (javascript)
requests.exceptions.ConnectionError: HTTPConnectionPool(host='', port=80): Max retries exceeded with url: /api (Caused by NewConnectionError('<urllib3.connection.HTTPConnection object at 0x0000008EC69AAA90>: Failed to establish a new connection: [Errno 11001] getaddrinfo failed'))Code language: JavaScript (javascript)
requests.exceptions.SSLError: HTTPSConnectionPool(host='', port=443): Max retries exceeded with url: /api (Caused by SSLError(SSLEOFError(8, 'EOF occurred in violation of protocol (_ssl.c:997)')))Code language: JavaScript (javascript)

The error message usually begins with requests.exceptions.ConnectionError, which tell us that there is something bad happened when requests was trying to connect. Sometimes, the exception is requests.exceptions.SSLError which is obviously a SSL-related problem.

The exception then followed by a more detailed string about the error, which could be Failed to establish a new connection: [Errno 61] Connection refused, [Errno 11001] getaddrinfo failed, [Errno 10054] An existing connection was forcibly closed by the remote host or [Errno -2] Name or service not known. These messages were produced by the underlying system library which requests called internally. Based on these texts, we can further isolate and fix the problems.

Double-check the URL

There are a possibility that your requested URL wrong. It may be malformed or leading to a non-existent endpoint. In reality, this is usually the case among Python beginners. Seasoned developers can also encounter this error, especially when the URL is parsed from a webpage, which can be a relative URL or schemeless URL.

One way to further debug this is to prepare the URL in advance, then print it before actually making a connection.

# ...
url = soup.find("#linkout").href
print(url) # prints out "/api" which is a non-valid URL
r = requests.get(url)Code language: PHP (php)

Unstable internet connection / server overload

The underlying problem may be related to your own connection or the server you’re trying to connect to. Unstable internet connection may cause packet loss between network hops, leading to unsuccessful connection. There are times the server has received so many requests that it cannot process them all, therefore your requests won’t receive a response.

In this case, you can try increasing retry attempts and disable keep-alive connections to see if the problems go away. The amount of time spent for each request will certainly increase too, but that’s a trade-off you must accept. Better yet, find a more reliable internet connection.

import requests
requests.adapters.DEFAULT_RETRIES = 5 # increase retries number
s = requests.session()
s.keep_alive = False # disable keep alive
s.get(url)Code language: PHP (php)

Increase request timeout

Another way that you can avoid “Max retries exceeded with URL” error, especially when the server is busy handling a huge number of connections, is to increase the amount of time requests library waits for a response from the server. In other words, you wait longer for a response, but increase the chance for a request to successfully finishes. This method can also be applied when the server is in a location far away from yours.

In order to increase request timeout, simply pass the time value in seconds to the get or post method :

r = requests.get(url, timeout=3)

You can also pass a tuple to timeout with the first element being a connect timeout (the time it allows for the client to establish a connection to the server), and the second being a read timeout (the time it will wait on a response once your client has established a connection).

If the request establishes a connection within 2 seconds and receives data within 5 seconds of the connection being established, then the response will be returned as it was before. If the request times out, then the function will raise a Timeout exception:

requests.get('', timeout=(2, 5))Code language: JavaScript (javascript)

Apply backoff factor

backoff_factor is an urllib3 argument, the library which requests relies on to initialize a network connection. Below is an example where we use backoff_factor to slow down the requests to the servers whenever there’s a failed one.

import requests
from requests.adapters import HTTPAdapter
from requests.packages.urllib3.util.retry import Retry

session = requests.Session()
retry = Retry(connect=3, backoff_factor=1)
adapter = HTTPAdapter(max_retries=retry)
session.mount('http://', adapter)
session.mount('https://', adapter)

session.get(url)Code language: JavaScript (javascript)

According to urllib3 documentation, backoff_factor is base value which the library use to calculate sleep interval between retries. Specifically, urllib3 will sleep for {backoff factor} * (2 ^ ({number of total retries} - 1)) seconds after every failed connection attempt.

For example, If the backoff_factor is 0.1, then sleep() will sleep for 0.0s, 0.2s, 0.4s, … between retries. By default, backoff is disabled (set to 0). It will also force a retry if the status code returned is 500, 502, 503 or 504.

You can customize Retry to have even more granular control over retries. Other notable options are:

  • total – Total number of retries to allow.
  • connect – How many connection-related errors to retry on.
  • read – How many times to retry on read errors.
  • redirect – How many redirects to perform.
  • _methodwhitelist – Set of uppercased HTTP method verbs that we should retry on.
  • _statusforcelist – A set of HTTP status codes that we should force a retry on.
  • _backofffactor – A backoff factor to apply between attempts.
  • _raise_onredirect – Whether, if the number of redirects is exhausted, to raise a MaxRetryError, or to return a response with a response code in the 3xx range.
  • raise_on_status – Similar meaning to _raise_onredirect: whether we should raise an exception, or return a response, if status falls in _statusforcelist range and retries have been exhausted.

We hope that the article helped you successfully debugged “Max retries exceeded with URL” error in Python requests library, as well as avoid encountering it in the future. We’ve also written a few other guides for fixing common Python errors, such as Timeout in Python requests, Python Unresolved Import in VSCode or “IndexError: List Index Out of Range” in Python. If you have any suggestion, please feel free to leave a comment below.

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