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October 15th 2018
Last Modified


Go Healthcheck provides a generic health checking framework. The health package works expvar style. By importing the package the debug server is getting a /debug/health endpoint that returns the current status of the application. If there are no errors, /debug/health will return a HTTP 200 status, together with an empty JSON reply {}. If there are any checks with errors, the JSON reply will include all the failed checks, and the response will be have a HTTP 500 status.

A Check can either be run synchronously, or asynchronously. We recommend that most checks are registered as an asynchronous check, so a call to the /debug/health endpoint always returns immediately. This pattern is particularly useful for checks that verify upstream connectivity or database status, since they might take a long time to return/timeout.


To install go-healthcheck, just import it in your application:

import ""

You can also (optionally) import health/api that will add two convenience endpoints: /debug/health/down and /debug/health/up. These endpoints add “manual” checks that allow the service to quickly be brought in/out of rotation.

import _ ""

# curl localhost:5001/debug/health
# curl -X POST localhost:5001/debug/health/down
# curl localhost:5001/debug/health
{"manual_http_status":"Manual Check"}

After importing these packages to your main application, you can start registering checks.

Registering Checks

The recommended way of registering checks is using a periodic Check. PeriodicChecks run on a certain schedule and asynchronously update the status of the check. This allows CheckStatus() to return without blocking on an expensive check.

A trivial example of a check that runs every 5 seconds and shuts down our server if the current minute is even, could be added as follows:

 func currentMinuteEvenCheck() error {
   m := time.Now().Minute()
   if m%2 == 0 {
     return errors.New("Current minute is even!")
   return nil

 health.RegisterPeriodicFunc("minute_even", currentMinuteEvenCheck, time.Second*5)

Alternatively, you can also make use of RegisterPeriodicThresholdFunc to implement the exact same check, but add a threshold of failures after which the check will be unhealthy. This is particularly useful for flaky Checks, ensuring some stability of the service when handling them.

health.RegisterPeriodicThresholdFunc("minute_even", currentMinuteEvenCheck, time.Second*5, 4)

The lowest-level way to interact with the health package is calling Register directly. Register allows you to pass in an arbitrary string and something that implements Checker and runs your check. If your method returns an error with nil, it is considered a healthy check, otherwise it will make the health check endpoint /debug/health start returning a 500 and list the specific check that failed.

Assuming you wish to register a method called currentMinuteEvenCheck() error you could do that by doing:

health.Register("even_minute", health.CheckFunc(currentMinuteEvenCheck))

CheckFunc is a convenience type that implements Checker.

Another way of registering a check could be by using an anonymous function and the convenience method RegisterFunc. An example that makes the status endpoint always return an error:

 health.RegisterFunc("my_check", func() error {
  return"This is an error!")


You could also use the health checker mechanism to ensure your application only comes up if certain conditions are met, or to allow the developer to take the service out of rotation immediately. An example that checks database connectivity and immediately takes the server out of rotation on err:

 updater = health.NewStatusUpdater()
  health.RegisterFunc("database_check", func() error {
   return updater.Check()

 conn, err := Connect(...) // database call here
 if err != nil {
   updater.Update(errors.New("Error connecting to the database: " + err.Error()))

You can also use the predefined Checkers that come included with the health package. First, import the checks:

import "

After that you can make use of any of the provided checks. An example of using a FileChecker to take the application out of rotation if a certain file exists can be done as follows:

health.Register("fileChecker", health.PeriodicChecker(checks.FileChecker("/tmp/disable"), time.Second*5))

After registering the check, it is trivial to take an application out of rotation from the console:

# curl localhost:5001/debug/health
# touch /tmp/disable
# curl localhost:5001/debug/health
{"fileChecker":"file exists"}

You could also test the connectivity to a downstream service by using a HTTPChecker, but ensure that you only mark the test unhealthy if there are a minimum of two failures in a row:

health.Register("httpChecker", health.PeriodicThresholdChecker(checks.HTTPChecker(""), time.Second*5, 2))

Reporting security issues

The maintainers take security seriously. If you discover a security issue, please bring it to their attention right away!

Please DO NOT file a public issue, instead send your report privately to

Security reports are greatly appreciated and we will publicly thank you for it. We also like to send gifts—if you’re into Docker schwag, make sure to let us know. We currently do not offer a paid security bounty program, but are not ruling it out in the future.

Copyright and license

Copyright © 2015 Docker, Inc. Licensed under the Apache License, Version 2.0.