Health Checks and Graceful Shutdown

Graceful shutdown

When you deploy a new version of your application, you must replace the previous version. The process manager you’re using will first send a SIGTERM signal to the application to notify it that it will be killed. Once the application gets this signal, it will stop accepting new requests, finish all the ongoing requests, and clean up the resources it used, including database connections and file locks.

Health checks

A load balancer uses health checks to determine if an application instance is healthy and can accept requests. For example, Kubernetes has two health checks:

  • liveness, that determines when to restart a container.
  • readiness, that determines when a container is ready to start accepting traffic. When a pod is not ready, it is removed from the service load balancers.

Third-party solution: terminus

Terminus is an open-source project that adds health checks and graceful shutdown to your application to eliminate the need to write boilerplate code. You just provide the cleanup logic for graceful shutdowns and the health check logic for health checks, and terminus handles the rest.

Install terminus as follows:

npm i @godaddy/terminus --save

Here’s a basic template that illustrates using terminus. For more information, see https://github.com/godaddy/terminus.

const http = require('http');
const express = require('express');
const terminus = require('@godaddy/terminus');

const app = express();

app.get('/', (req, res) => {

const server = http.createServer(app);

function onSignal() {
  console.log('server is starting cleanup');
  // start cleanup of resource, like databases or file descriptors

async function onHealthCheck() {
  // checks if the system is healthy, like the db connection is live
  // resolves, if health, rejects if not

terminus(server, {
  signal: 'SIGINT',
   healthChecks: {
    '/healthcheck': onHealthCheck,


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