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Anti-DDoS HTTP Throttling of Extension-Originated Requests

Chrome 20 and later implements a mechanism that is intended to prevent distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks from being perpetrated, maliciously or accidentally, by extensions running within Chrome. Chrome 12 through 19 had a different flavor of this feature, see here.

To disable the feature, which may be useful for some extension developers: Pass the --disable-extensions-http-throttling command-line flag when starting Chrome.

The way the mechanism works is, once a few server errors (HTTP error codes 500 and greater) in a row have been detected for a given URL (minus the query parameters), Chrome assumes the server is either unavailable or overloaded due to a DDoS, and denies requests to the same URL for a short period of time. If, after this period of time, requests keep failing, this "back-off interval" period is increased using an exponential factor, and so on and so forth until the maximum back-off interval is reached. It's important to note that failures due to the throttling itself are not counted as failures that cause the back-off interval to be increased.

The back-off delay is calculated as follows: delay = initial_backoff * multiply_factor^(effective_failure_count - 1) * Uniform(1 - jitter_factor, 1]

For the canonical details on the back-off parameters used, see What follows is based on the most recent values for these parameters as of this writing:

The back-off parameters used in the formula above will (at maximum values, i.e. without the reduction caused by jitter) add 0-41% (distributed uniformly in that range) to the "perceived downtime" of the remote server, once exponential back-off kicks in and is throttling requests for more than about a second at a time. Once the maximum back-off is reached, the added perceived downtime decreases rapidly, percentage-wise.

Another way to put it is that the maximum additional perceived downtime with these numbers is a couple of seconds shy of 15 minutes, and such a delay would not occur until the remote server has been actually unavailable at the end of each back-off period for a total of about 48 minutes.

Back-off does not kick in until after the first 4 errors, which helps avoid back-off from kicking in on// flaky connections. To simplify life for web developers, throttling is never used for URLs that resolve to localhost.

If you believe your extension may be having problems due to HTTP throttling, you can try the following:

  1. Pass the --disable-extensions-http-throttling command-line flag when starting Chrome, to see if the problem reproduces with the feature turned off.
  2. With exponential back-off throttling of extension requests turned on (i.e. without the command-line flag above), visit [chrome://net-internals/#events](javascript:void(0);) and keep it open while you reproduce the problem you were seeing. Diagnostic information will be added to the log, which may help you track down what is happening.