Improve Tomcat Startup Time

Out of the box, my Tomcat version 7.0.62 with 8 webapps inside two different <Host/> containers booted in around 52 seconds. This article describes how I cut this to under 10 seconds.

Remove websocket support

First off, I didn't need support for websockets, so I removed those from my Tomcat alltogheter, any JAR or webapp Tomcat doesn't need to pay attention to can only improve startup performance:

$ rm tomcat/lib/websocket-api.jar
$ rm tomcat/lib/tomcat-websocket.jar

Tomcat now started in around 37 seconds.

Remove Servlet 3 scanning

The second thing I did to improve this startup time, was to remove the Servlet 3 scanning. This was easily done by editing tomcat/conf/


Tomcat now started in around 12 seconds.

Remove TLD scanning

Since my application uses TLDs in a number of context, I couldn't turn off TLD scanning completely. However, I turned it off for all but a few JARs where I know there exists TLDs (a little shell voodoo gave me the answer).

To make this as easy as possible, I've create a wee shell script to create this exclusion string, let's you create this exclusion list by simply invoking it like this:

$ /opt/tomcat-engine1

The result of this command, I added as the value to this configuration option inside tomcat/conf/

## Everything else except JARs containing TLDs (like jstl.jar):

All that jazz got me another second, Tomcat now started in just under than 11 seconds.

Load Engine and Host containers in parallel

I then skimmed off another couple of seconds by making the <Host/> and <Engine/> containers load their children in parallel by setting startStopThreads=0:


The number of threads that will be started by the <Engine/> and <Host/> containers will then be the same as the amount of CPUs on your computer, as in:


With this change I gained another 2 seconds.

All in all, a big win!

With all these tweaks in place, I reduced the Tomcat startup time significantly from over 50 seconds to under 10 seconds. I now have startup times at just under 9 seconds on average, a great improvement indeed 😃

A note on how I measured the startup times

Since startup times can naturally fluctuate depending on the load on the system, the CPU and memory available to the JVM booting Tomcat and so on, I timed each configuration setting five times, like so:

for el in {0..4}; do my-tomcat-wrapper restart; sleep 60; done

I then used the average of these 5 restarts, which gave a good enough estimate of the impact of my configuration change.

However, these tests have an important flaw: they don't consider files that the operationg system holds in its own caches and buffers. I didn't flush the operating system buffers and cache between each attempt, but if you want to do this all the way for your own benchmarking, you can perform the following between each change to the Tomcat configuration mentioned above:

$ free
# sync && echo 3 > /proc/sys/vm/drop_caches
# sync && echo 2 > /proc/sys/vm/drop_caches
# sync && echo 1 > /proc/sys/vm/drop_caches
$ free

You will then probably see less deviation between the the 5 start up times for each Tomcat configuration state.

Happy performance testing!

Of course, YMMV

It should be noted that your mileage will vary depending on your webapps.

For instance, where I could remove servlet 3 scanning completely because I've configured my webapps in such a way I don't need the automagic scanning by the app server, you would perhaps need to include some JARs in which you want such scanning to occur. The important point in such a case, is to only include the JARs where you actually have such servlets.

Further reading

I recommend this article on the Tomcat Wiki as well as the Tomcat system properties reference

Licensed under CC BY Creative Commons License ~ ✉ torstein.k.johansen @ gmail ~ 🐘 ~ 🐦 @torsteinkrause