--connect-timeout [seconds] was added in curl 7.7 and has no short option version. The number of seconds for this option can (since 7.32.0) be specified using decimals, like
How long to allow something to take?
curl shipped with support for the -m option already from the start. That limits the total time a user allows the entire curl operation to spend.
However, if you’re about to do a large file transfer and you don’t know how fast the network will be so how do you know how long time to allow the operation to take? In a lot of of situations, you then end up basically adding a huge margin. Like:
This operation usually takes 10 minutes, but what if everything is super overloaded at the time, let’s allow it 120 minutes to complete.
Nothing really wrong with that, but sometimes you end up noticing that something in the network or the remote server just dropped the packets and the connection wouldn’t even complete the TCP handshake within the given time allowance.
If you want your shell script to loop and try again on errors, spending 120 minutes for every lap makes it a very slow operation. Maybe there’s a better way?
Introducing the connect timeout
To help combat this problem, the
--connect-timeout is a way to “stage” the timeout. This option sets the maximum time curl is allowed to spend on setting up the connection. That involves resolving the host name, connecting TCP and doing the TLS handshake. If curl hasn’t reached its “established connection” state before the connect timeout limit has been reached, the transfer will be aborted and an error is returned.
This way, you can for example allow the connect procedure to take no more than 21 seconds, but then allow the rest of the transfer to go on for a total of 120 minutes if the transfer just happens to be terribly slow.
curl --connect-timeout 21 --max-time 7200 https://example.com
You can even set the connection timeout to be less than a second (with the exception of some special builds that aren’t very common) with the use of decimals.
Require the connection to be established within 650 milliseconds:
curl --connect-timeout 0.650 https://example.com
Just note that DNS, TCP and the local network conditions etc at the moment you run this command line may vary greatly, so maybe restricting the connection time a lot will have the effect that it sometimes aborts a connection a little too easily. Just beware.
A connection that stalls
If you prefer a way to detect and abort transfers that stall after a while (but maybe long before the maximum timeout is reached), you might want to look into using –limit-speed.
Also, if a connection goes down to zero bytes/second for a period of time, as in it doesn’t send any data at all, and you still want your connection and transfer to survive that, you might want to make sure that you have your –keepalive-time set correctly.