Retries is a gem that provides a single function, with_retries, to evaluate a block with randomized, truncated, exponential backoff.

There are similar projects out there (see retry_block and retry_this, for example) but these will require you to implement the backoff scheme yourself. If you don't need randomized exponential backoff, you should check out those gems.


You can get the gem with gem install retries or simply add gem "retries" to your Gemfile if you're using bundler.


Suppose we have some task we are trying to perform: do_the_thing. This might be a call to a third-party API or a flaky service. Here's how you can try it three times before failing:

require "retries"
with_retries(:max_tries => 3) { do_the_thing }

The block is passed a single parameter, attempt_number, which is the number of attempts that have been made (starting at 1):

with_retries(:max_tries => 3) do |attempt_number|
  puts "Trying to do the thing: attempt #{attempt_number}"

Custom exceptions

By default with_retries rescues instances of StandardError. You'll likely want to make this more specific to your use case. You may provide an exception class or an array of classes:

with_retries(:max_tries => 3, :rescue => RestClient::Exception) { do_the_thing }
with_retries(:max_tries => 3, :rescue => [RestClient::Unauthorized, RestClient::RequestFailed]) do


with_retries allows you to pass a custom handler that will be called each time before the block is retried. The handler will be called with two arguments: exception (the rescued exception) and attempt_number (the number of attempts that have been made thus far).

handler = do |exception, attempt_number|
  puts "Handler saw a #{exception.class}; retry attempt #{attempt_number}"
with_retries(:max_tries => 5, :handler => handler, :rescue => [RuntimeError, ZeroDivisionError]) do |attempt|
  (1 / 0) if attempt == 3
  raise "hey!" if attempt < 5

This will print:

Handler saw a RuntimeError; retry attempt 1
Handler saw a RuntimeError; retry attempt 2
Handler saw a ZeroDivisionError; retry attempt 3
Handler saw a RuntimeError; retry attempt 4

Delay parameters

By default, with_retries will wait about a half second between the first and second attempts, and then the delay time will increase exponentially between attempts (but stay at no more than 1 second). The delays are perturbed randomly. You can control the parameters via the two options :base_sleep_seconds and :max_sleep_seconds. For instance, you can start the delay at 100ms and go up to a maximum of about 2 seconds:

with_retries(:max_tries => 10, :base_sleep_seconds => 0.1, :max_sleep_seconds => 2.0) { do_the_thing }


File tickets here on Github.


To run the tests: first clone the repo, then

$ bundle install
$ bundle exec rake test


  • Harry Robertson
  • Caleb Spare


Retries is released under the MIT License.