Graceful Shutdown

The purpose of this page is to give an overview of how to properly implement shutdown in asynchronous applications.

There are usually three parts to implementing graceful shutdown:

  • Figuring out when to shut down.
  • Telling every part of the program to shut down.
  • Waiting for other parts of the program to shut down.

The rest of this article will go through these parts. A real world implementation of the approach described here can be found in mini-redis, specifically the src/ and src/ files.

Figuring out when to shut down

This will of course depend on the application, but one very common shutdown criteria is when the application receives a signal from the operating system. This happens e.g. when you press ctrl+c in the terminal while the program is running. To detect this, Tokio provides a tokio::signal::ctrl_c function, which will sleep until such a signal is received. You might use it like this:

use tokio::signal;

async fn main() {
    // ... spawn application as separate task ...

    match signal::ctrl_c().await {
        Ok(()) => {},
        Err(err) => {
            eprintln!("Unable to listen for shutdown signal: {}", err);
            // we also shut down in case of error

    // send shutdown signal to application and wait

If you have multiple shutdown conditions, you can use an mpsc channel to send the shutdown signal to one place. You can then select on ctrl_c and the channel. For example:

use tokio::signal;
use tokio::sync::mpsc;

async fn main() {
    let (shutdown_send, mut shutdown_recv) = mpsc::unbounded_channel();

    // ... spawn application as separate task ...
    // application uses shutdown_send in case a shutdown was issued from inside
    // the application

    tokio::select! {
        _ = signal::ctrl_c() => {},
        _ = shutdown_recv.recv() => {},

    // send shutdown signal to application and wait

Telling things to shut down

When you want to tell one or more tasks to shut down, you can use Cancellation Tokens. These tokens allow you to notify tasks that they should terminate themselves in response to a cancellation request, making it easy to implement graceful shutdowns.

To share a CancellationToken between several tasks, you must clone it. This is due to the single ownership rule that requires that each value has a single owner. When cloning a token, you get another token that's indistinguishable from the original; if one is cancelled, then the other is also cancelled. You can make as many clones as you need, and when you call cancel on one of them, they're all cancelled.

Here are the steps to use CancellationToken in multiple tasks:

  1. First, create a new CancellationToken.
  2. Then, create a clone of the original CancellationToken by calling the clone method on the original token. This will create a new token that can be used by another task.
  3. Pass the original or cloned token to the tasks that should respond to cancellation requests.
  4. When you want to shut down the tasks gracefully, call the cancel method on the original or cloned token. Any task listening to the cancellation request on the original or cloned token will be notified to shut down.

Here is code snippet showcasing the above mentioned steps:

// Step 1: Create a new CancellationToken
let token = CancellationToken::new();

// Step 2: Clone the token for use in another task
let cloned_token = token.clone();

// Task 1 - Wait for token cancellation or a long time
let task1_handle = tokio::spawn(async move {
    tokio::select! {
        // Step 3: Using cloned token to listen to cancellation requests
        _ = cloned_token.cancelled() => {
            // The token was cancelled, task can shut down
        _ = tokio::time::sleep(std::time::Duration::from_secs(9999)) => {
            // Long work has completed

// Task 2 - Cancel the original token after a small delay
tokio::spawn(async move {

    // Step 4: Cancel the original or cloned token to notify other tasks about shutting down gracefully

// Wait for tasks to complete

With Cancellation Tokens, you don't have to shut down a task immediately when the token is cancelled. Instead, you can run a shutdown procedure before terminating the task, such as flushing data to a file or database, or sending a shutdown message on a connection.

Waiting for things to finish shutting down

Once you have told other tasks to shut down, you will need to wait for them to finish. One easy way to do so is to use a task tracker. A task tracker is a collection of tasks. The wait method of the task tracker gives you a future which resolves only after all of its contained futures have resolved and the task tracker has been closed.

The following example will spawn 10 tasks, then use a task tracker to wait for them to shut down.

use std::time::Duration;
use tokio::time::sleep;
use tokio_util::task::TaskTracker;

async fn main() {
    let tracker = TaskTracker::new();

    for i in 0..10 {

    // Once we spawned everything, we close the tracker.

    // Wait for everything to finish.

    println!("This is printed after all of the tasks.");

async fn some_operation(i: u64) {
    sleep(Duration::from_millis(100 * i)).await;
    println!("Task {} shutting down.", i);