You can manage in-progress operations by using Go context.Context. A Context is a standard Go data value that can report whether the overall operation it represents has been cancelled and is no longer needed. By passing a context.Context across function calls and services in your application, those can stop working early and return an error when their processing is no longer needed. For more about Context, see Go Concurrency Patterns: Context.

For example, you might want to:

  • End long-running operations, including database operations that are taking too long to complete.
  • Propagate cancellation requests from elsewhere, such as when a client closes a connection.

Many APIs for Go developers include methods that take a Context argument, making it easier for you to use Context throughout your application.

Cancelling database operations after a timeout

You can use a Context to set a timeout or deadline after which an operation will be cancelled. To derive a Context with a timeout or deadline, call context.WithTimeout or context.WithDeadline.

Code in the following timeout example derives a Context and passes it into the sql.DB QueryContext method.

func QueryWithTimeout(ctx context.Context) {
	// Create a Context with a timeout.
	queryCtx, cancel := context.WithTimeout(ctx, 5*time.Second)
	defer cancel()

	// Pass the timeout Context with a query.
	rows, err := db.QueryContext(queryCtx, "SELECT * FROM album")
	if err != nil {
	defer rows.Close()

	// Handle returned rows.

When one context is derived from an outer context, as queryCtx is derived from ctx in this example, if the outer context is cancelled, then the derived context is automatically cancelled as well. For example, in HTTP servers, the http.Request.Context method returns a context associated with the request. That context is cancelled if the HTTP client disconnects or cancels the HTTP request (possible in HTTP/2). Passing an HTTP request’s context to QueryWithTimeout above would cause the database query to stop early either if the overall HTTP request was cancelled or if the query took more than five seconds.

Note: Always defer a call to the cancel function that's returned when you create a new Context with a timeout or deadline. This releases resources held by the new Context when the containing function exits. It also cancels queryCtx, but by the time the function returns, nothing should be using queryCtx anymore.