Nginx, Tomcat, upstream sent too big header while reading response

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Nginx is our favorite web server currently as it is fast, lean and easy to configure. Performance is just outstanding and if you haven’t take a look at it.

One thing that I noticed while we deployed Nginx with Tomcat is that their default size for the buffers are very low. Don’t know why a 4K buffer size would be sufficient. If you keep it at their default size and might have a heavy duty Tomcat app then it could be that you will see error messages like:

upstream sent too big header while reading response header from upstream

The remedy for this error is to set the parameters for higher values for the proxy_buffer* parameters as we have done and now all is back to normal. Here are the current settings that worked well for us;

proxy_buffer_size   128k;
proxy_buffers   4 256k;
proxy_busy_buffers_size   256k;

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