How To Timeout In Php

When developing PHP applications, there are times when you want to limit the execution time of a script or a particular function. This can be helpful in ensuring that a long-running process does not consume excessive server resources or that a poorly written script does not indefinitely block other requests. In this blog post, we will discuss how to set a timeout in PHP using the set_time_limit function.

The set_time_limit function

The set_time_limit function allows you to set a time limit for the execution of a PHP script. When the specified time limit is reached, the script will be terminated. The syntax for the set_time_limit function is as follows:

set_time_limit(int $seconds);

The function takes one parameter, $seconds, which represents the maximum number of seconds the script is allowed to run. If the value is set to zero, the script will run indefinitely.

It is important to note that the set_time_limit function affects the entire script, not just the current function or block of code. If you want to set a timeout for a specific section of your code, you will need to do some additional calculations and checks using the time function.

Example Usage

Let’s say we have a PHP script that fetches data from an external API and processes it. The script should timeout after 10 seconds if the API does not respond in time. Here is a simple example of how to achieve this using the set_time_limit function:


There are some limitations to using the set_time_limit function:

  • The set_time_limit function only affects the current script. If your script is calling other scripts or includes other files, the timeouts set in those scripts will also affect the execution time of your script.
  • The set_time_limit function does not work in safe mode. In safe mode, the timeout value is set by the max_execution_time configuration option in the php.ini file.
  • The set_time_limit function does not affect certain system calls, such as sleep or file operations. For these operations, you will need to use operating system-specific timeout settings, such as stream_set_timeout or socket_set_timeout.


In this blog post, we have discussed how to set a timeout for your PHP script using the set_time_limit function. Knowing how to use this function can help you create more efficient and reliable PHP applications by ensuring that long-running processes do not consume excessive server resources or block other requests. Just be aware of its limitations and use it appropriately in your code.