How does urllib3 compare to other HTTP libraries like requests?

urllib3 and requests are both popular HTTP libraries in Python, but they have different design philosophies and features that may make one more suitable than the other depending on the use case.


  • Low-Level Library: urllib3 is considered a lower-level library compared to requests. It provides fine-grained control over almost every aspect of the HTTP request-response cycle.
  • Connection Pooling: It offers connection pooling, which means that it can reuse connections when making multiple requests to the same host, leading to performance improvements.
  • Thread Safety: urllib3 is thread-safe which allows you to safely make concurrent requests without running into issues like race conditions.
  • Retry Logic: It has built-in retry logic that can be configured to handle failed requests.
  • Manual Handling of Parameters: You need to manually encode URL parameters and form data, which can be error-prone for complex data structures.
  • Headers Management: Similarly, you have to manage headers, cookies, and other HTTP metadata manually.

Example usage of urllib3:

import urllib3

http = urllib3.PoolManager()
response = http.request('GET', '')



  • High-Level Library: requests is a high-level HTTP library that abstracts away much of the complexity involved in making HTTP requests, which makes it more user-friendly.
  • Pythonic: It has a simple, 'Pythonic' API that makes it easy to send HTTP requests. It's often preferred for its simplicity and ease of use.
  • Automatic Handling of Parameters: requests automatically encodes URL parameters and data, making it less error-prone and easier to work with.
  • Session Objects: While requests does not use connection pooling by default, you can use a Session object to persist certain parameters across requests and use connection pooling.
  • Built-in JSON Support: requests has built-in JSON support which makes it simple to work with JSON data.
  • Advanced Features: It supports more advanced features out of the box, like OAuth and streaming uploads.

Example usage of requests:

import requests

response = requests.get('')



  • Ease of Use: requests is generally considered easier to use, especially for beginners and for applications that do not need the granular control offered by urllib3.
  • Control: urllib3 offers more control and is suited for cases where you need to fine-tune the behavior of your HTTP requests.
  • Community and Documentation: requests has a very large community and excellent documentation, which can be a significant advantage.
  • Dependencies: requests is actually built on top of urllib3, but it bundles it in a way that abstracts most of its complexity. This means that requests has a dependency on urllib3, but it provides additional functionality.
  • Performance: Both libraries can be used in high-performance scenarios, but urllib3 might edge out in performance because of its low-level nature which avoids some overheads.


In summary, requests is a great choice if you want a simple, easy-to-use library that can handle most HTTP needs without much fuss. On the other hand, urllib3 is a good choice if you need more control over your HTTP interactions or if you are working in a context where you need to use a lower-level interface for performance reasons.

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