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Temporary Directories

The default temp directory
Setting a specific temp directory
The "work" directory
Persisting the temp directory

Jetty itself has no temporary directories, but you can assign a directory for each web application, into which the WAR is unpacked, JSPs compiled on-the-fly, etc. If you do not assign a specific temporary directory, Jetty will create one as needed when your web application starts. Whether you set the location of the temporary directory - or you let Jetty create one for you - you also have a choice to either keep or delete the temporary directory when the web application stops.

The default temp directory

By default, Jetty will create a temporary directory for each web application. The name of the directory will be of the form:


For example:


Where is the host address, 8080 is the port, test.war is the resourceBase, test is the context path (with / converted to _), any is the virtual host, and randomdigits are a string of digits guaranteed to be unique.

Once the temp directory is created, it is retrievable as the value (as a File) of the context attribute javax.servlet.context.tempdir.

The location of the temp directory

By default, jetty will create this directory inside the directory named by the System property. You can instruct Jetty to use a different parent directory by setting the context attribute org.eclipse.jetty.webapp.basetempdir to the name of the desired parent directory. The directory named by this attribute must exist and be writeable.

As usual with Jetty, you can either set this attribute in a context xml file, or you can do it in code. Here's an example of setting it in an xml file:

The equivalent in code is:

Setting a specific temp directory

To use a particular directory as the temporary directory you can do either:

call WebAppContext.setTempDirectory(String dir)

As usual with Jetty, you can do this with an xml file or directly in code. Here's an example of setting the temp directory in xml:

Here's an example of doing it with java code:

set the javax.servlet.context.tempdir context attribute

You should set this context attribute with the name of directory you want to use as the temp directory. Again, you can do this in xml:

Or in java:

Once a temporary directory has been created by either of these methods, a File instance for it is set as the value of the javax.servlet.context.tempdir attribute of the web application.


Be wary of setting an explicit temp directory if you are likely to change the jars in WEB-INF/lib between redeployments. There is a JVM bug concerning caching of jar contents:

The "work" directory

Mostly for backward compatibility, from jetty-9.1.1 onwards, it will be possible to create a directory named "work" in the ${jetty.base} directory. If such a directory is found, it is assumed you want to use it as the parent directory for all of the temporary directories of the webapps in that ${jetty.base}. Moreover, as has historically been the case, these temp directories inside the work directory are not cleaned up when jetty exists (or more correctly speaking, the temp dir corresponding to a context is not cleaned up when that context stops).

When a work directory is used, the algorithm for generating the name of the context-specific temp dirs omits the random digit string. This ensures the name of the dir remains consistent across context restarts.

Persisting the temp directory

Sometimes you may find it useful to keep the contents of the temporary directory between restarts of the web application. By default, Jetty will not persist the temp directory. To cause Jetty to keep it, use WebAppContext.setPersistTempDirectory(true).

Be aware that if you call setPersistTempDirectory(true), but let Jetty create a new temp directory each time (ie you do NOT set an explicit temp directory), then you will accumulate temp directories in your chosen temp directory location.

See an error or something missing? Contribute to this documentation at Github!(Generated: 2014-04-15T11:43:38-05:00)