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Python’s sqlite3 context manager doesn’t close connections

The sqlite3.connect(…) context manager will hold connections open, so you need to remember to close it manually or write your own context manager.

I was working on an app that started failing in prod with an error “too many open files”, and I think it was because I wasn’t closing SQLite database connections properly.

In my case I was literally just creating the connection and never closing it:

import sqlite3

con = sqlite3.connect("example.db")
cur = con.cursor()

I think the con variable would eventually get garbage-collected, but obviously not fast enough!

I also found a blog post by Robin Wilson describing a similar issue, where the built-in context manager in sqlite3 doesn’t actually close the connection. It will commit any pending transactions, but holds the database open:

import sqlite3

with sqlite3.connect('test.db') as connection:
    # do some stuff in the database

# out of the context manager, database is still open

You have to explicitly close the connection yourself, e.g. writing your own context manager or using contextlib.closing. There are suggestions in the comments on Robin’s blog, and I know I’ve written a few before.