Retrofit 2 — Check Response Origin (Network, Cache, or Both)

In the first Retrofit caching tutorial we've given you an overview on how caching works and what steps are necessary to enable it for Retrofit. We've skipped one important information: how can you detect whether a response came from the cache, the server, or even both?

In this tutorial, you'll learn the answer to this question.

Retrofit Series Overview

  1. Introduction to Call Adapters (Coming soon)
  2. Custom Call Adapter to Separate OnResponse Callback (Coming soon)
  3. How to Integrate RxJava 1.x Call Adapter (Coming soon)
  4. How to Integrate RxJava 2.x Call Adapter (Coming soon)
  5. How to Integrate Guava Call Adapter (Coming soon)
  6. Custom Call Adapter to Separate Network and Gson Errors (Coming soon)
  1. Callbacks (Coming soon)
  2. Annotations (Coming soon)
  3. Fluent Interface with Builders (Coming soon)

Check Response Origin

It can be interesting to know whether a response came from the server or from the cache. Not only when building apps with offline functionality, where all responses are cached for times without Internet connection, but also for the regular use of saving bandwidth and time. In either case, Retrofit does not give you a direct answer. You've to figure out the origin by combining some clues.

Indirect Check with Raw Response

In general, your async Retrofit call will look like this:

Call<ResponseBody> call = //...  
call.enqueue(new Callback<ResponseBody>() {  
    public void onResponse(Call<ResponseBody> call, Response<ResponseBody> response) {
        // success, server (or cache) responded

    public void onFailure(Call<ResponseBody> call, Throwable t) {
        // failure, no network connection or conversion threw error

When the network request was a success, you've access to the response object. This is Retrofit's Response class, which won't reveal any information relevant to caching. However, you can go down a level by calling response.raw(), which gives you the network layers OkHttp's response object.

OkHttp's response object gives you two helper methods to analze the caching situation of the request: cacheResponse() and networkResponse().

if (response.raw().cacheResponse() != null) {  
    // true: response was served from cache

if (response.raw().networkResponse() != null) {  
    // true: response was served from network/server

The functionality should be obvious, if cacheResponse() is not null, the response came from the cache. If networkResponse() is not null, the response came from the server.

You might ask, couldn't I've done this in a single if-else case? No, because both methods can return true! This happens when Retrofit and OkHttp made a conditional request. That means the cached version wasn't guaranteed to be valid anymore, but the server responded with a 304 - Not Modified header, which indicates that the cached version is still valid. Thus, the resource content came from cache, but the headers came from the server.

You can use the information whether the resource came from cache to further enhance your app's user experience.


In this tutorial you've learned how to check if a response came from the server or from OkHttp's cache. Depending on your use case, it might be beneficial to the user to know whether the data is completely up-to-date or just a cached version.

Do you have further questions on this topic or about Retrofit in general? Just let us know on Twitter @futurestud_io or leave a comment below.

Enjoy coding & make it rock!

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