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CentreSource Blog:
PHP Session Lifetime - an Adventure
May 24, 2006 @ 17:49:15

From the CentreBlog today, there's an in-depth look at sessions as discovered by resolving a problem of prematurely expiring sessions on their apps.

It started about two weeks ago, with no discernable changes to our configuration that could be responsible. So to understand what was necessary to track down this problem, we have to explore a little bit about how PHP session data storage and expiration works.

They share some of their discoveries, including:

  • the session.save_path setting in the php.ini tells the scripts where the sessions go
  • garbage collection in PHP checks for sessions older than the session.gc_maxlifetime setting to remove
  • but sessions were still expiring too early
They finally started to Google for some answers and discovered that the problem wasn't in the default PHP configuration, the real issue was other software that overrode this php.ini value inside each execution. The result was that a script with the setting of 45 minutes would remove all sessions untouched for more than 45 minutes - regardless if they belonged to other software or not.

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