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Session Expired

Friday, December 22nd, 2006 by | Filed Under: Using The Internet
 
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Q:
Sometimes when I try to log in to some of my favorite Web sites, I get a “Session Expired” error message. What does this mean?

A:
That’s an excellent question. The “Session Expired” or the “Session Has Expired” error messages have been around for quite some time. They happen to come along whenever you’re visiting a Web site that is maintained mostly by a database, requires login information or is a secure Web page. So, if those are the types of sites you visit most often, you may see this problem frequently.

There are several reasons why this could be happening. Below is a list and an explanation of just a few of them. These are the most common though, so you should be able to figure something out from these suggestions. Here we go.

1.) Inactivity: If you log in to a Web site first thing in the morning, everything should be okay. Then, let’s say, you decide to go run some errands, but you still leave the Web site up on your computer. When you get back, you’re probably going to get a “Session Expired” message. If you leave the site inactive from anywhere between 10 and 30 minutes (depending on the site), the server will automatically time you out of the session.

This, of course, is done for security reasons and to help with the speed of the Web site. All you have to do when you receive that error message is start over and log in again. This will then create a new session for you and you’ll be good to go.

2.) Cookies: There are two items involved with this one that could cause your sessions to expire. First, if you happen to be browsing a site anonymously, your sessions may often fail. Secondly, some sites require the cookies to be enabled and if you don’t have them set that way in your Web browser, you may run into some problems. This one is luckily, easy to fix. All you need to do is enable your cookies.

To do this in Internet Explorer, go to Tools, Internet Options and click on the Privacy tab. Next, click on the Default button. This will set your cookies to the default state, which is right around the middle of the scale. You can see this by looking at the slide bar where each mark explains what every level does, in terms of the cookies on your browser. Click OK when you’re done. In Firefox, go to Tools, Options and click on the Privacy icon. Once there, checkmark the box that says “Allow sites to set cookies.” Click OK.

3.) Firewall: If you have a firewall set up on your computer, this could cause your sessions to time out before you want them to. Your firewall could be blocking certain sites, which in turn, prohibits any sessions from being established in the first place. Check your firewall settings and just make sure you’re allowing the sites you like to visit to come through. To learn more about setting up firewall settings, etc., read this tip.

4.) Date and Time Incorrect: It’s hard to tell why it happens, but sometimes, the date and time clock on several computers will be misconfigured and it’ll show the wrong information. If your clock is set to a wrong date (month or year) or even a wrong time, your computer will be confused and it may cause your sessions to fail. To check this, double click on the clock in your desktop toolbar. Change the time and date so it’s correct and click OK. Then go and try the site again. You should be up and running with no trouble now.

5.) Other Site Issues: This is for those of you who are only having trouble with one particular Web site. If you’ve tried all of the above suggestions and you’re still having problems, it’s possible that there could be other issues going on with that one site. It could be down for maintenance work or any other number of things. If you think this may be the case, contact the Webmaster or the company and see if they can tell you anything. They should be able to tell you if there’s something else wrong with the site or if it really is you. You could also just wait a day or two to see if the problem resolves itself. There are always other options!

Unfortunately, the “Session Expired” issue is something that lies within a Web site’s server, so there’s not really any special settings you can set on your own computer that will make this problem go away for good. Try all of the above options and at least one of them should take your expiration problems away!

~ Erin

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