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How the Login System Works Back to Directory
Last Review: 2017.06.10
Help Category: General Website

Summary: How does the login system work? How does Autologin work?

Instructions:
This help message tells you how the login system actually works, which is often the key to troubleshooting. Most common problem is users who accidentally set the privacy settings in their browser so it no longer returns cookies.

Why do we need cookies? The cookies is just a session number. But the server knows whether or not that session is logged in. The session variable only lasts 4 hours. Your browser temporarily stores that session number in one of it's "cookies". When you make your next request, the server gets the session number from your browser. (unless your browser refuses to send back the session number).

When you are logged in, any page it sends you back will show your login code (your email address) in green at the top of the page.

If you are having these problems, adjust the "Privacy" settings on your browser. Go into Tools..Internet Options..Privacy, and make sure it is set to "Medium".

AutoLogin
Note that the login screen gives you the option to "Autologin Next Time". If you check the [x] Autologin Next time box, the website sends your browser a special cookie containing your member Id. Your browser will send this cookie when you start your next session, and the server will automatically log you on. (As of 2017, this only partially works). The idea is to save you the trouble of logging on. Use this feature only on your own private machine, never on a public machine, or when demonstrating the site to someone! Basically, when you use set the Autologin cookies, your machine will be permanently logged on, every time you start it up. Many people don't ever bother to logoff their home computer. This is ok as long as its private. As of 2011, if you logoff, it will always erase the cookies. (there used to be an option). Be sure and Logoff any public machine, or if you loan your private machine to someone.

NOTE: Don't set the autoLogin cookies if using someone else's computer! Otherwise, you might forget to logoff, and the other person will keep logging on as yourself, and your login code will end up on the "suspect login" list.

Logoff
You can logoff from any page by clicking the green login code at the top of the page. This takes you to your member settings page, and at the top there is a logoff link. Alternately, you can go to the regular logon screen, and click the "Logoff" link at the bottom.

If you are having trouble, see also System forces me to login each new visit.