WordPress Native PHP Sessions

Description

WordPress core does not use PHP sessions, but sometimes they are required by your use-case, a plugin or theme.

This plugin implements PHP’s native session handlers, backed by the WordPress database. This allows plugins, themes, and custom code to safely use PHP $_SESSIONs in a distributed environment where PHP’s default tempfile storage just won’t work.

Note that primary development is on GitHub if you would like to contribute:

https://github.com/pantheon-systems/wp-native-php-sessions

Configuration

By default the session lifetime is set to 0, which is until the browser is closed.

To override this use the pantheon_session_expiration filter before the WordPress Native PHP Sessions plugin is loaded. For example a small Must-use plugin (a.k.a. mu-plugin) could contain:

<?php
function my_session_expiration_override() {
    return 60*60*4; // 4 hours
}
add_filter( 'pantheon_session_expiration', 'my_session_expiration_override' );<h3>Contributing</h3>

See CONTRIBUTING.md for information on contributing.

Troubleshooting

If you see an error like “Fatal error: session_start(): Failed to initialize storage module:” or “Warning: ini_set(): A session is active.”, then you likely have a plugin that is starting a session before WP Native PHP Sessions is loading.

To fix, create a new file at wp-content/mu-plugins/000-loader.php and include the following:

<?php
require_once WP_PLUGIN_DIR . '/wp-native-php-sessions/pantheon-sessions.php';

This mu-plugin will load WP Native PHP Sessions before all other plugins, while letting you still use the WordPress plugin updater to keep the plugin up-to-date.

Installation

  1. Upload to the /wp-content/plugins/ directory
  2. Activate the plugin through the ‘Plugins’ menu in WordPress

That’s it!

FAQ

Why not use another session plugin?

This implements the built-in PHP session handling functions, rather than introducing anything custom. That way you can use built-in language functions like the $_SESSION superglobal and session_start() in your code. Everything else will “just work”.

Why store them in the database?

PHP’s fallback default functionality is to allow sessions to be stored in a temporary file. This is what most code that invokes sessions uses by default, and in simple use-cases it works, which is why so many plugins do it.

However, if you intend to scale your application, local tempfiles are a dangerous choice. They are not shared between different instances of the application, producing erratic behavior that can be impossible to debug. By storing them in the database the state of the sessions is shared across all application instances.

Reviews

January 8, 2022
I did not have high hopes for this, looking for plugins to resolve the issue my site was having in Site Health and figured I might as well try this after running across it on Google. I installed it, and it fixed loopback requests and API issues in Site Health. I am very impressed!
May 15, 2021
I have no idea how this plugin even works. As I was going through the list of popular/recommended plugins, this one was way down on the list. I installed it on my test site and it didn't break anything, so I moved it into the production site. I use a plugin that lets me view the error log without having to open an FTP client. Since installing this plugin, I've had almost zero errors in the log. In fact, right now it has been more than 48 hours (pretty high traffic site) and not a single error has been added to the log. Again, I have no clue how this plugin works. I understand the plugin conceptually, else I'd have never installed it. But, the specifics I do not know. What I do know for certain is that there's a marked improvement by way of reduced errors. I think the site may even be more responsive - but it already operates with an A/A on the various page load/speed tests, so I can't measure any difference there. This is a site with more than 70 active plugins and maybe 200 visitors a day.
March 10, 2021
Native PHP Sessions is easily another plugin that should be standard for WordPress. And, support is excellent too.
August 5, 2020
Native PHP Sessions fixed all errors (curl errors) in my WP installation! Now wordpress shows no errors in the page status but "Top Job" 🙂 Thank you so much!
Read all 16 reviews

Contributors & Developers

“WordPress Native PHP Sessions” is open source software. The following people have contributed to this plugin.

Contributors

“WordPress Native PHP Sessions” has been translated into 3 locales. Thank you to the translators for their contributions.

Translate “WordPress Native PHP Sessions” into your language.

Interested in development?

Browse the code, check out the SVN repository, or subscribe to the development log by RSS.

Changelog

1.3.1 (December 5, 2022)

  • Document session lifetime handling [#224].
  • Make dependabot target develop branch [#226].
  • Ignore .wordpress-org directory [#223].

1.3.0 (November 28th, 2022)

  • Added CONTRIBUTING.MD and GitHub action to automate deployments to wp.org. [#219]

1.2.5 (October 28, 2022)

  • Added #[ReturnTypeWillChange] where required to silence deprecation warnings in PHP 8.1. [#216]

1.2.4 (September 14th, 2021)

  • Increases data blob size from 64k to 16M for new session tables; existing tables will need to manually modify the column if they want to apply this change [#193].

1.2.3 (April 9th, 2021)

  • Assigns the table name to a variable before using in query [#188].

1.2.2 (March 29th, 2021)

  • Includes an auto-incrementing id column for replication support [#187].

1.2.1 (September 17th, 2020)

  • Plugin textdomain needs to be the same as the WordPress.org slug [#169].

1.2.0 (May 18th, 2020)

  • Avoids using cookies for sessions when WP-CLI is executing [#154].

1.1.0 (April 23rd, 2020)

  • Avoids initializing PHP sessions when doing cron [#149].

1.0.0 (March 2nd, 2020)

  • Plugin is stable.

0.9.0 (October 14th, 2019)

  • Refactors session callback logic into Session_Handler abstraction, fixing PHP notice in PHP 7.3 [#135].

0.8.1 (August 19th, 2019)

  • Fixes handling of ‘X-Forwarded-For’ header in get_client_ip_server() [#126].

0.8.0 (August 13th, 2019)

  • Respects various HTTP_* sources for client IP address [#122].

0.7.0 (April 3rd, 2019)

  • Adds a safety check that restores $wpdb when it’s missing.

0.6.9 (May 15th, 2018)

  • Ensures _pantheon_session_destroy() uses a return value.

0.6.8 (May 4th, 2018)

  • Switches to E_USER_WARNING instead of E_WARNING when triggering errors.

0.6.7 (April 26th, 2018)

  • Disables plugin load when WP_INSTALLING, because session table creation breaks installation process.

0.6.6 (March 8th, 2018)

  • Restores session instantiation when WP-CLI is executing, because not doing so causes other problems.

0.6.5 (February 6th, 2018)

  • Disables session instantiation when defined( 'WP_CLI' ) && WP_CLI because sessions don’t work on CLI.

0.6.4 (October 10th, 2017)

  • Triggers PHP error when plugin fails to write session to database.

0.6.3 (September 29th, 2017)

  • Returns false when we entirely fail to generate a session.

0.6.2 (June 6th, 2017)

  • Syncs session user id when a user logs in and logs out.

0.6.1 (May 25th, 2017)

  • Bug fix: Prevents warning session_write_close() expects exactly 0 parameters, 1 given.

0.6.0 (November 23rd, 2016)

  • Bug fix: Prevents PHP fatal error in session_write_close() by running on WordPress’ shutdown action, before $wpdb destructs itself.
  • Bug fix: Stores the actual user id in the sessions table, instead of (bool) $user_id.

0.5

  • Compatibility with PHP 7.
  • Adds pantheon_session_expiration filter to modify session expiration value.

0.4

  • Adjustment to session_id() behavior for wider compatibility
  • Using superglobal for REQUEST_TIME as opposed to time()

0.3

  • Fixes issue related to WordPress plugin load order

0.1

  • Initial release