This article will give you a very good understanding of session. In this article I have covered basic of session, different types of storing session object, Session behavior in web farm scenarios , Session on Load Balancer etc. I have also explained details of Session Behavior in a Live production environment. Hope you will enjoy this article and provide your valuable suggestion and feedback.
Stateless, which means a new instance of the web page class is re-created each time the page is posted to the server. As we all know
HTTP is a stateless protocol, it can’t hold the client information on page. If user inserts some information, and move to the next page, that data will be lost and user would not able to retrieve the information. So what we need? we need to store information. Session provides that facility to store information on
server memory. It can support any type of object to store along with our
custom object. For every client
Session data store separately, means session data is stored as per client basis. Have a look at the following diagram.
Fig : For every client session data store separately
State Management using session is one of the asp.net best features, because it is secure, transparent from users and we can store any kind of object with in it. Along with advantages, some times session can causes performance issue for heavy traffic sites because its stored on server memory and clients read data from the server itself. Now lets have a look at the advantages and disadvantages of using session in our web application.
Following are the basic advantages and disadvantages of using session. I have describe in details with each type of session at later point of time.
- It helps to maintain user states and data to all over the application.
- It can easily be implemented and we can store any kind of object.
- Stores every client data separately.
- Session is secure and transparent from user.
- Performance overhead in case of large volume of user, because of session data stored in server memory.
- Overhead involved in serializing and De-Serializing session Data. because In case of
SQLServer session mode we need to serialize the object before store.
Besides these, there are many advantages and disadvantages of session that are based of session Types. I have Discussed all of them.
Storing and Retrieving values in session are quite similar with
ViewState. We can interact with Session State with
System.Web.SessionState.HttpSessionState class, because this provides built in Session Object with Asp.Net Pages.
Following code is used for storing a value to session
//Storing UserName in Session
Session["UserName"] = txtUser.Text;
Now, let see how we can retrieve values from Session
//Check weather session variable null or not
if (Session["UserName"] != null)
//Retrieving UserName from Session
lblWelcome.Text = "Welcome : " + Session["UserName"];
//Do Something else
we can also store some other object in Session. Following Example shows how to store a
DataSet in session.
//Storing dataset on Session
Session["DataSet"] = _objDataSet;
and following code shows how we can retrieve that
dataset from the
//Check weather session variable null or not
if (Session["DataSet"] != null)
//Retrieving UserName from Session
DataSet _MyDs = (DataSet)Session["DataSet"];
//Do Something else
Ref & for more Information: Read Session Variable Section
120 bit identifier to track each session. This is secure enough and can’t be reverse engineered. When client communicate with server, only session id is transmitted, between them. When client request for data, ASP.NET looks on to session ID and retrieves corresponding data. This is done in following steps,
- Client hits web site and some information is stored in session.
- Server creates a unique session ID for that clients and stored in
Session State Provider .
- Again client request For some information with that unique session ID from Server.
- Server,looks on
Session Providers, and retrieve the serialized data from state server and type cast the object .
Just have a look on the pictorial flow,
Fig : Communication of Client, web server, and State Provider
Ref. & for more Information: SessionID in MSDN
In ASP.NET there are following session mode available,
For every session State, there is Session Provider. Following diagram will show you how they are related.
Fig : Session State Architecture
we can choose the session State Provider based on which session state we are selecting. When ASP.NET request for any information based on session ID, session state and its corresponding provider are responsible for sending the proper information based on user. Following tables show, the session mode along with there provider Name.
|Session State Mode
apart from that, there is another mode,
"Off". If we select this option the session will be disabled for the application. But our objective is to use session, so we will look into that four session State Mode.
Ref. & for more Information: Session State Providers
If we consider about session state, It means all the settings that you have made for your web application for maintaining the session. Session State, it self is a big thing, It says all about your session configuration, Either in web.config or from code behind. In web.config,
<SessionState> elements used for setting the configuration of session. Some of them are
Custom provider etc. I have discussed about each and ever section of connection string. Before I discussed Session Mode, just take a brief overview of Session Event
There are two types of session events available in asp.net
you can handle both this event in
global.asax file of your web application. When a new session initiate
session_start event raised and
Session_End event raised when a session is abandoned or expired.
void Session_Start(object sender, EventArgs e)
// Code that runs when a new session is started
void Session_End(object sender, EventArgs e)
// Code that runs when a session ends.
Ref. and for more Information : Application and Session Events
I have already discussed about the session mode in ASP.NET, Following are the different types of session modes available in ASP.Net.
If we set Session
web.config, Session will be disabled to all over the application. For this we need to configure web.config in following way
This is the default session mode in Asp.Net. Its stores session Information in
Current Application Domain. This is the best session mode which is based on web application Performance. But main disadvantage is that, It will lose the data if we restart the server. There are some more advantages and disadvantages of InProc session mode. I will come to those points again .
As I have already discussed InProc mode session data will be stored on the current application domain. So It is easily and quickly available.
So, InProc session mode store its session data in a
memory object on that
application domain. This is handled by
worker process in application pool. So If we restart the server we will lose the session data. If Client request for the data , state provide read the data from
In-Memory Object and return it to the client. In
web.config we have to mention Session mode and also we have to set the
This Session TimeOut Setting keeps session alive for 30 minute. This can be configurable from Code behind too.
There are two type of session events available in asp.net
Session_End. It is the only mode that supports the
Session_End() event. These events will call after the session timeout period is over. The general flow for the InProc Session State is some thing like this.
Now, when the
Session_End() will call that depends on Session Time Out. This is a very fast mechanism because no serialization occurs for storing and retrieving data, and data are staying inside the same application domain.
InProc is the default session mode. It can be very helpful for a
small web sites and where the number of
user are very less, We should avoid InProc in case of
Web Garden (I will come to this topic in details) Scenario .
- It store Session data in memory object of current application domain. So accessing data is very fast and data is easily available.
- There is not requirements of
serialization to store data in InProc Session Mode.
- Implementation is very easy, just similar to using View State.
although InProc Session is fastest, common and default mechanism, It has lots of limitation.
- If the worker Process or application domain recycles all session data will be lost.
- Though its fastest, but more session data and more users can affects performance, because of memory.
- we can’t use it in
web Garden scenarios .
- This session mode is not suitable for
web farm scenarios also.
So as per above discussion, we can conclude InProc is very fast session storing mechanism but suitable for small web application. InProc Session Data will get lost if we Restart the server, application domain recycles It is also not suitable for Web Farm and Web Garden Scenarios.
Now have a look that what are the other option available to overcome these problem. First Come to StateServer Mode.
This is also called
Out-Proc session mode. StateServer uses a stand-alone
Windows Services, which is Independent to IIS and can also run on a separate server. This session state is totally managed by
aspnet_state.exe. This server may runs on the same system, but it’s out side of that main application domain where your web application is running. This allow if you restart your asp.net process restarted your session data will be alive. This approaches has several disadvantages due to the overhead of
serialization and de-serialization, its also increases the cost of data access because of every time when user retrieves session data, our application hits a different process.
StateServer the Session data is stored in a separate Server which is Independent to IIS and Its handled by
aspnet_state.exe. This process is run as windows Services. you can start this service from
windows MMC or from
By default “
Startup Type” of ASP.NET state service is set to manual, we have to set it as “
Automatic” startup type.
from command from just typing
"net start aspnet_state". By default this services listen
TCP Port 42424 , but we can change the port from registry editor as given in below picture .
Now have a look on the web.config configuration for StateServer Setting. For State Server Setting we need have to specify the
stateConnectionString. This will identify the system that is running state server. By default
stateConnectionString used ip as 127.0.0.1 (localhost) and Port 42424.
When we are using StateServer, we can configure
stateNetworkTimeOut attributes to specify the maximum number of seconds to wait for the service to respond
before canceling the request. Default time is 10 seconds.
For using StateServer, the object which we are going to store that should be serialized and at the time of retrieving we need to De-Serialize. I have described it with an Example.
We used StateServer Session Mode to avoid unnecessary session data loss during restart of web Server. StateServer is maintained by process
aspnet_state.exe as a
windows Services. This process maintains the all the session data. But need to serialize the data before storing it in StateServer Session Mode.
As shown in above figure, that client request to the web server, then web server stores the session data on state server. StateServer may be the current system or may be the different system. But it is
totally independent of IIS. Destination of StateServer will depend on the web.config
stateConnectionString attribute settings. If we set it as 127.0.0.1:42424, It will store data on that local system itself. For change the StateServer destination, we need to change the IP. and make sure,
aspnet_state.exe is up and running on that system. other wise you will get the following exception while trying to store data on session.
When we are storing any object on session, that should be serialized. That data will be stored to StateServer system using State Provider. and at the time of retrieving the data, State provider will return the data. The complete flow is given in the below picture.
Here is one simple example of using StateServer Session mode. I have created this sample web application directly on the IIS so that we can easily understand its usage.
Step 1 :
Open Visual Studio >
Web Sites . Choose Location as HTTP and create the web application .
Now if you open the IIS you will see a
Virtual Directory created with the name of your web application , as in my case it is StateServer.
Step 2 : Create s simple UI that will take Roll No and Name of a student . We will store the name and roll in a state server session. I have also create one same class “
StudentInfo" . This class is given below
public class StudentInfo
/// Create object of student Class
/// <param name="intRoll">Int RollNumber</param>
/// <param name="strName">String Name</param>
public StudentInfo(int intRoll, string strName)
this.Roll = intRoll;
this.Name = strName;
private int intRoll;
private string strName;
public int Roll
intRoll = value;
public string Name
strName = value;
Now , have a look on the code behind code. I have just added two button one for
storing session and another for
protected void btnSubmit_Click(object sender, EventArgs e)
StudentInfo _objStudentInfo = new StudentInfo(Int32.Parse( txtRoll.Text) ,txtUserName.Text);
Session["objStudentInfo"] = _objStudentInfo;
protected void btnRestore_Click(object sender, EventArgs e)
StudentInfo _objStudentInfo = (StudentInfo) Session["objStudentInfo"];
txtRoll.Text = _objStudentInfo.Roll.ToString();
txtUserName.Text = _objStudentInfo.Name;
Step 3 : Please Configure your web.config for state server. As I have already discussed. And Please make sure
aspnet_state.exe is up and running on that configured server.
Step 4 : Run the Application
Enter the data, Click on
Now there are following Test that I have made which will totally clear your doubts that how exactly StateServer is useful.
First :Remove the [
Serializable ] key word from the
studentinfo class and try to run the application. When you will click on Submit Button you will get following error
Which clearly says that you should have to serialize the object before store.
Second: Run the Application, Store data by clicking on Submit Button
. Restart IIS
Now, In case of
InProc, you have already lost your session data, But Its
StateServer, Click on Restore Session, You will get your original data. Because State server data does not depend on IIS. Its keeps it separately.
Third : Stop the
aspnet_state.exe from the Windows Services MMC and Submit the Data. You will get following error,
Because your State Server Process is not running.
So, Please keep in mind about those three points .
So based on the above discussion
- Its keeps the data separate from IIS so, any Issue with IIS does not hamper Session data.
- It is useful in web farm and web garden scenarios.
- Process is slow due to Serialization and De-Serialization
- State Server always need to be up and running.
Now, I am stopping here on StateServer, You will find some more interesting points on Load balancer, Web Farm, Web Garden Section.
for more Information:
This session mode provide us more
reliable Session management in asp.net. In this session mode, the Session data is
serialized and stored in the SQL Server database. Main disadvantages of this session storage methods is
overhead related with Data Serialization and De-Serialization. It is the best option for using in the
To setup SQL Server we need to take help of two sql Script.
- For Installing:
- For Un-Installing:
The most easiest way to configure SQL Server, is using
I have explained the detailed use of these file in configuration section. This is the most useful state management in the web farm scenario.
- SQL Server Session mode is more reliable and secure session state management.
- Its keeps data in a centralized location (database).
- We should use SQL server session mode when we need to implement Session with some more security.
- If there happens to be frequent server Restart we can implement SQL server.
- This is perfect mode that fits in web farm and web garden scenarios (I have explained in details later) .
- we can use SQL server Session mode when we need to share session between two different application .
In SQL Server Session mode, we are storing session data in a SQL Server, so we need to first provide the database connection string in web.config .
sqlConnectionString attribute is used to provide the connection string in web.config.
After setup the connection string we need to configure the SQL Server. I am explaining how to configure your your SQL server using
Step 1: From Command prompt, Go to your Framework Version Directory
Step 2 : Run
aspnet_regsql command with following parameters
Have a look on the parameter and there uses
|Add support for SQLServer mode session state.
|P is stands for Persisted. Its persist the session data on server
|Specify Server Name
|Specify User Name
After run you will get the following message,
that’s all .
Step 3 : Open SQL Server Management Studio, Check, A new database ASPState has been created and there should be two tables,
Now, Just change the configuration string of the State Server Example and Run the same application that I have explained in State Server.
Just store Roll and User Name and Click on Submit button, and open
ASPStateTempSessions Table from SQL Server Management Studio.. WoW… here is your session data,
Now. do the following Test that I have already explained in State Server Mode.
- Remove The Serialize Key word from StydentInfo Class
- Reset IIS and Click on Restore Session
- Stop the SQL Server Services
I think I have explained the SQL Server Session mode well.
- Session data do not affected if we restart the IIS.
- It is the most reliable and secure session management.
- It keeps data located centrally , It can be easily accessible from other application.
- It is very useful in web farm and web garden scenarios.
- Processing is very slow in nature.
- Object serialization and de-serialization creates overhead for application.
- As the session data is handled in different server, so we have to take care of SQL server. It should be always up and running.
for more Information : Read SQL Server Mode
Generally we use either of InProc, StateServer or SQL Server Session mode for our application, but we also need to know the fundamental of Custom Session mode. This session mode is quite interesting, because Custom session gives full control to us to create every thing even session ID. you can write your own algorithm to generate session ID.
You can implement custom providers that store session data in other storage mechanisms simply by deriving from
SessionStateStoreProviderBase Class. You can also Generate New Session Id by Implementing
This are the following methods are called during implementation of Custom Session
In Initialize methods we can set the Custom Provider. This will initialize the connection with that specified provider.
SetItemExpireCallback used to set
SessionTimeOut, we can register any methods that will call at the time of session expire.
InitializeRequest is called on every request and
CreateNewStoreData used to create a new instance of
we can use custom session mode in following of the cases,
- We want to store session data rather than SQL Server.
- When we have to use some Existing table to store session data.
- When we need to create our own session ID.
We need to configure our
config like below,
If you want to Explore some thing more please Check Further study section
- We can use some existing Table for the store session data, It is useful when we have to use some old database rather than SQL Server.
- It’s not depending on IIS , So Restarting web server does not make any effects on session data.
- We can crate our own algorithm for generating Session ID.
- Processing of Data is very slow.
- Creating a custom state provider is a low-level task that needs to be handled carefully to ensure security.
Its always recommended to use any third party provider rather than creating your own.
Ref and More Information : Custom Mode
If you want to
know more about details
session Mode please Read this MSDN Article
Generally Production environments means when we deploy the application on our live production server. This is a major and Big Challenge for the web developer to deploy there application on Live Server. because in a Big production environment there are no of user and its not possible to handle the load of so many users by a single server. Here the concepts came of
Load Balancer ,
Web Garden etc.
Just few month back I have deployed one of our web application In a live production environment which is accessible by million of user and there were more than 10 Active Directory, more than 10 Web Server Over Load Balancer and Many DB Server, Exchange Server, LCS Server etc. If we look at the number of web server, this is multiple. The major risk involves in multiple server is Session Management. Following picture shows the general diagram for a Production environments.
I will try to explain the different scenario that you need to keep in mind while deploying your application.
This is one of the most important thing that you should create for your own application in Production environment. Application pools used to separate sets of
IIS worker processes that share the same configuration. Application pools enable us to isolate our web application for better security, reliability, and availability. The worker process serves as the process boundary that separates each application pool so that
when one worker process or application is having an issue or recycles, other applications or worker processes are not affected.
Application pool identity configuration is an important aspect of security in IIS 6.0 and IIS 7.0, because it determines the identity of the worker process when the process is accessing resource. This Settings comes from IIS 6.0 In IIS 7.0 there are Three predefine Identity , that are same with IIS 6.0.
|LocalSystem is a built-in account that has administrative privileges on the server. It can access both local and remote resources. For any kind accessing of server files or resources we have to set the Identity of application pool to Local System.
|LocalServices Built-in account has privileges of an authenticated local user account. It does not have any network access permission
|This is the default Identity of Application Pool NetworkServices has privileges of authenticated local user account.
Open IIS Console, Right Click on
Application Pool Folder >
Application Pool ID and Click
Now, Right Click on the Virtual Directory (I am using StateServer Web sites) and assign the
StateServerAppPool to StateServer Virtual Directory.
So, this StateServer Web sites will run independently with
StateServerAppPool. So any problem related with other application does not affects your Application. This is the main advantages of creating application pool separately.
By default Each Application Pool runs with a Single Worker Process (
exe). We can Assign multiple Worker Process With a Single Application Pool. An Application Poll with
multiple Worker process called Web Gardens. Many worker processes with same Application Pool can sometimes provide better throughput performance and application response time. And Each Worker Process Should have
there own Thread and Own Memory space.
As Given in Picture, in IIS Server there may be multiple
Applicationpool and each application pool having at least a single Worker Process. Web
Garden should contain multiple Worker process.
There are some Certain Restriction to use Web Garden with your web application. If we use Session Mode to
"in proc", our application will not work correctly because session will be handled by different Worker Process. For Avoid this Type of problem we should have to use Session Mode “
out proc" and we can use “
Session State Server” or “
SQL-Server Session State“.
Main Advantage : The worker processes in a Web garden share the requests that arrive for that particular application pool. If a worker process fails, another worker process can continue to process requests.
Right Click on the
Application Pool >
Go To Performance Tab >
Check Web Garden Section (Highlighted in Picture )
By default it would be 1 , Just change it to more than one .
I have already discuss that, InProc is handled by
Worker Process. Its keeps data insides its memory object. Now If we have multiple Worker Process, then It would be very difficult to handled the session . because, Each and every Worker process has it own memory, so If my first request goes to WP1 and its keep my session data and Second Request goes to WP2 and I am trying to retrieve session data, it will not able to return . Which will throw error. So please avoid Web Garden in InProc Session Mode.
we can use StateServer or SQLServer Session mode in case of Web Garden , because I have already explained these two session mode does not depends on Worker Process . In my example, I have also explain, If you restart the IIS then also you are able to get session data.
In Short ,
This is the most common term that is used in production deployment . This terms comes, when we are using Multiple Web Server for deploying our product. The main reason behind the scene is to distribute the load over the multiple server. Load balancer is used to distribute the load on those server.
If we check the diagram, Client request the url and it will hit a Load Balancer, which decides which server to access. Load balancer will distribute the traffic over the all web server.
Now how does it affects session
Handling session is one of the most challenging job in web farm .
InProc : In InProc session mode, session data stored in In-Memory Object of worker process. So each and every server have its own Worker process and they keep session data inside the memory.
If One server is down in time and request come to different server, user is not able to get session data. So, it is not recommended to use InProc in Web Farm .
StateServer :I have already explained that what a state server is, how to configure a StateServer etc. Now From this Web farm scenarios you can easily understand that how much it is important, because all session data will be stored in a Single location .
Remember, In a web farm, make sure you have the same
<machinekey> in all your web servers. and Other things are all same as I have describe earlier. All web.config having the same configuration (
stateConnectionString) for Session State.
SQL Server : This is another approach even best one that we can use in web farm. We need to configure the data base first. The steps I have already covered .
as shown in the above picture, all web server session data will be stored in a single SQL Server Database. And it can be easily accessible. Keep one thing in mind, you should serialize object in both state server and SQL Server mode. Any time if one of the web server goes down, Load balancer distribute the loads to other server and that user can able to read session data from server, because data is stored in a centralized DB server.
In summary, we can use either of state server or SQL server session mode in web farm . We should avoid the InProc
Using cookies: ASP.NET creates a special cookies named
NET_SessionId automatically when the session collection is used. This is the default. Session ID is transmitted through that cookies .
Cookie Munging : Some older browser doest not support cookies or user may disable cookies in there browser, in that case ASP.Net transmitted session ID in a specially modified (or “
When user request for a page on a server, Server encoded the session id and add it with every
href link in page. When user click any links ASP.NET decodes that session id and passes it to the page that user requesting. Now the requesting page can retrieve any session variable. This all happens automatically, if
NET detects that the users browser does not support cookies.
For that we have to make session state Cookie less.
Following are the list of methods that are used to removing the session .
|Remove an Item from Session State Collection
|Remove all items from session collection
|Remove all items from session collection Note: There is no difference between Clear and RemoveAll. RemoveAll() calls Clear(), internally.
|Cancels the Current Session
For performance optimization we can enable or disable session. because each and every page read and write access of the page, and this involves some performance overhead. So its always better to enable and disable session based on requirements rather than make it enable always. we can enable and disable the session State in two ways:
Page Level :
we can disable session state in page level using
EnableSessionState attributes with in Page directive.
This will disable the session activities for that particular page
Same way we can make it read only also , It will permit to access session data, but it will not allow writing data on session.
Application Level :
Session state can be disabled for all over the web application using
EnableSessionState property in
Generally we are use Page level, because some of page may not require any session data or may be only read the session data.
How To Disable ASP.Net Session State in ASP.NET
Ref. & for more Information :
Now hope you are familiar with Session, Use of it, how to apply it in web farms etc in ASP.NET 2.0. So as a summary,
In-Process(InProc) Session provider is the fastest method, because of everything stored inside the memory. Session data will be loss if we restart web server or if Worker Process Recycles. You can use in small web application where number of users are less. Do not use InProc in Web Farm.
StateServer Session modes Session data maintain by aspnet_state.exe. Its keeps session data out of Web server. So any issue with web server does not affect session data. You need to Serialized object before storing data in StateServer Session. we can use it in web farm also.
SQLServer Session modes store data in SQL Server, we need to provide the connection string. Here we also need to serialize the data before storing it to session. This is very useful in production environment with web farm mode.
- we can use
Custom provider for custom data source or when we need to use some existing table to store session data. We can also create our custom sessionID in Custom mode. But it is not recommended to create your own custom provider. Its recommended to use any third party provider.