Friday, September 21, 2007

ASP.NET Tip: Persistent Logins Under ASP.NET 2.0


However, ASP.NET 2.0 has changed how the forms authentication tickets work. Simply using the same method with a True argument won't actually persist the cookie. If you want to have a significantly longer timeout for your forms authentication ticket, the code in this tip performs the same steps as the built-in FormsAuthentication methods but gives you more control over the specifics of how it works.

For starters, you'll need to add a block to your Web.config to enable FormsAuthentication:

<authentication mode="Forms">
<forms name="MyApplication" loginUrl="/login.aspx" />

If you want to switch into SSL mode for the login, you can specify the full URL, including the "https://" prefix in the loginUrl parameter. Also add an authorization section to lock down your entire site or virtual directory:

<deny users="?"/>

The code in your login form, after you've done your own validation to see if the user can log into your application, looks like this:

FormsAuthenticationTicket t =
new FormsAuthenticationTicket(1, userID,
DateTime.Now, DateTime.Now.AddMonths(3),
chkSave.Checked, userID.ToString(),

string encTicket = FormsAuthentication.Encrypt(t);

HttpCookie c = new HttpCookie(FormsAuthentication.FormsCookieName,

if (chkSave.Checked)
c.Expires = DateTime.Now.AddMonths(3);


In this example, the userID variable is the value that will be available if you look at User.Identity.Name after the user has logged in. On my page, chkSave is a check box that lets the user indicate whether or not to save the password. That true/false value is passed into the FormsAuthenticationTicket constructor to mark the ticket as persistent or not. After you get the ticket back, encrypt it and then put it into the designated cookie.

If the user has chosen to save the cookie, the cookie needs to be assigned an expiration date. In this case, I'm using three months as the expiration timeframe.


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