02 Oct Forgetful “Remember Me” at Login
Our website, like most others “remembers” things about users and usage by storing data in small packages called cookies. (Wikipedia reference here.) A cookie has a name (to tell one from another), a value (the data being “remembered”), and often, an expiration date. If an expiration date in the future is specified, the cookie is called a persistent cookie. If no expiration date is supplied, the cookie only lasts until the browser (or the tab containing the website that saved the cookie) is closed, and then the cookie is deleted immediately. These are called session cookies.
When someone logs in to the FHA website with “Remember Me” checked, the system tries to save a persistent cookie that indicates that the person is logged in. The expiration date is set for 60 days from the login date. After 60 days, a new login is required.
Whenever a page on the FHA website is requested by someone’s browser, The system checks the login cookie and determines when it was saved. If the cookie does not exist, or if the cookie was saved more than 60 days ago, the user is not automatically logged in, and must login to see any of the website’s “Resident-Only” content like the Bulletin Board or the Find People directory lookup. If the login cookie exists and is less than 60 days less old, the user is automatically logged in
Many conditions can interfere with this procedure by preventing our cookies from being saved or by saving them as session cookies rather than persistent cookies. Here are a few:
- The requesting browser (Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Internet Explorer, Safari, or others) have user (or user’s kids or user’s neighborhood go-to guy) controlled settings that can prevent cookies from being stored from all websites, or from just our website.
- Another setting prevents cookies from third parties from being saved (Apple calls this option “Allow cookies from sites I visit”). Third-party cookies are mostly behavior tracking cookies that are used to display ads to you. If you value your online privacy, this is a good option to choose for all your web surfing.
- Some browsers also have a setting to browse in “private” mode, which prevents any cookies from being stored.
- Many browsers allow users to install “add-ons” or “extensions” that provide greater control over cookies. These add-ons can forther restrict the conditions under which a website can save a cookie. For example, an add-on can remove the expiration date of a cookie and change it from a persistent to a session cookie.
The are probably other conditions related to cookies that will disrupt the logic of our “Remember me” check box. But examining cookie and privacy settings on a browser that “forgets to remember me” is a good place to start looking for cause of this apparent amnesia.
Thanks to Don Niedringhaus for the Apple information and for inspiring this article. If anyone has further information, especially about this problem on Apple devices, please post it on the Bulletin Board.