How to Use PdoSessionHandler to Store Sessions in the Database

How to Use PdoSessionHandler to Store Sessions in the Database

Caution

There was a backwards-compatibility break in Symfony 2.6: the database schema changed slightly. See Symfony 2.6 Changes for details.

The default Symfony session storage writes the session information to files. Most medium to large websites use a database to store the session values instead of files, because databases are easier to use and scale in a multiple web server environment.

Symfony has a built-in solution for database session storage called PdoSessionHandler. To use it, you just need to change some parameters in the main configuration file:

  • YAML
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    # app/config/config.yml
    framework:
        session:
            # ...
            handler_id: session.handler.pdo
    
    services:
        session.handler.pdo:
            class:     Symfony\Component\HttpFoundation\Session\Storage\Handler\PdoSessionHandler
            public:    false
            arguments:
                - "mysql:dbname=mydatabase"
                - { db_username: myuser, db_password: mypassword }
    
  • XML
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    <!-- app/config/config.xml -->
    <framework:config>
        <framework:session handler-id="session.handler.pdo" cookie-lifetime="3600" auto-start="true"/>
    </framework:config>
    
    <services>
        <service id="session.handler.pdo" class="Symfony\Component\HttpFoundation\Session\Storage\Handler\PdoSessionHandler" public="false">
            <argument>mysql:dbname=mydatabase</agruement>
            <argument type="collection">
                <argument key="db_username">myuser</argument>
                <argument key="db_password">mypassword</argument>
            </argument>
        </service>
    </services>
    
  • PHP
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    // app/config/config.php
    use Symfony\Component\DependencyInjection\Definition;
    use Symfony\Component\DependencyInjection\Reference;
    
    $container->loadFromExtension('framework', array(
        ...,
        'session' => array(
            // ...,
            'handler_id' => 'session.handler.pdo',
        ),
    ));
    
    $storageDefinition = new Definition('Symfony\Component\HttpFoundation\Session\Storage\Handler\PdoSessionHandler', array(
        'mysql:dbname=mydatabase',
        array('db_username' => 'myuser', 'db_password' => 'mypassword')
    ));
    $container->setDefinition('session.handler.pdo', $storageDefinition);
    

Configuring the Table and Column Names

This will expect a sessions table with a number of different columns. The table name, and all of the column names, can be configured by passing a second array argument to PdoSessionHandler:

  • YAML
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    # app/config/config.yml
    services:
        # ...
        session.handler.pdo:
            class:     Symfony\Component\HttpFoundation\Session\Storage\Handler\PdoSessionHandler
            public:    false
            arguments:
                - "mysql:dbname=mydatabase"
                - { db_table: sessions, db_username: myuser, db_password: mypassword }
    
  • XML
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    <!-- app/config/config.xml -->
    <services>
        <service id="session.handler.pdo" class="Symfony\Component\HttpFoundation\Session\Storage\Handler\PdoSessionHandler" public="false">
            <argument>mysql:dbname=mydatabase</agruement>
            <argument type="collection">
                <argument key="db_table">sessions</argument>
                <argument key="db_username">myuser</argument>
                <argument key="db_password">mypassword</argument>
            </argument>
        </service>
    </services>
    
  • PHP
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    // app/config/config.php
    
    use Symfony\Component\DependencyInjection\Definition;
    // ...
    
    $storageDefinition = new Definition('Symfony\Component\HttpFoundation\Session\Storage\Handler\PdoSessionHandler', array(
        'mysql:dbname=mydatabase',
        array('db_table' => 'sessions', 'db_username' => 'myuser', 'db_password' => 'mypassword')
    ));
    $container->setDefinition('session.handler.pdo', $storageDefinition);
    

2.6The db_lifetime_col was introduced in Symfony 2.6. Prior to 2.6, this column did not exist.

These are parameters that you must configure:

db_table (default sessions):
The name of the session table in your database;
db_id_col (default sess_id):
The name of the id column in your session table (VARCHAR(128));
db_data_col (default sess_data):
The name of the value column in your session table (BLOB);
db_time_col (default sess_time):
The name of the time column in your session table (INTEGER);
db_lifetime_col (default sess_lifetime):
The name of the lifetime column in your session table (INTEGER).

Sharing your Database Connection Information

With the given configuration, the database connection settings are defined for the session storage connection only. This is OK when you use a separate database for the session data.

But if you'd like to store the session data in the same database as the rest of your project's data, you can use the connection settings from the parameters.yml file by referencing the database-related parameters defined there:

  • YAML
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    services:
        session.handler.pdo:
            class:     Symfony\Component\HttpFoundation\Session\Storage\Handler\PdoSessionHandler
            public:    false
            arguments:
                - "mysql:host=%database_host%;port=%database_port%;dbname=%database_name%"
                - { db_username: %database_user%, db_password: %database_password% }
    
  • XML
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    <service id="session.handler.pdo" class="Symfony\Component\HttpFoundation\Session\Storage\Handler\PdoSessionHandler" public="false">
        <argument>mysql:host=%database_host%;port=%database_port%;dbname=%database_name%</agruement>
        <argument type="collection">
            <argument key="db_username">%database_user%</argument>
            <argument key="db_password">%database_password%</argument>
        </argument>
    </service>
    
  • PHP
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    $storageDefinition = new Definition('Symfony\Component\HttpFoundation\Session\Storage\Handler\PdoSessionHandler', array(
        'mysql:host=%database_host%;port=%database_port%;dbname=%database_name%',
        array('db_username' => '%database_user%', 'db_password' => '%database_password%')
    ));
    

Preparing the Database to Store Sessions

Before storing sessions in the database, you must create the table that stores the information. The following sections contain some examples of the SQL statements you may use for your specific database engine.

If you use the PdoSessionHandler prior to Symfony 2.6 and upgrade, you'll need to make a few changes to your session table:

  • A new session lifetime (sess_lifetime by default) integer column needs to be added;
  • The data column (sess_data by default) needs to be changed to a BLOB type.

Check the SQL statements below for more details.

To keep the old (2.5 and earlier) functionality, change your class name to use LegacyPdoSessionHandler instead of PdoSessionHandler (the legacy class was added in Symfony 2.6.2).

MySQL

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CREATE TABLE `sessions` (
    `sess_id` VARBINARY(128) NOT NULL PRIMARY KEY,
    `sess_data` BLOB NOT NULL,
    `sess_time` INTEGER UNSIGNED NOT NULL,
    `sess_lifetime` MEDIUMINT NOT NULL
) COLLATE utf8_bin, ENGINE = InnoDB;

Note

A BLOB column type can only store up to 64 kb. If the data stored in a user's session exceeds this, an exception may be thrown or their session will be silently reset. Consider using a MEDIUMBLOB if you need more space.

PostgreSQL

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CREATE TABLE sessions (
    sess_id VARCHAR(128) NOT NULL PRIMARY KEY,
    sess_data BYTEA NOT NULL,
    sess_time INTEGER NOT NULL,
    sess_lifetime INTEGER NOT NULL
);

Microsoft SQL Server

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CREATE TABLE [dbo].[sessions](
    [sess_id] [nvarchar](255) NOT NULL,
    [sess_data] [ntext] NOT NULL,
    [sess_time] [int] NOT NULL,
    [sess_lifetime] [int] NOT NULL,
    PRIMARY KEY CLUSTERED(
        [sess_id] ASC
    ) WITH (
        PAD_INDEX  = OFF,
        STATISTICS_NORECOMPUTE  = OFF,
        IGNORE_DUP_KEY = OFF,
        ALLOW_ROW_LOCKS  = ON,
        ALLOW_PAGE_LOCKS  = ON
    ) ON [PRIMARY]
) ON [PRIMARY] TEXTIMAGE_ON [PRIMARY]

Caution

If the session data doesn't fit in the data column, it might get truncated by the database engine. To make matters worse, when the session data gets corrupted, PHP ignores the data without giving a warning.

If the application stores large amounts of session data, this problem can be solved by increasing the column size (use BLOB or even MEDIUMBLOB). When using MySQL as the database engine, you can also enable the strict SQL mode to get noticed when such an error happens.

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