How unique is the php session id? I got the impression from various things that I've read that I should not rely on two users never getting the same sessionid. Isn't it a GUID?

Solution 1

It's not very unique as shipped. In the default configuration it's the result of a hash of various things including the result of gettimeofday (which isn't terribly unique), but if you're worried, you should configure it to draw some entropy from /dev/urandom, like so

ini_set("session.entropy_file", "/dev/urandom");
ini_set("session.entropy_length", "512");

search for "php_session_create_id" in the code for the actual algorithm they're using.

Edited to add: There's a DFA random-number generator seeded by the pid, mixed with the time in usecs. It's not a firm uniqueness condition especially from a security perspective. Use the entropy config above.


As of PHP 5.4.0 session.entropy_file defaults to /dev/urandom or /dev/arandom if it is available. In PHP 5.3.0 this directive is left empty by default. PHP Manual

Solution 2

Session_id can indeed be duplicated, but the probability is very low. If you have a website with a fair traffic, it may happens once in you web site life, and will just annoy one user for one session.

This is not worth to care about unless you expect to build a very high traffic website or a service for the bank industry.

Solution 3

If you want to know how PHP generates a session ID by default check out the source code on Github. It is certainly not random and is based on a hash (default: md5) of these ingredients (see line 310 of code snippet):

  1. IP address of the client
  2. Current time
  3. PHP Linear Congruence Generator - a pseudo random number generator (PRNG)
  4. OS-specific random source - if the OS has a random source available (e.g. /dev/urandom)

If the OS has a random source available then strength of the generated ID for the purpose of being a session ID is high (/dev/urandom and other OS random sources are (usually) cryptographically secure PRNGs). If however it does not then it is satisfactory.

The goal with session identification generation is to:

  1. minimise the probability of generating two session IDs with the same value
  2. make it very challenging computationally to generate random keys and hit an in use one.

This is achieved by PHP's approach to session generation.

You cannot absolutely guarantee uniqueness, but the probabilities are so low of hitting the same hash twice that it is, generally speaking, not worth worrying about.

Solution 4

You can install an alternative hash generation function if you want to customise the way the ID is generated (it's a 128bit number generated via MD5 by default). See

For more information on PHP sessions, try this excellent article which also links to other articles about session fixation and hijack.

Solution 5

Size of session_id
Assume that seesion_id is uniformly distributed and has size=128 bits. Assume that every person on the planet logs in once a day with a persistent an new session for 1000 years.

num_sesion_ids  = 1000*365.25 *7*10**9 < 2**36
collission_prob < 1 - (1-1/2**82)**(2**36)   1 - e**-(1/2**46) 

So the the probability of one or more collision is less than one in 70 thousand billions. Hence the a 128-bit-size of the session_id should be big enough. As mentioned in other comments, the session_manager might also check that new session_id does not already exist.

Therefore the big question I think is whether the session_id:s are generated with good pseudo randomness. On that you can never be sure, but I would recommend using a well known, and frequently used standard solution for this purpose (as you probably already do).

Even if collisions are avoided due to checking, randomness and size of session_id is important, so that hackers can not, somehow do qualified guessing and find active session_id:s with large probability.

Solution 6

I have not found a confirmation on this but i believe php checks if a session id already exists before creating one with that id.

The session hijacking issue people are worried about is when someone finds out the session id of an active user. This can be prevented in many ways, for more info on that you can see this page on and this paper on session fixation

Solution 7

No, session id is not a GUID, but two users should not get the same session id as they are stored on the server side.

Solution 8

You could opt to store the various session on the DB along with a a DB generate unique field; merge the two and save it in a session variable, then check that one instead the session id.

Solution 9

I know this post is very old . Yet, I am adding my answer here since I couldn't find a pertinent solution to this question, Even after posting a similar question myself. I however got a clue from a reply to my post. For those who are interested the algorithm and solution is explained here. It uses a combination of session and a different cookie.

The algorithm in brief is like this

session handling will be done with custom class 'MySessionHandler' using DB

1.just prior to session_start, a cookie cookie_start_time is set to current time. life time of this cookie will be same as that of session. Both uses the variable $this->cookieLifeTime to set life time.

  1. in session _write we will set that value to db table field cookie_start_time same as $this->cookieStartTime

  2. in session _read we do a check

if($getRowsOfSession[0]['cookie_start_time'] != $this->cookieStartTime).

if it returns true, that means this is a duplicate session and the user is redirected to destroy the session and again redirected to start a new session.(2 redirections total)

Solution 10


<!DOCTYPE html>

<table border="2">
     $q2="select * from register where username = '".$_SESSION['username']."'";
     $run=mysqli_query($conn, $q2);

        <td><?php echo $name; ?></td>
        <td><?php echo $email; ?></td>
        <td><a href="edit.php"> Edit </a></td>
 <?php } ?>

if your username is different or unique you can use this code for session