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When you visit a website managed by Joomla 3.0, a session is started. Sessions help Joomla track specific information about specific users.


What are sessions?

Let's say that two people are sitting side by side in an office. Each user visits the same website at the same time, and that particular website is driven by Joomla 3.0. If one user logs in and another doesn't, how does Joomla keep track of this? Sessions. Because of sessions, Joomla can easily keep track of certain values for each unique visitor to the website.


What is session lifetime?

In this tutorial, we are focusing specifically on session lifetime. Session lifetime refers to how long an idle session is left open. The default value is 15 minutes. If you log into a Joomla 3.0 site and do nothing, after the default 15 minutes Joomla will no longer see you as a logged in user if you navigate to another page.

Joomla allows you to change the length of time that idle sessions stay open. This setting is referred to as Session Lifetime, and Joomla 3.0 gives the following description:

Session Lifetime:
Auto log out a User after they have been inactive for the entered number of minutes. Do not set too high.


To adjust the Session Lifetime in Joomla 3.0:

  1. Log into your Joomla 3.0 Administrator Control Panel
  2. In the left menu, click the link Global Configuration
  3. Within the list of tabs at the top of the page, click System.
  4. Towards the bottom of the page, under the Session Settings header you'll find the Session Lifetime setting. Make your desired changes, and then click the Save button in the top left of the page.

    The value you enter for Session Lifetime is in minutes. If you want to allow your users to stay logged in for up to one hour after being idle on your website, set the value to 60.

    Please note!
    This setting affects both session for the front end of your website and the backend.

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Continued Education in Course 205: Working with System Settings in Joomla 3
You are viewing Section 4: How to change the Session Lifetime in Joomla 3.1
Section 3: Understanding the Joomla 3.1 Debug Language setting
Section 5: A look at the Joomla 3.1 Session Handler Setting

Joomla Community Google+ Hangout #3

June 3rd, 2014

Thank you @RustyJoomla for letting me speak on the Joomla Community Google+ Hangout!

Click here to watch!

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n/a Points
2014-07-06 12:47 am

This is probably the wrong place for this comment, but I don't know where to put it. I'm having an issue with session lifetimes in Joomla 2.5. After searching for help, I found this article.

The problem is that I can't seem to change the session lifetime to anything except 15 minutes. If I change the number and click Save, there's a delay before the browser does anything visible (unusual), and then the page refreshes and it says 15 again. ???

I don't want to set it really high; maybe just 60 or so. But I can't change it.

Do you all have an article on this feature in Joomla 2.5?


9,968 Points
2014-07-06 6:24 am
Hello Jeff,

The steps are the same in Joomla 2.5 for changing the session time. It looks like when I do it in a test Joomla 2.5 install, it simply says Configuration successfully saved. after clicking Save.

I'd be curious why yours is any different. If you possibly have access to your website's access logs I would look at the requests that happened at the time you made the change. Here is what I saw in mine:

POST /joomla/administrator/index.php?option=com_config HTTP/1.1" 303
GET /joomla/administrator/index.php?option=com_config HTTP/1.1" 200

Also do you happen to have the Session handler set to None? I would assume this has to be set to Database in order to save the session value itself.

- Jacob
n/a Points
2014-07-11 4:17 pm

Hi Jacob! Thanks for answering.

Unfortunately I will need some help understanding what an access log is and how to find it. I will be happy to check with some help. I'm a paying InMotion customer so maybe someone on your end could do it more safely?

And my Session Handler is set to Database.

??? Thanks for your help.

9,968 Points
2014-07-11 6:32 pm
Hello Jeff,

The access log for your website is simply a log of all the requests that have happened to your site. You can access the raw access logs in cPanel in order to view them.

I tried to take a look at your Joomla site, but I was unable to access the Joomla admin dashboard using the typical login process.

If you'd like us to take a look into this issue for you, please provide the exact steps and credentials you're using to attempt to make the change. We will not make your comment public until removing any sensitive information from the post.

- Jacob
n/a Points
2014-07-14 6:46 pm

Yes, I would love to have someone else look at this for me because I am a little intimidated by "access logs". :-)

I think what you mean is that you couldn't find my administrator login URL? I don't mind giving it to you all because I trust InMotion... but I would rather not share it unless that's actually what you need. So you're saying... you need my admin login URL, admin username, and password?

42,519 Points
2014-07-14 8:23 pm
Hello Jeff,

As per Jacob's response, we would need your credentials in order to access your account. We cannot see the administrator or password for Joomla. So we would need that information in order to see what's happening. Posts are not public until they're approved, so if you send the information through a reply, we can remove it from the post and it will not show on our website.

Please provide the information and we can proceed.

Arnel C.
n/a Points
2014-07-15 6:48 pm


So after logging in I open Global Configuration, and click the System tab. Then, I try to change the Session Lifetime to anything other than 15. Really, I would just like it to be 60 (minutes). Then, the browser pauses for a long time (which is unusual) and then refreshes the page, and it says 15 again. ??? I appreciate your help.

42,519 Points
2014-07-16 2:52 am
Hello Jeff,

Apologies for the delay on this response. I was looking at earlier, then came back to it after something occurred to me. Although caching is disabled, its value should be the same (or greater) than the session lifetime. When I set it to be the same, the session lifetime change saved with no problems. I will see to updating this article after I confirm this for the version of Joomla that is referenced.

Thanks for your patience!
Arnel C.
n/a Points
2014-07-17 7:16 pm

Thanks very much, Arn, Jacob, and InMotion! You're the best hosts. Problem solved.

n/a Points
2014-04-14 5:46 am

Very helpful. It's really a nuisance having to log in after every 15 minutes or so. Normally, I change it 525600 minutes - practically impossible to go beyond that!

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