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Help us figure out a problem - repeated logins - 09/22/08

From: Email Guy
Subject:       Help us figure out a problem - repeated logins
Date: September 22, 2008 12:05 PM
Permalink   |   Post Comment

UPDATE - see solutions at bottom

In the past week or some some users are reporting that they are frequently prompted to log in again when using Web Mail. This is not a timeout, but happens immediately after starting a new session, when the user clicks on certain tasks.

What this probably means is that the session cookie that keeps you logged in is not being presented by the browser when it makes a request to the server. Sometimes this can be caused by security software running on your computer. Right now we don't know why several users are suddenly seeing this problem, but the most likely cause is that something changed in the browser or web security software that those users are running.

If this has happened to you, please provide the following information to help us pin down the cause. You can either post the information here, or send it directly to email-guy at earthlink dot net.

  • Does this happen only when performing certain tasks in Web Mail?
  • What is your exact browser version (Help / About)?
  • Have you done system upgrades recently, for example Windows SP3?
  • How are you connected to the Internet when the problem occurs?

  • What security software is running on your computer? Can you temporarily disable it or close it to see if the login problem goes away?

  • Do you have access to another computer where you can try and see if the problem does not occur while using your same account?

  • Does the problem occur on any other web sites that require you to log in?


Thanks for any information you can provide.


UPDATE
One user reports that Microsoft support was able to fix the problem for them. We don't yet have details of how they fixed it. We also know now that the problem is definitely that Internet Explorer is losing the session cookie that keeps you logged in to a web site, and the problem is apparently not something we can fix on the EarthLink side. But we don't yet have enough information to tell you how to fix it. Hopefully I'll have that soon.

My research shows that one thing which can definitely cause this problem is if you have your Internet Explorer home page set to open a local file on your computer and not set to a remote web site. A bug in IE will then cause it to lose session cookies from remote web sites.

Another user has some helpful information in the comments below.

More info soon....

UPDATE 2
Some users have discovered that resetting the Internet Explorer settings fixes this problem. Go to Tools / Internet Options, click the Security tab, click the "Default Level" button (Internet zone), then click on the Privacy tab, and click the Default button. Click OK. If that fails, do it again but click the Advanced tab, and then the button at the bottom that says Reset. That puts everything in IE back to its default state, and it definitely fixes the problem for all users who have tried it.

We're still trying to narrow this down further to a specific setting so that you don't have to do the reset, but this appears to work. Also, there is definitely more than one setting in the Security and Privacy sections that will prevent you from staying logged in to web sites, so it may not be the same specific setting for all users.

Please report if this works for you.

Discussion

Posted by: PeggyD   |   September 23, 2008 2:53 PM    |   (1)

I have only had this problem with web mail once and that was today. I have had this problem with three other online applications that require a login. One was my online banking site. The other two were shopping sites. I was able to circumvent the problem in all three cases by starting IE without add-ons enabled. (Start/Programs/Accessories/System Tools/Internet Explorer (No add-ons).

I am running IE 7.0.5730.11 and have recently installed SP3, which I suspect is the culprit. I connect to the internet via a wireless router and have Norton anti-virus protection. I have not tried to disable Norton to see if that helped the problem since disabling add-ons seemed to solve my problem. I have been successful using these sites on another computer that did not have SP3 installed.

This is helpful information. If you could try to pin down the particular add-on and let me know it would be great. Click Tools / Manage Add-Ons. That will show you all that are loaded. You can selectively disable one or more to see what is affecting the session cookies (that keep you logged in to online sites).

Email Guy


Posted by: C Kist   |   September 24, 2008 11:37 AM    |   (2)

Yes, I have been having this problem for some time. I didn't report it because I thought it was because of my changing Internet access from AT&T's all in one access program (t.v. and wireless Internet) to Verizon's access, and because I have recently relocated to a rural area where cell phones and Internet access are limited.
As your blog mentioned, I continually have to log in---lose connection, time out errors happen so many times that I get frustrated and finally, just disconnect altogether and use a computer elsewhere. I have noticed my laptop tends to have more of these time-out, dropped connection errors than other computers but right now, I only have the laptop up and running in my home office so there's no way to verify if the issue is specifically on my laptop.
In addition to the Earthlink protection, I have McAfee continually running as my security/virus protection.
Until recently, the issue was infrequent enough that I just dealt with it. Now it's a total nuisance. With Yahoo Mail, the issue is even worse. I log in, open my Inbox and the error message pops up and have to re-login. Sometimes, I don't even get to read one email message because the login, timed out or other error message continues shortly after logging in again. I DO get to read my Earthlink web mail with less frequent re-login issues but within a 30 minute session, I may have to log in 3-5 times. I am not very technically oriented. I'm not sure what Explorer version I have...will check and send that info later (assuming this blog will actually make it before I get my next error message! :) Oh, I don't seem to have the error messages, lose connection issue as much on regular web sites--mostly with email/web mail programs. I have Microsoft Office Small Business 2007 loaded on this laptop.
Thanks for ANY assistance.

Posted by: C Kist   |   September 24, 2008 11:41 AM    |   (3)

BTW I read the other post and I already have IE add-ons disabled. Thanks again.

Posted by: Shelley   |   September 25, 2008 7:37 AM    |   (4)

This problem is now affecting not only all aspects of webmail, deleting, sending, forward, etc. where I need to log in each time, I was trying to pay bills yesterday, and I can' do that either, when I try to submit, it sends me back to login on those sites too. I called to see if by chance the payment was submitted, and unfortunately it was not. Please help get to the bottom of this. My add ons are also disabled. I use Norton and scan each night. In the morning, I do get a "need to fix" for a tracking cookie with a low risk. Each day I have been fixing it. Today I thought I would leave it and see if it was the problem, No such luck, it is still happening. Please HELP...

Posted by: John   |   September 25, 2008 10:09 PM    |   (5)

I'm having this problem as well, and it's very annoying. My webmail from my office prompts me to re-login sometimes within a few seconds. I can almost no longer work at home. This didn't start until I downloaded and installed the latest XP update, which I believe was SP3.

Posted by: Larry Moore   |   September 27, 2008 4:17 PM    |   (6)

I had reset all items in Tools/Internet Options to "Default" and deleted temporary files without fixing my forced logout problem.
In the meantime, I switched my browser to Firefox 3.0.1 (3.0.3 as of today) and have no problems so far.
I looked for the IE7 Tools/Internet Options/Settings item for cache settings that you suggested in response to my Sept 17 post, but did not find it. Did you mean Tools/Internet Options/General/Browsing history/Settings/Check for newer versions of stored pages? Mine was set to "Automatically".
Today (Sept 27) as a last resort I did the Tools/Internet Options/Advanced/Reset. After many warnings, downloads of toolbars and reselection of add-ons, I'm about back to the previous IE setup (but with a slightly different look - e.g., newly downloaded Earthlink toolbar).
So far no kickout to Sign In. I tried other secure sights that had also kicked me out (with "No Cookie Found" errors) and they worked OK.
I'm going to stay with Firefox for my default browser for a while, but my IE7 problem seems to be finally fixed.
I recommend that others use the IE7 Tools/Internet Options/Advanced/Reset as a last resort. I'm sure novice users will be confused with the choices that have to be made to get back to a familiar looking browser (e.g., I lost my auto form fill-in function in a toolbar - I think it was in the Google toolbar that I lost).
Good luck to all. -Larry

Posted by: Lost   |   September 28, 2008 10:19 PM    |   (7)

Hello everyone,
Thanks for posting your comments. I am having the same problem and using Insight Broadband, so it doesn't look like this is a problem from EarthLink.

I'm glad (in a sad way) to see that others are having the same issue. Mine started a couple of weeks ago after I installed new McAfee software. I also have Windows set up to automatically update, so the timing may be coincidental. I get the message from Windows Internet Explorer "Session Timed Out. Log In Again". This is happening on every site that requires a password.

I've visited the Microsoft site and they don't have anything on it. I've tried disabling McAfee and it does not help (so they say it is not their problem). My ISP says that they don't have a problem. I am running IE 7.0.5730.13. I've tried reinstalling IE7, but that did not help.

I'm hopeful someone here can find out what is going on.

Posted by: Shelley   |   October 3, 2008 8:50 AM    |   (8)

I am still having the repeated login problem and have for several weeks now. I have tried all the fixes you have asked me to try. I have talked to tech support and they have not been able to help either. I have not seen anything on the blog that can help with this situation. This is very frustrating. Can someone help please, I am ready to change providers. I cannot work from home anymore. This is not acceptable. Please respond to this. Thank you.

This is a problem with your browser and it is going to occur on most web sites that requires you to log in, not just EarthLink. Changing providers won't help. The Reset instructions above should fix it.

Email Guy


Posted by: Carolyn Yackey   |   October 8, 2008 4:39 PM    |   (9)

I am having a problem because when I set up my password I incorrectly entered my email address as cmyack1@earthlink.com. I need help changing my email user ID from cmyack1@earthlink.com to cmyack1@earthlink.net and then reentering a new password.
Thank you.
Carolyn Yackey

If you have saved an incorrect entry in your browser's autocomplete feature (this isn't saved by Web Mail) then you can delete it. Just click in the entry box, press the down arrow on your keyboard to show all saved entries, scroll to highlight the one you want to remove, and then press the delete key. On Firefox you would use Shift-Delete. One of those will work on any browser.

You may also find this FAQ useful.

Email Guy


Posted by: Lost   |   October 17, 2008 3:57 PM    |   (10)

You've been very helpful on this problem and I thought I'd share the information that finally came from Microsoft. They FINALLY agreed to help me (they started off telling me that it was my problem and to look through their issue logs--they weren't interested in helping resolve it, but someone finally came to their senses and provided some insight which seems to be working). They seem to know they have a problem, but are keeping it under wraps. I think this is similar to what is posted above, but it might help anyway:


This step will help clear cookies, restore the security level back to the default settings, and disable third-party browser extensions. Before trying the steps, we can export the cookies so they can be easily restored later if you desire:

1. Press "Alt" from your keyboard, click "File", and click "Import and Export".
2. Click "Next", select "Export Cookies", and click "Next".
3. The file is saved by default to your “Documents? folder, click "OK".

If you would like to import the cookies after resolving the issue, please select “Import Cookies? in file menu to import the saved cookies file and choose the “cookies? file from your “Documents? folder.

For Internet Explorer 6.0:
------------------------
1. Click "Start", "Run", type: "inetcpl.cpl" (without quotations) and press "Enter".
2. Select the "General" tab, and in the Temporary Internet files window, click "Delete Cookies", and click "OK".
3. In the same tab click "Delete Files", check the "Delete all offline contents" box and click "OK".
4. Click the "Programs" tab, and click "Reset Web Settings".
5. Click the "Advanced" tab, and click "Restore Defaults".
6. Under the "Advanced" tab, uncheck "Enable third-party browser extensions" (requires restart).
7. Click "OK".

For more information, please refer to the following Microsoft Knowledge Base Article:
How to troubleshoot problems accessing secure Web pages with Internet Explorer 6 Service Pack 2
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/870700/en-us

For Internet Explorer 7.0:
------------------------
1. Please open Internet Explorer, click "Tools", and click "Internet Options".
2. Switch to the "Advanced" tab.
3. Refer to "Reset Internet Explorer Settings" section, and click "Reset".
4. Click "Close" when the resetting process is complete.
5. Uncheck the "Enable third-party browser extensions" option in the Browsing box.
6. Click "Apply", click "OK".

For more information, please refer to the following Microsoft Knowledge Base Article:

How to optimize or reset Internet Explorer 7
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/936213/en-us

Note: If you are using a higher security level or using third-party browser extensions, resetting you Internet Explorer settings will change them. After troubleshooting the issue you may restore these settings.

I'm only offering this as a passalong from Microsoft--not a guarantee that it will help! Good luck! And thanks for the postings!

Note to Shelley: Email Guy is correct. The problem is NOT Earthlink, it appears to be Microsoft Internet Explorer. Firefox is not having this problem (it has it's own issues).

Posted by: jflash101   |   November 10, 2008 3:41 PM    |   (11)

i have had this issue on other sites. The solution for me was to chage the last otion in zone settings:
user authetication
from - auto login with current user name and pasword
to setting is prompt for user name and password

this seems to have resolved the isue. The ie version i have seen this with is:
ie 7.0.5730.13
128 bit
update ver 0

Posted by: Wendy   |   July 17, 2009 10:34 AM    |   (12)

I have been having this problem since Aug/Sept of 08. I use Firefox 3.0.11, and I do NOT have this problem with Internet Explorer (version 7.0.5730.11)

* Does this happen only when performing certain tasks in Web Mail?
- Yes, this happens when I try to send mail or save to draft folder, or when sitting idle for longer than 5 minutes.
* What is your exact browser version (Help / About)?
- Firefox 3.0.11
* Have you done system upgrades recently, for example Windows SP3?
- I use Windows XP and install the updates when they come out.
* How are you connected to the Internet when the problem occurs?
- DSL

* What security software is running on your computer? Can you temporarily disable it or close it to see if the login problem goes away?
- I use AVG 8.9.32 and the add-on Adblock Plus (v. 1.1). I have disabled both, cleared all cookies, and still have the problem

* Do you have access to another computer where you can try and see if the problem does not occur while using your same account?
- I have another computer with the identical setup that has the same problem.

* Does the problem occur on any other web sites that require you to log in?
- No, this only happens to Earthlink Webmail.


I was told by Earthlink Support to clear my cookies and my cache and then restart my browser. This does not solve my problem.

Your update to this blog post says the problem is in Internet Explorer, however, I do not have this problem in Internet Explorer. My problem is with Firefox and have found no answers for this. In fact, one support tech told me simply to not use Firefox because Webmail works better with IE. I find that solution to be unhelpful as a provider like Earthlink should be accessible with a major browser like Firefox.

About a third of our users are using Firefox, and we absolutely test on all major browsers.

The problem you describe is not on the Web Mail side. I don't know why your browser won't keep the session cookie, but it is usually a security setting or external security software that will cause this.

The problem I described in the post above was specific to Internet Explorer, and is caused by a particular security setting in that browser, and it affects many web sites.

I'm sorry I couldn't be more help on this. Try disabling all FF add-ons and you may narrow it down. It could also be a firewall issue.

Email Guy


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