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Login issues on Source of Title
Slade Smith's Blog
November 15 2011

Recently, we've had a marked increase in site users who have had a particular and distinct problem while attempting to log into Source of Title.  Depending on how the user attempts to log into Source of Title, one of two things happen-- either the user is sent to the Source of Title home page or the login form will "blank out" and in both cases the user is not logged in. While I don't know the exact cause of the problem or why occurrences have increased lately, I do know some things about the problem... and solutions that appear to solve the problem for most users.

This problem is definitely related to browser cookies.  Our site uses the ASP.NET script language developed by Microsoft and uses a version of their proprietary login system which requires browser cookies to authenticate users.  Browser cookies enable a website to "remember" stuff... even when you turn off the computer.  In our case, we use a cookie that remembers that you are logged in to our site, and remembers that you are logged in even when you turn your computer off.

Sometimes you will come to the site and you will be logged out, even if you were logged in the last time you used the site.  This is because certain actions we take, such as rebooting our server or making changes to certain website files, causes all authentication cookies to be invalid.  I rebooted the server tonight, so everybody will be logged out when they visit the site in a few hours. 

For some reason which I do not understand, sometimes in these cases when users have to log in after their cookie has been invalidated, the user has he problem I described above.  The problem may only occur in Internet Explorer.

For the majority of users who have this problem, the issue can be solved by deleting their browser cookies, closing all browser windows, reopening a browser window, and attempting to log in.  Cookies can be deleted in most versions of Internet Explorer by choosing the "Tools" menu, then choosing "Internet Options".

A few users have reported that they have tried this solution and it has not worked for them.  Since I have not witnessed them apply the remedy, I can not eliminate user error as an explanation for this.  However, I do know that there are other situations where a user might not be able to log in.  These situations revolve around security measures implemented by Microsoft that can prevent cookies from being written to the browser by a site that is not "trusted".  Trust settings are found in most versions of Internet Explorer by selecting the Tools menu, selecting Internet Options, and choosing the "privacy" tab.  A user whose login problem was not solved by deleting their cookies could try to lower their general privacy level or add sourceoftitle.com as a site with a lower privacy level.

Of all the bugs that we've had on sourceoftitle.com over the years, this one has been around the longest and has been the most frustrating.  There are many other site administrators who have reported similar problems but no proposed solution I have found has fixed the problem for us.  So naturally, if anyone has this problem, we want to know as much information as possible in order to find any clues or patterns.  So if you have this problem, please email me your browser name and version and which solution fixed the problem for you, if any.  My email address is slade@sourceoftitle.com .