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What makes web browser clear form entries on BACK?

Internet explorer - using SSL web page with browser form... user submits form... hits BACK button... sometimes the form entries are there and sometimes they are not.  The Apache web server is set to a 1 hour timeout.   Users think it may be clearing the form entries in as little as 10 or 15 minutes.

What controls whether a form's entries are still there when you hit BACK?

Does using SSL make the problem worse?

I've seen a "timeout tuner" on the web and some articles about setting a regsistry value but those were for NT or old IE versions.

I'm looking for information... I realize session variables etc. could be stored and reloaded but that's NOT WHAT I'm LOOKING FOR... I'm looking for simple what factors affect when the form is cleared and also if a timeout applies where it is, if local to the PC, and how to increase it.
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1 Solution
William ElliottSr Tech GuruCommented:
i think this is what is what you're looking for

1. Open an Internet Explorer session
2. On the menu bar click on Tools and select Internet Options
3. Click on the Advanced tab
4. Scroll through the list to the Security section at the bottom
5. Check the box next to the option "Do Not Save Encrypted Pages To Disk"
torrid333Author Commented:
abuckheit -  that article is specific to php which I am NOT using.  The only part in there relevant was where some guy says it's browser dependent but no further info is given about variations between browsers, or how a local user could change or increase the timeout locally or even which browsers have problems.

Weellio - saving the pages to disk is a good thing... I WANT the user to be able to use back and go back to form entries... tweak them, without re-entering everything, and resubmit.  Turning that off will make the problem worse I think.

CLARIFICATION: When the user hits the BACK button, we do not get a "page expired" message.  We get the full page, just sometimes the form is cleared and sometimes it's not.

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William ElliottSr Tech GuruCommented:
tools  - internet options - settings (for browsing history) - change it to never

what you're asking for is an odd request. you should want these forms cleared out. but when you hit the back button it is opening up a cached page that is saved locally on the hard drive when it 'clears' itself, this is because it reconnected to the website to get the latest version of the form.

changing this setting to never and unchecking the above setting that i mentioned should make the details in the forms available (most of the time) assuming you are using internet explorer

most people want to do something like this http://www.4guysfromrolla.com/webtech/012600-1.shtml so that the form is emptied out every time. if they have a large amount of data they have to keep entering into fields, then get somethign like google toolbarsautofill.... or make your own autofill toolbar

just my suggestions
William ElliottSr Tech GuruCommented:
another option

Create your session variables on the second page using unique and meaningful names

Session(mySessionData) = Request.Form(txtBoxName)

Write code in at the top of your form page to check if the session variable contains any data and if it does, populate the form with the stored data rather than presenting a blank form. You will need to destroy the session variables somewhere. The main problem with session variables is managing them, if your user doesnt decide to submit or go back to the form but instead navigates to another page, the session variable still has data stored inside it and when the user comes back to the form, the data loads inside the form again.

Destroy your session variable:

Set Session(mySessionData) = nothingSession.Contents.Remove(mySessionData)
torrid333Author Commented:
weellio  - there are no session variables and they are not logged into anything. It's just a form submit calculator where the user fills in an input form, we POST to a perl cgi and it shows some output.  it's real simple, and the users don't want to have to refill in every form item when they decide to go BACK.

Worst case I have to code in the web server software a "try again" function that indeed remembers all their inputs and resets them in the initial input form.  Don't want to have to do that though.  This would not involve any session tracking though.  If vars are present the form would prepopulate.  Don't want to go down that path though.  Would rather tell client "its' a browser problem and changing this and that will fix it".  If your suggestions work then that would be great....

I don't understand why never having browser history and not saving pages on disk will help prevent the browser from going to the server.  I don't want to clear the form on back like all the other posts I have seen.  I want to have their text box entries and pop-down selections still there when they hit back.  Can you please explain further?
William ElliottSr Tech GuruCommented:
keep in mind i have dealt with these scenarios jsut like you, but i am not the knowit all for IE options..

chances are that the setting here
tools  - internet options - settings (for browsing history)
for most of your users is set to automatic. this creates a pretty much random action when they REaccess a page. sometimes it will use the cached copy, sometimes it won't,.

I had to set up group policy at a site that changed the settings for all users to "always" in order to make sure that they were not caching their information.  you want the opposite, so i am assuming that changing your options to never will create the opposite scenario.

or as stated above if you want to make sure that the information will alwasy be there, then you can ceate the session variable.

personally in your scenario if the users have to access the specfic pages a numerous amount of time, then i'd find a way to create a cookie or something to hold the information for them
William ElliottSr Tech GuruCommented:
any luck?
torrid333Author Commented:
Without making the setting changes you advised, I could get the app to sit in my browser for well over an hour and still be able to hit BACK as well as a javascript "Try again" button and it worked fine.  Going back to inputs page had all the inputs still there ready for editing and resubmission.

The SSL timeout on the server was 1 hour and it still didn't time out.

Thus, I could not test that your suggestion worked or didn't work because I can't reproduce the clients problem on my machine.

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