(PHP 5 >= 5.4.0)
SessionHandler is a special class that can be used
to expose the current internal PHP session save handler by inheritance.
There are seven methods which wrap the seven internal session save handler
create_sid). By default, this class will wrap
whatever internal save handler is set as defined by the
configuration directive which is usually
default. Other internal session save handlers are provided by PHP
extensions such as SQLite (as
sqlite), Memcache (as
memcache), and Memcached (as
When a plain instance of SessionHandler is set as the save handler using session_set_save_handler() it will wrap the current save handlers. A class extending from SessionHandler allows you to override the methods or intercept or filter them by calls the parent class methods which ultimately wrap the interal PHP session handlers.
This allows you, for example, to intercept the
methods to encrypt/decrypt the session data and then pass the result to and from the parent class.
Alternatively one might chose to entirely override a method like the garbage collection callback
Because the SessionHandler wraps the current internal save handler methods, the above example of encryption can be applied to any internal save handler without having to know the internals of the handlers.
Please note the callback methods of this class are designed to be called internally by PHP and are not meant to be called from user-space code. The return values are equally processed internally by PHP. For more information on the session workflow, please refer session_set_save_handler().
This class is designed to expose the current internal PHP session save handler, if you want to write your own custom save handlers, please implement the SessionHandlerInterface interface instead of extending from SessionHandler.
Example #1 Using SessionHandler to add encryption to internal PHP save handlers.
class EncryptedSessionHandler extends SessionHandler
public function __construct($key)
$this->key = $key;
public function read($id)
$data = parent::read($id);
return mcrypt_decrypt(MCRYPT_3DES, $this->key, $data, MCRYPT_MODE_ECB);
public function write($id, $data)
$data = mcrypt_encrypt(MCRYPT_3DES, $this->key, $data, MCRYPT_MODE_ECB);
return parent::write($id, $data);
// we'll intercept the native 'files' handler, but will equally work
// with other internal native handlers like 'sqlite', 'memcache' or 'memcached'
// which are provided by PHP extensions.
$handler = new EncryptedSessionHandler('mykey');
// proceed to set and retrieve values by key from $_SESSION
Since this class' methods are designed to be called internally by PHP as part of the normal session workflow, child class calls to parent methods (i.e. the actual internal native handlers) will return
FALSEunless the session has actually been started (either automatically, or by explicit session_start(). This is important to consider when writing unit tests where the class methods might be invoked manually.