Keeping Sessions Active When Websites Log You Out in Python Requests

Feb 3, 2024 ยท 2 min read

Many websites automatically log users out after a period of inactivity, often for security reasons. This can be frustrating if you want to maintain an active session across multiple requests. When using the Python requests library, the requests.Session() object allows you to persist certain session data across requests, but it does not prevent the website from logging you out.

Here are some tips for keeping your session active when working with the requests library:

  • Set a cookie jar on the session - The session object has a .cookies attribute that acts as a cookie jar, persisting cookies across requests. Be sure to set this attribute so cookies are saved:
  • session = requests.Session()
    session.cookies = requests.cookies.RequestsCookieJar()
  • Re-use the same session - Make all your requests through the same session instance, rather than creating new sessions each time. This will ensure cookies and other session data are retained.
  • Implement a keep-alive - For long-running scripts, you may want to occasionally make a dummy request to keep the session fresh before the website logs you out. Some common keep-alive methods:
  • # Make a HEAD request 
    # Load a specific keep-alive URL 
  • Extract and re-apply the session cookie - For sites that use a single session ID cookie, you may be able to extract this from the cookie jar and re-apply it later to revive an expired session.
  • The key things to understand are that the requests module itself won't prevent server-side session timeouts - you have to implement workarounds like keep-alives. Pay attention to how the website tracks sessions and reproduce those patterns in your requests script. With some trial and error, you can write long-running scrapers and bots even for sites trying to enforce timeouts.

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