Sessions and session time-outs in a workbook in the browser

A session represents a specific connection between a client computer and a host computer that makes it possible for the computers to communicate. Usually, the term refers both to the period of time during which the communication can occur, and to the collection of resources that make it possible.

The following sections describe what a session is, how you create and end a session, and how a session timeout can affect you.

What do you want to do?

What is a session?

How to keep a session from timing out

How to initiate a session

How to end a session

What is a session?

A session represents a unique connection between your computer and a server computer. Among other things, the server uses a session to keep track of the status of your work. The server creates sessions as needed. When you open a workbook in the browser, the server creates a session and loads the latest version of the workbook.

Although there can only be one workbook open per session, the same workbook might be opened in several different sessions at the same time by different users. Furthermore, you might have more than one session open at the same time, with the same workbook or a different workbook.

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How to keep a session from timing out

A session can end (or terminate) when the user ends it, explicitly or implicitly. However, if the user does not end the session, the server can end the session if it detects no user interaction within a predetermined amount of time. When the server ends a session in this manner, it is referred to as a session timeout.

To prevent a session timeout, you must interact with the workbook. This might include navigation around the workbook, sorting, filtering, or any other activity that you do with the elements of the workbook. When the server detects user interaction with the workbook, it keeps the session active.

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How to initiate a session

In general, the server creates a session automatically when you open an Excel workbook. However, there are several ways to start a session.

You start a new session when you do any one of the following:

  • Open a workbook in the browser. 

  • Reload a workbook  Reload Workbook closes the current session and creates a new one when it loads a workbook.

  • Open a SharePoint Web Part page, such as a dashboard, that contains a Excel Web Access Web Part.

  • Use a SharePoint Web Part connection to pass the URL of an Excel workbook. You can do this, for example, from the List View Web Part of a document library to the Excel Web Access Web Part.

  • Click the OK or Apply buttons in the Web Part tool pane to update a Excel Web Access Web Part property.

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How to end a session

Your session does not end if you click Refresh, Back, or Forward on the Internet Explorer toolbar. However, you can end the current session by doing any of the following:

  • Allow the session to time out.

  • Close the browser.

  • Reload a workbook.

  • Open a workbook that is contained in a Excel Web Access Web Part that has the Close Session Before Opening a New One property enabled.

  • Click the Help button on the Excel Web Access toolbar while working in Navigate mode.

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