Monthly Downloads: 20
Programming language: Elixir
License: MIT License
Latest version: v0.3.5

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A memcached session store for Elixir's plug.


Provides the application :plug_session_memcached to be included in your app. This will create connection to a memcached server instance. Then, you may use the plug Plug.Session.MEMCACHED, presumably in a Phoenix endpoint.


I use it in conjunction with the great Phoenix Framework. If you encounter any issues, I'll be glad if you gave me notice.


Add these to your project's mix.exs: Adding both :lager and :corman to your applications section is required to make thing work if you plan to create a release with the great exrm tool. Also make sure to add the plug to included_applications.

# will create a mcd connection to memcached as :memcached_sessions
def application do
    applications: [
       :lager, :corman # <-- add these both (mcd needs them)
    included_applications: [
        :plug_session_memcached # <--- add this entry

# add dependency
defp deps do
    {:plug_session_memcached, "~> 0.3.3" }, # <-- add this entry
    {:mcd, github: "EchoTeam/mcd"}          # <-- and this one 

You may want to alter the standard memcached host/port in your config.exs (or dev.exs or prod.exs). If no config is given, host and port 11211 is used:

# be sure to use a binary for the host the underlying memcached connector is written in Erlang)
# server: [ <host_binary>, <port_integer> ]
config :plug_session_memcached,
  server: [ '', 11211 ]

Be sure to manually include :mcd as hex won't fetch github dependencies automatically for you. At some point I might switch to tsharju's :memcache_client which should do the same.

Then use the plug

plug Plug.Session,
  store: :memcached,
  key: "_my_app_key", # use a proper value 
  table: :memcached_sessions, # <-- this on is hard coded into the plug
  signing_salt: "123456",   # use a proper value
  encryption_salt: "654321" # use a proper value

In phoenix (version 1.0 and above), add the lines above to your lib/<yourapp>/endpoint.ex. For an example, see endpoint.ex in my skeleton app repo

Motivation: Why Memcached when there's an ETS or Cookie store?

A short discussion: I am probably wrong.

I am using memcached for session storage for over a decade now in conjunction with many languages and web frameworks. And it just works great:

  • for me, memcached is battle-proven. Not a single issue in a decade
  • support for memcached server clusters (mcd apparently doesn't support this)
  • 1MB of session storage (default memcached bucket size) as long :erlang.term_to_binary(<your_session_data>) fits in a megabyte
  • no need for a distributed erlang setup in a load-balanced scenario: sessions are like a database on a single-purpose machine.

Downside of Cookies

While it's so great and simple to store session data in the cookie itself, it has some downsides:

Even when the cookie is encrypted and signed, there is still some information about the size of information stored in it.

Apart from changing your session key there's no easy way to invalidate a certain session cookie. For example: A user logs in and you assign the value "user_id", to your session data. Someone could record that cookie and simply re-use it.

IMHO the server should be the single source of truth for login states.


Plug.Session.MEMCACHED.ETS solves the problem of cookies by only storing a session id in the cookie. But it's hard to access from outside of your App and if your app needs to restart all your session data is lost which doesn't come in handy in development or production (unless hot code reloading is your cup of tea).


Yeah, would be a nice option. But I like session data to be in-memory. When the server crashes session data is gone anyways.

So Memcached is best?

Certainly not for all purposes, but for mine. Pro: memcached is fast. I still have to compare it against ETS (which I assume to be faster as one can spare the TCP overhead) but for general purpose it's very fast and should not be a bottleneck.

Memcached service doesn't go away with your application. A thing that certainly often happens in development. If you really want to, you can delete all your data just be restarting memcached. ETS or DETS would give you more options on what data to delete.

All in all, storing session data in memcached seems to me like the best fit.