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[ScreenOS] Long, active sessions missing on backup NSRP firewall



Article ID: KB7701 KB Last Updated: 13 May 2020Version: 6.0

Sessions are cleared in the NSRP backup unit.  When firewall fails over, existing sessions fail or packets are dropped.  Also includes explanation of session timeout behavior on backup firewall.


Sessions on the backup firewall are cleared before the session is closed on the primary.  Therefore, in case of a fail over, the traffic gets interrupted.

Long, active sessions missing on the backup firewall could be 'as-expected'.  Here's why, with an explanation of the session timeout behavior on the backup firewall:

  • When a new session is created on a pair of firewalls configured with NSRP, the session is created on the primary with the configured session timeout/ageout, e.g 1800 seconds for a TCP session.
  • When the session is sync'd over to the backup firewall, the session is created with a timeout value of 8 times that of the timeout created on the primary, e.g 14400 seconds for a TCP session.
  • The session timeout value will continue to count down on the backup, even as the session timeout on the primary is refreshed.
  • If a session is closed on the primary, then the session will be closed on the backup. 
  • However, if a session continues to stay open on the primary, and the timeout on the back up is reached, then the session on the backup will be closed.  The problem with this is that if a failover does occur, the session will not exist, so it could drop the traffic for that session. 

Set the following command on the firewall:

set nsrp rto session ageout-ack

With this command set, the backup firewall checks with primary firewall before removing the session table entry in the following two conditions:

  1. If primary firewall's session is active, then the session timeout value is reset to 8 times (just like session initiation).

  2. If primary firewall's session is active, but the timer is not at the service maximum (i.e. the timer is counting down because traffic is not matching the session), then set backup’s session lifetime equal to primary’s.

This command is also documented in the ScreenOS 6.3 IPv4 CLI Reference Guide: Command Descriptions manual:

  session ageout-ack     Specifies a time value based on which the backup device sends an ack message to the primary device to refresh its sessions or time them out.

The session age-out value of a backup device is eight times that of the primary device.

Modification History:
2020-05-03: Article reviewed for accuracy. Added [ScreenOS] tag in the title. Replaced command reference guide hyperlink from ScreenOS 6.0 to 6.3.

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