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It's a common practice for websites to send email verification links on sign up. Should these verification links expire? I know about a bunch of website where they do and I wonder why?

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3 Answers 3

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There isn't any major security reason behind them expiring. The main reason that this is done is to be able to clean up the database of old unused verification information.

From a UX side, some people argue that having a shorter verification time encourages people to verify sooner rather than later, but I haven't seen any evidence supporting that. It does however fit what I would expect in human behaviour.

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This is a method to keep user database current. If an email is not verified until expiration time the corresponding user account is removed from the user database.

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If you do not need the expiration date in the email you should remove it. You should always strive to decrease friction for the user. Any information they do not need adds friction.

I went through this discussion just the other day and I'm questioning if anyone ever reads the whole message in a confirmation email in the first place.

The person who signed up most likely read a message after the sign up that they have to confirm their email and all they are doing now is trying to get access to their account. Most users are familiar with this process and will instantly click the link in the email and will never read the expiration date, and if they do they will probably ignore it.

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My answer of course only applies if the confirmation email include the expiration date, which I assume it would. –  tblessander Jan 16 '13 at 14:49

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