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How to fix "Validation of viewstate MAC failed. If this application is hosted by a Web Farm or cluster, ensure that configuration specifies the same validationKey and validation algorithm. AutoGenerate cannot be used in a cluster"

Introduction:  In this article I will explain the reason and solution to fix to the error “Validation of viewstate MAC failed. If this application is hosted by a Web Farm or cluster, ensure that configuration specifies the same validationKey and validation algorithm. AutoGenerate cannot be used in a cluster”.

Reason of this error:

View state data that is transferred between the client and the server is always validated to ensure that the ViewState data is not tampered. As the ViewState data is encrypted and decrypted, a unique key is used to encrypt/decrypt this data. When the application is hosted on a single machine, then there is no issue as the key will always be same for both encryption and decryption process. But this will not be the case in web farm because this key value will be different across the servers.

How to fix:

There are three solutions to fix this issue:
  • First solution is to set the EnableViewStateMac to false in the web.config: EnableViewStateMac is the attribute of the Page tag that comes under the <system.web>. It will look like:
      <system.web>
<pages enableViewStateMac="false">
        .
        .
        .
 </pages>
     </system.web>
  • Second solution is to set the EnableViewStateMac to false at page level as:
<%@ Page EnableViewStateMac="false" Language="C#" AutoEventWireup="true" CodeFile="Default.aspx.cs" Inherits="_Default" %>

But we need to do this for all pages across the application. So it becomes very time consuming job if we have to implement it on large application having many pages.
  • Third and recommended solution is to specify our own value for encryption and decryption in the web.config file. We can generate the machine key via the Unique Machine KeyGenerator. The generated key will be the same across all the servers. Below is the sample keys. 
<system.web>
<machineKey validationKey='D3A686722DDE36968147312E2D0EF0F61AC13C1725723317ABE201CE98EF3876E962748E28307308BBA1B4C9E670D52822C8B19E35657725C798FA51E6641F0C' decryptionKey='85C571FEEBFAF94517FAAC3136A29CAAA800033B909EDB52' validation='SHA1'/>
</system.web>

Note: Generate your own keys and replace the validationKey and decryptionKey with your own unique generated keys.

All the three solutions will fix the issue, but it is always recommended to go with specifying the custom key for encryption and decryption in web.config. This is because when we set the EnableViewStateMac value to false we expose our application to security threats. This is because validation of view state will not happen in this case.

Now over to you:

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