The following PHP manual page (incl. user-notes) suggests multiple instructions on how to close the TCP connection to the browser without ending the PHP script:

Supposedly it requires a bit more than sending a close header.


OP then confirms: yup, this did the trick: pointing to user-note #71172 (Nov 2006) copied here:

Closing the users browser connection whilst keeping your php script running has been an issue since [PHP] 4.1, when the behaviour of register_shutdown_function() was modified so that it would not automatically close the users connection.

sts at mail dot xubion dot hu Posted the original solution:

<?php
header("Connection: close");
ob_start();
phpinfo();
$size = ob_get_length();
header("Content-Length: $size");
ob_end_flush();
flush();
sleep(13);
error_log("do something in the background");
?>

Which works fine until you substitute phpinfo() for echo('text I want user to see'); in which case the headers are never sent!

The solution is to explicitly turn off output buffering and clear the buffer prior to sending your header information. Example:

<?php
ob_end_clean();
header("Connection: close");
ignore_user_abort(true); // just to be safe
ob_start();
echo('Text the user will see');
$size = ob_get_length();
header("Content-Length: $size");
ob_end_flush(); // Strange behaviour, will not work
flush(); // Unless both are called !
// Do processing here 
sleep(30);
echo('Text user will never see');
?>

Just spent 3 hours trying to figure this one out, hope it helps someone :)

Tested in:

  • IE 7.5730.11
  • Mozilla Firefox 1.81

Later on in July 2010 in a related answer Arctic Fire then linked two further user-notes that were-follow-ups to the one above: