Is a timestamp in microseconds always unique?

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Is a timestamp in microseconds always unique? – Here in this article, we will share some of the most common and frequently asked about PHP problem in programming with detailed answers and code samples. There’s nothing quite so frustrating as being faced with PHP errors and being unable to figure out what is preventing your website from functioning as it should like php and timestamp . If you have an existing PHP-based website or application that is experiencing performance issues, let’s get thinking about Is a timestamp in microseconds always unique?.

uniqid() in PHP generates a unique ID based on the current timestamp in microseconds. Is that really a foolproof way to generate a unique ID?

Even assuming there’s a single user running a single script with a loop generating a timestamp in microseconds, can there still really be a theoretical guarantee that it’s unqiue? And in practice, is the likelihood completely negligible?

For clarity, say your loop is nothing more than this:

foreach($things as $thing){

is there any theoretical chance it might not be unique and, if so, how realistic is it in practice?

Solution :

Microsecond based ids are only guaranteed to be unique within limits. A single threaded scripts on a single computer is probably pretty safe in this regard. However, as soon as you start talking about parallel execution, be that simply on multiple CPUs within the same machine or especially across multiple machines, all bets are off.

So it depends on what you want to use this id for. If you’re just using it to generate an id which is used only within the same script, it’s probably safe enough. For example:

<?php $randomId = uniqid(); ?>
<div id="<?php echo $randomId; ?>"></div>
    var div = document.getElementById('<?php echo $randomId; ?>');

You very likely won’t encounter any problems here with this limited use.

However, if you start generating file names using uniqid or other such uses which are shared with other external scripts, I wouldn’t rely on it. For filenames, using a hash based on the file contents may be a good idea. For general purpose decentralised randomly generated ids, UUIDs are a good fit (because they’ve been designed for this purpose).

Ask yourself why you need uniqid in the first place. For instance, I use uniquid as the filename of uploads to my website. There can be any number of users who upload at the same time so what I am concerned with is two or more files having the same id, BUT I know that a single user can only upload one file at a time. So, I prepend the username in front and will always have uniqueness.

echo uniqid('username-'); // username-5621e3335ac0c

Of course, you should always ask yourself if you need to use uniquid in the first place. If you know the reason you are creating the id can only happen every x seconds, minutes, etc then you can create an id the same way just use time :

echo 'username-'.time(); // username-1445062025

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