Many people find it mysterious when they get a message box with the following error message:
Invalid postback or callback argument. Event validation is enabled using <pages enableEventValidation="true"/> in configuration or <%@ Page EnableEventValidation="true" %> in a page. For security purposes, this feature verifies that arguments to postback or callback events originate from the server control that originally rendered them. If the data is valid and expected, use the ClientScriptManager.RegisterForEventValidation method in order to register the postback or callback data for validation.
Unfortunately ASP.NET does not provide enough information to troubleshoot this exception easily. I am going to explain reasons that can cause this exception and give a tip on how to troubleshoot it.
The event validation is designed to prevent malicious requests from breaking your software. When a server page is rendered and sent to the browser web controls tell ASP.NET about all allowed values that the web page can submit back to the server. The collected values are hashed and stored in the hidden input in the web page. When the postback values are received from the client postback values are validated against the hashes stored in this hidden input.
<input type="hidden" name="__EVENTVALIDATION" id="__EVENTVALIDATION" value="/wEWDALLu5z7BQKdkKesBQL0pYTCDAL1pYTCDAL2pYTCDAL3pYTCDALwpYTCDALxpYTCDALypYTCDALjpYTCDALspYTCDAL0pcTBDAn2Nrc2z9979msu0SdahUlFp5dq" />
If server encounters any value with a hash which is among hashes in the __EVENTVALIDATION field it throws an exception with the message above. If you develop with pure ASP.NET and receive such exception it usually means that someone attempts to tamper a request and does it incorrectly.
With the ASP.NET AJAX extensions however it becomes possible to get this exception as a result of developer mistake.
I've constructed a sample which demonstrates what you have to do (really you should not do) to get this weird message box.
<%@ Page Language="C#" AutoEventWireup="true" %>
<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.1//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml11/DTD/xhtml11.dtd">
<title>Conditional Update Panel and Event Validation</title>
<form id="form1" runat="server">
<asp:ScriptManager ID="ScriptManager1" runat="server" />
<asp:UpdatePanel runat="server" ID="FirstUpdatePanel">
<asp:Button runat="server" ID="ClickMeButton" Text="Click Me!" />
<asp:UpdatePanel runat="server" ID="UpdatePanel" UpdateMode="Conditional">
<asp:DropDownList runat="server" ID="DropDownList">
protected override void OnLoad(EventArgs e)
int startCounter = (int?)ViewState["Counter"] ?? 0;
ViewState["Counter"] = startCounter;
for (int i = startCounter; i < startCounter + 10; i++)
ListItem listItem = new ListItem();
listItem.Value = i.ToString();
listItem.Text = i.ToString();
if (i == startCounter)
listItem.Selected = true;
//UpdatePanel.Update(); // Uncomment this line to fix the sample!
If you run this sample and click the button twice you will see exactly the same message box. So, what is causing ASP.NET to throw an exception in the sample above?
The sample changes items in the DropDownList on each postback and changes them in a way that previously selected item disappears from the list on the next postback. (Similar things happen if you implement cascading dropdowns with autopostbacks). If you disable partial rendering by setting ScriptManager property
you will see that the page works perfectly. DropDownList tells ASP.NET about all values in the items collection while it is been rendered and ASP.NET successfully validates submitted value against hashes stored in the "event validation" hidden input on the next postback. If you re-enable partial rendering in this sample, one small but still important thing changes. Render method of the DropDownList is still invoked on every postback, but output of the render method is not sent to the browser, because it is in the UpdatePanel which is not updated in response to button click. (I intentionally made button to cause the asynchronous postback without updating second UpdatePanel). Now, __EVENTVALIDATION hidden input is successfully updated with new hash values for DropDownList, but the DropDownList itself remains unchanged on the client and still submits old selected value on the next postback. When the server receives this value it cannot validate it against the new set of hashes in the "event validation" hidden input and throws he exception.
So, the conclusion is very simple: "Don't change controls during the async postback that are outside an update panel or are in the update panel which is not updated during this asynchronous postback." Or vice versa: "If you have conditional update panels force them to update their client state if you change controls inside the update panel." (See commented code in the sample and try uncommenting it).
Downloadable version of the sample: EventValidation.zip
It is not always easy to find what causes the "event validation failed" problem in the complex ASP.NET page. I recommend following steps to find the control causing the problem:
- Open Visual Studio and configure your website to run in debugging mode, if haven't done it already.
- Be sure that your Visual Studio is configured to show exceptions when they are thrown
- Disable "Exception Assistance" and "Just My Code" debugger features in the options dialog box
- Start your web site under the debugger and reproduce the exception (you may get some other internal ASP.NET exceptions while starting the website - click "continue" until you get the "event validation failed" exception
- Click on break button and open "call stack" tool window
- The selected stack frames on the following screen-shot tells you that the problematic control is DropDownList
- Unfortunately it is not always possible to find what particular control causes the exception, but for DropDownList it is typically possible to do. Double click the DropDownList.LoadPostData stack frame and open "Locals" debug tool window.
You should be able to expand "this" value. (I don't know if you can find a stack frame with accessible this variable for other controls. )
- The final step is to get the UniqueID of the failing control. Just open a QuickWatch and type UniqueID there.
Now when you know which controls causes the problem you should check:
- whether you change properties of this controls and whether you need to change them. If so,
- whether this control is in the update panel and whether this update panel is updated during the asynchronous postback
More Cases Causing the Same Problem
- DropDownList must not be in the update panel to cause the problem. It is enough to change its Items collection during asynchronous postback.
- Do you know other ways to get this exception with Microsoft ASP.NET AJAX Extensions?