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The include_once() statement includes and evaluates the specified file during the execution of the script. This is a behavior similar to the include() statement, with the only difference being that if the code from a file has already been included, it will not be included again. As the name suggests, it will be included just once.
include_once() should be used in cases where the same file might be included and evaluated more than once during a particular execution of a script, and you want to be sure that it is included exactly once to avoid problems with function redefinitions, variable value reassignments, etc.
For more examples on using require_once() and include_once(), look at the PEAR code included in the latest PHP source code distributions.
See also include(), require(), require_once(), get_required_files(), get_included_files(), readfile(), and virtual().