Have you ever found yourself in this situation? After investing a great deal of time editing a post, something crashes and you suddenly find that you have lost all of your hard work because you forgot to hit the ‘Save’ button as you went along?
If this ever happens, then worry not! WordPress has a built-in autosave and revision system that:
- Automatically saves earlier versions of your posts,
- Can get your post or page content back if your browser crashes while you’re working, and,
- Lets you restore an older version if you’re unhappy with the content in your article.
In this step-by-step tutorial, we will show you how to use the WordPress autosave and revision system to automatically save, recover, and restore your posts and pages while working on your content.
The WordPress Autosave & Post Revisions Feature: Step-By-Step Tutorial
Usually, after saving a page or post, a confirmation message like the one shown in the example below will display …
(Edit Post – Post updated message)
WordPress autosave and post revisions ensure that your content is regularly saved, allowing you to undo changes to your drafts and revert back to older post revisions if an unlikely event were to happen, such as:
- The internet goes down,
- Your internet browser crashes,
- You experience a power outage,
- Internet “gremlins” temporarily prevent you from publishing a new post, etc.
When you try to save your work, a ‘WordPress Failure Notice’ message like this may end up being displayed on your screen instead …
(WordPress Failure Notice)
When you get the message Are you sure you want to do this? Please try again and click on ‘Please try again’, you will normally return to a screen displaying an earlier version of your post, minus any changes that you recently made.
This is where ’autosave’ can bring you peace of mind.
The Autosave Function Of WordPress
Autosaves are automatically enabled for all WordPress posts and pages, but this does not overwrite your published content.
By default, WordPress autosaves your post in the WordPress database every sixty seconds. This interval can be changed by modifying code in your wp-config.php file.
We strongly recommend performing a backup of your site files and database before making any changes to important website files.
If working with files inside your web server makes you feel hesitant, feel free to get in touch. We’ll be glad to help you.
If you have been working on your edits for a while and something happens (e.g. your internet connection goes down temporarily), you could see a There is an autosave of this post …’ warning like this when you get back to editing your post …
(Edit Post – Autosave notification)
Click on the link (‘View the autosave’) …
(Edit Post – ’View the autosave’)
You will be taken to a revision page where an autosaved version of your post can be recovered …
(Compare Revisions feature panel)
WordPress offers one-click recovery of autosaved content. Click Restore This Autosave …
(WordPress offers one-click post/page recovery of autosaved content)
Autosave recovers your content …
(Post content restored with Autosave)
Autosave – Additional Information
Content Recovery – Session Expired
Sometimes, your login session will simply expire while you are still working …
If you get logged out, WordPress remembers where you were. Log in again and continue working from where you left off …
(Session expired notice – log in again to continue working)
WordPress also warns you if the backup of the post you are working on is not the same as the version displayed in the editor and gives you the opportunity to restore the saved backup version.
(Edit Post – Restore backup of post saved in browser)
Click on ‘Restore the backup’ …
(Edit Post – Restore backup)
Your content will be recovered from the browser backup …
(Your post is restored!)
Content Recovery – Loss Of Internet Connection
WordPress can also help you recover content if you lose your internet connection …
(Recover content if you lose your internet connection)
Another improvement made after WP 4.6 is content recovery from loss of connection. If you lose your internet connection while writing, your drafts are saved locally to your browser. When you return to edit, WordPress notifies you if there is a more recent draft, allowing you to restore the most recent version of your content …
(Content recovery after loss of internet connection. Source: WordPress 4.6 updates)
Content Revision Management
The Post Revisions feature was introduced to WordPress in version 2.6. Whenever you saves a post or a page, a revision is automatically created and stored in your WP database.
After WP 3.6, WordPress made significant improvements to its post/page revision control system.
The new revision system also added new settings in the Publish box called Revisions, which automatically calculates how many revisions you have made to your post/page. and lets you access the ‘Compare Revisions’ section by clicking on the ‘Browse’ link …
(Publish – Revisions)
The Compare Revisions section appears in your browser …
(Compare Revisions section)
Note: This feature works the same way on both Posts and Pages.
How To Compare Revisions
A Revision Slider allows you to move through different saved revisions. The more revisions you have saved, the longer your slider will be …
(The more revisions you have saved, the more revision segments will appear in the slider)
When you make changes to content and update posts or pages, your revisions appear in the slider highlighted in black, along with the save interval, time, and date of the revision …
Revisions saved automatically by WordPress show up in the revision slider highlighted in red, with the save interval, time, and date of the post/page revision …
Revision Management – Navigation
You can navigate between different post revisions by moving the slider left (older) or right (newer) …
(Move the revision slider button to the right or left)
There are also buttons to help you navigate between revisions.
Click ‘Previous’ to inspect previous versions …
(Compare Revisions – ‘Previous’ button)
Click ‘Next’ to compare newer revisions …
(Click ‘Next’ to browse more recent post revisions)
You can also compare different revisions by ticking the ‘Compare any two revisions’ option …
(Compare any two revisions)
You can adjust the slider buttons to compare any two revisions …
(Compare different post revisions)
Find the version you want to restore and click the ‘Restore This Revision’ button …
(’Restore This Revision’)
To cancel the operation and exit without restoring any revisions, click the title of your page/post …
(Click the title of your post to exit)
You can also leave the Compare Revisions page by clicking Return to editor …
(Click to return to post editor)
WordPress Revisions Function – Additional Information
As mentioned earlier, there are some changes you can make to the WordPress revisions function such as changing the autosave interval and disabling the feature altogether, but these generally require making edits to WordPress files. If you are not confident editing files inside your web server, then contact your web host or get professional assistance.
Let’s focus, then, on some additional aspects of WordPress post revisions that don’t require coding skills.
WordPress Post Revisions Box – Post Editor Section
As soon as you edit and save your posts/pages, WordPress begins to store new revisions in its database. You can see these displayed in a Revisions box below the page or post …
(Viewing the WordPress post revisions list – Post Editor screen)
If you can’t see the Revisions list, click on the Screen Options tab near the top of your screen …
(Post Editor – Screen Options tab)
Make sure that the check box for ‘Revisions’ in the Boxes section is enabled …
(Screen Options tab – Revisions)
You should now see the Revisions list under your content. Clicking the links will bring up the Revisions panel …
Managing Post Revisions Using Plugins
Having access to content workflow features like autosave and revisions is undoubtedly a good thing. If you write and edit often, however, the number of revisions can start building up. This can significantly bloat the size of your WordPress database, so it’s important to be able to manage your revisions.
(Post revisions can really add up after a while)
For example, if there are 250 posts on your site and each post has an average of 10 revisions you could be storing an extra 2,500 copies of old data. If your post averages 100KB data, then with 2,500 post revisions, the total space wasted is about 250MB.
Fortunately, there are some really great free plugins for WordPress available to help you control your revisions and reduce the size of your database.
To learn more about WordPress plugins that will help you manage your post revisions, go here:
Congratulations, now you know how to use the WordPress Revisions feature to recover earlier saved revisions of your WordPress pages and posts.
"This is an awesome training series. I have a pretty good understanding of WordPress already, but this is helping me to move somewhere from intermediate to advanced user!" - Kim Lednum