How To Use WordPress Autosave And Post Revisions

Learn how to use the WordPress autosave and post revisions feature to restore and recover content revisions in your posts and pages …

Post Recovery & Autosave Function Of WordPress

Have you ever experienced this situation? After spending much time editing a post, something unexpected happens and you suddenly find that you have lost all of your hard work because you didn’t hit the ‘Save’ button as you went along?

If this ever happens and you use WordPress, then worry not! WordPress has a built-in autosave and revision system that:

  • Automatically saves earlier versions of your posts and pages,
  • Gets your page or post back if your browser crashes while you’re working, and,
  • Lets you restore an older draft if you’ve changed the content of your article and would like to backtrack.

This tutorial explains how to use the autosave and post revision system of WordPress to automatically save, recover, and restore content in your pages and posts.

How To Use The Post Revisions Function Of WordPress: Tutorial

Usually, after updating a post or page, you will see a message like the one shown below …

Post updated message

(Edit Post – Post updated notice)

WordPress autosave and post revisions ensure that your content is periodically saved, so you can restore previous post revisions when something unexpected should happen, for example:

  • Your internet connection falls down,
  • Your internet browser freezes up and crashes,
  • You experience a power outage,
  • etc.

If you try to save your work, a ‘WordPress Failure Notice’ like this may end up being displayed on your screen instead …

Are you sure you want to do this?

(WordPress Failure Notice)

If you get the message Are you sure you want to do this? Please try again and click on the ‘Please try again’ link, you will normally be taken back to a page or post editing screen displaying an older version of your post, minus any changes that you recently made.

This is where ’autosave’ can really save you time.

WordPress Autosave

Autosaves are stored as a special kind of revision in your site’s database so they won’t overwrite the page or post you are working on.

By default, posts are saved to your WordPress database every 60 seconds. This interval can be changed by adding code to your wp-config.php file.


We recommend performing a complete backup of your site files and database before making any updates to important website files.

If editing files inside your web server makes you feel a little worried, feel free to contact us for help.

If you have been working for a while and something happens (e.g. your browser crashes), a notice like the one shown below may come up when you get back to your post or page …

Autosave notification

(Edit Post – Autosave notice)

Click on the link (‘View the autosave’) …

Autosave notification

(Autosave notification)

You will be taken to the Revisions feature panel where an autosaved version of your post can be recovered …

Revisions page

(Compare Revisions feature panel)

WordPress offers one-click post/page recovery of autosaved content. Click Restore This Autosave

WordPress offers one-click post recovery

(WordPress offers one-click content recovery)

Autosave recovers the content you were working on …

Autosave restores your post

(Post recovered from Autosave)

WordPress Post Autosave – Additional Information

Content Recovery – Session Expired

Sometimes, a ‘Session expired’ message will appear …

WordPress - session expired

(Session expired)

If your login session expires, WordPress remembers where you were. Log in again and continue working from where you left off …

Session expired notice

(Session expired notice – log in again to continue working)

WordPress also warns you if the backup of the post you are currently working on is not the same as the version showing in the editor and gives you the opportunity to restore your saved backup version.

Edit Post - Restore post backup

(’The backup of this post in your browser is different from the version below.’ notice)

Click on ‘Restore the backup’ …

'The backup of this post in your browser is different from the version below. Restore the backup.' warning

(’The backup of this post in your browser is different from the version below. Restore the backup.’ notice)

WordPress recovers your post from the browser backup …

Your post is restored!

(Post restored from browser backup)

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

(Recover content if you lose your internet connection)

Another improvement made after WordPress 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 …

Recover content after loss of internet connection

(Recover content after loss of internet connection. Source: WordPress 4.6 updates)

WordPress Post Revision Management Function

The Post Revisions feature was introduced in WordPress v. 2.6. Whenever a post or a page is saved, a revision is automatically created and stored in the WordPress database.

Significant enhancements were made to the WordPress content revision management feature interface after WordPress 3.6.

The new WordPress revision system included new settings in the Post/Page Publish box called Revisions. This allows you to see at a glance how many revisions you have made. and lets you bring up the ‘Revisions’ screen by clicking the ‘Browse’ link …

WordPress records all changes made to your posts

(WordPress saves all changes you make)

The Revisions page comes up …

Compare Revisions page

(Revisions section)

Useful Tip

Note: This feature is the same for Posts and Pages.

How To Compare Revisions – Revision Slider

When comparing post or page revisions, a Revision Slider displays at the top of the screen, allowing you to move through your revisions. The more revisions you have, the more revision segments will appear in the slider …

The more revisions you have saved, the longer your slider will be

(The more revisions you have, the longer the slider will be)

Revisions created by making changes to content and updating posts or pages appear in the slider marked in black, with the save interval, time, and date of the revision …

Revision marker

(Revision marker)

When WordPress automatically saves your post or page, your revisions show up in the slider highlighted in red, with the save interval, time, and date of the revision …

Autosave revision slider


How To Compare Revisions – Options

You can navigate between post revisions by moving the slider left or right …

Move the revision slider to the left or right

(Move the button to the right or left of the revision slider)

There are also buttons to help you navigate between revisions.

Click ‘Previous’ to inspect past versions …

Compare Revisions - 'Previous' button

(Compare Revisions – ‘Previous’ button)

Click ‘Next’ to inspect newer revisions …

Compare Revisions - 'Next' button

(Compare Revisions – ‘Next’ button)

As well as comparing sequential revisions, WordPress lets you compare two different revisions by enabling the ‘Compare any two revisions’ checkbox …

Compare any two revisions

(Compare any two revisions)

This lets you adjust two slider buttons to compare any two saved revisions …

Compare 2 different revisions

(Compare 2 different revisions)

When you find the version you want to restore, click Restore This Revision

Click to restore revision

(Click to restore selected post revision)

To cancel the operation and go back to the current version of your page or post, click the title of your page/post …

Click the post title link to exit

(Click the title of your post to go back)

You can also exit the Compare Revisions feature without making any changes by clicking Return to editor

Click to return to post editor

(’Return to editor’)

WordPress Revisions – Additional Notes

As mentioned earlier, there are some changes you can make to the WordPress revisions function such as changing the autosave interval or even disabling the feature altogether, but these typically involve making modifications to code in WordPress files. If working with files inside your server worries you, then contact your web host or get professional assistance.

Let’s focus, then, on some additional aspects of WordPress post revisions management that don’t require messing around with code.

WordPress Post Revisions Box – Post Editor Screen

As soon as you create, edit, and save posts and pages, WordPress begins to store new revisions in its database. These appear in a Revisions list below your page editor …

Post Editor screen - View the WordPress revisions list

(View the WordPress revisions list)

If the Revisions box isn’t visible in the Post editor screen, click the Screen Options  tab in the top right-hand corner of your screen …

Post Editor - Screen Options tab

(Post Editor – Screen Options tab)

Enable the box for ‘Revisions’ in the Boxes section …

Post Editor: Screen Options tab - Revisions

(Post Editor: Screen Options tab – Revisions)

You will now see the Revisions box below your content. Click any of the links to bring up the Revisions screen …

Revisions Box

(Post Editor: Revisions Box)

Managing Content Revisions – WordPress Plugins

Autosave and revisions are no doubt features that help make work more productive. If you write and edit often, however, over time the revisions can start building up. This can significantly bloat the size of your WordPress database, so it’s important to manage your revisions.

Post revisions can really add up after a while

(As you write more posts, your WordPress database could be storing lots of unnecessary data)

For example, if there are 250 posts published on your site and each post has 10 revisions your database could be storing around 2,500 copies of unnecessary data. If your post averages 100KB data, then with 2,500 revisions of that post, the total database space wasted is about 250MB.

The good news is that there are various free plugins for WordPress to help you control your revisions and reduce the size of your WordPress 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 older post and page revisions.

WP Autosave & Page/Post Recovery


"These tutorials have so much information and are easy to understand. If you use WordPress or plan to in the future these will help you with everything you need to know." - Valisa (Mesa, Arizona)

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Originally published as How To Use WordPress Autosave And Post Revisions.