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 …

The WordPress & Revisions Feature

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where, after spending a great deal of time composing a new article, something crashes and you suddenly find that you have lost all of your hard work because you forgot to save it?

If this happens and your website is built with WordPress, don’t worry! WordPress comes with a built-in autosave and post revision function that:

  • Automatically saves your pages and posts,
  • Gets your post or page content back if your web browser crashes while you’re working, and,
  • Lets you recover an older version if you’re unhappy with the content of an article.

In this tutorial, we will show you how to use the WordPress autosave and revision feature to recover your posts and pages.

Using WP Revisions & Autosave: Step-By-Step Tutorial

Generally, after saving a page or post, a message like this will display …

Edit Post - Post updated notification

(Edit Post – Post updated message)

Like most things, however, some things can go wrong. For example:

  • Your modem is disconnected,
  • Your internet browser crashes,
  • You experience a power outage,
  • Internet “gremlins” temporarily prevent you from saving your post, etc.

When you try to save your work, a message like this may end up being displayed on your screen instead …

WordPress Failure Notice

(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 go back to a page/post editing screen displaying a previous version of your post, minus any recent changes.

This is where ’autosave’ can bring you peace of mind.

WordPress Autosave

Autosaves are automatically enabled for all WordPress pages and posts, but this does not overwrite any published content.

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

Important

We recommend performing a complete backup of your site files and database before updating any files in your website or blog.

If editing code makes you feel a little uncomfortable, then contact us for assistance.

If you have been working on your post for a while and something happens (e.g. your internet connection goes down temporarily), a warning like this may come up when you go back to your post or page …

Edit Post - Autosave notification

(Autosave notification)

Click on ‘View the autosave’ …

Edit Post - Autosave notification

(Click link to view the autosave)

The Revisions screen comes up, allowing you to recover a previously saved version of your article …

Compare Revisions feature

(Compare Revisions area)

WordPress offers one-click content recovery. Click ‘Restore This Autosave’ …

WordPress offers one-click recovery of autosaved content

(WordPress offers one-click restore)

Autosave recovers the content …

Post content recovered from Autosave

(Autosave restores your latest post revision)

Autosave – Additional Notes

Content Recovery – Session Expired

Sometimes, a ‘Session expired’ message will pop-up …

Session expired

(WordPress – session expired)

If you get logged out, WordPress remembers where you were. This allows you to log in again and pick up where you left off …

Session expired notice

(Session expired notice)

WordPress also warns you if the backup of the post you are currently working on is different from the version you see in the content editor and gives you the opportunity to restore the autosaved backup version.

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

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

Click Restore the backup

Edit Post - Restore backup of post saved in browser

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

Your post will be recovered from your browser backup. Click ‘Undo’ to revert to the previous version of your content …

Post recovered successfully!

(Post recovered from browser backup)

Content Recovery – Loss Of Internet Connection

WordPress can also help you recover content if you lose your internet connection …

WordPress can help you recover content if you lose your internet connection

(WordPress can help you recover content if you lose your internet connection)

Another improvement made after WP version 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

(Content recovery after loss of internet connection. Source: WordPress 4.6 updates)

Revision Management

Post Revisions are a feature that was introduced in WordPress version 2.6. Whenever a WordPress post or a page is saved, it automatically creates a revision and stores it in the WordPress database.

WordPress overhauled its content revision control feature interface in v. 3.6.

The new WordPress revision system included new settings in the Page/Post Publish box called Revisions. This allows you to immediately know how many revisions you have made to your content. Click ’Browse’ to access the ‘Compare Revisions’ section …

WordPress saves all post changes

(WordPress tracks your changes)

The Compare Revisions panel comes up …

Revisions section

(Revisions feature)

Tip

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

How To Compare Revisions – Revision Slider

A Revision Slider allows you to move through your saved revisions. The more revisions you have saved, the more revision markers you will see displayed in the slider …

The more revisions, the longer the slider

(The more revisions, the longer the slider)

When you make changes to content and update posts or pages, your revisions show up in the revision slider in black, along with the save interval, time, and date of the revision …

Revision slider

(Revision slider)

Revisions saved automatically by WordPress show up in the slider highlighted in red, along with the save interval, time, and date of the revision …

Autosave

(Revision slider – autosave)

How To Compare Revisions – Options

To navigate between post revisions, move the revision slider button left (older) or right (newer) …

Move the button to the left or right of the slider

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

There are also buttons to help you move through each revision.

Click ‘Previous’ to browse earlier versions …

Click 'Previous' to browse previous revisions

(Compare Revisions – ‘Previous’ button)

Click ‘Next’ to review later revisions …

Compare Revisions - 'Next' button

(Click ‘Next’ to view newer revisions)

You can also select and compare two different revisions by ticking ‘Compare any two revisions’ …

'Compare any two revisions' box

(’Compare any two revisions’ box)

You can adjust the sliders to compare any two post revisions …

Compare two different revisions

(Compare any 2 revisions independently)

When you find the revision you want to restore, click the ‘Restore This Revision’ button …

'Restore This Revision' button

(‘Restore This Revision’ button)

To cancel the operation and exit, click the title link …

Click the post title link to exit

(Click on the post title to exit)

You can also leave the Compare Revisions page without making any changes by clicking on Return to editor

Click to return to content editor

(’Return to editor’)

WordPress Post Revisions Feature – Additional Notes

As mentioned earlier, there are some changes you can make to the WordPress revisions function such as changing the autosave interval or disabling the feature altogether, but these typically require making modifications to WordPress files. If you are worried about editing files inside your 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.

Post Editor Screen – View The Revisions Box

As soon as you update a post/page, WordPress begins to store new revisions in its database. You can see these displayed in a Revisions section at the bottom of your page or post …

Post Editor section - The Post revisions box

(Viewing the post revisions list)

If the Revisions area isn’t visible in the Post editor screen, click on the Screen Options  tab near the top of your screen …

Screen Options tab

(Post Editor – Screen Options tab)

Tick the box next to ‘Revisions’ in the Boxes section …

Screen Options tab - Revisions

(Post Editor: Screen Options tab – Revisions)

You should now see the Revisions list displayed under the editor section. Click any of the links to bring up the Revisions page with saved data for that item …

Post Editor: Revisions Box

(Revisions Box)

Managing Content Revisions – WordPress Plugins

Autosave and post revisions are no doubt features that help make work more productive. If you write or edit a lot of content, however, the revisions can start to build up. This can significantly bloat the size of your WordPress database, so it’s important to be able to manage your revisions.

As you write more posts on your site, your database could be storing lots of unnecessary data

(As post revisions accumulate, your database could be storing lots of unnecessary data)

For example, if there are 10 posts published on your site with an average of 5 revisions each your WordPress database could be storing around 500 copies of old data. If your post averages 100KB data, then with 500 revisions of that post, the total database space wasted is about 50MB.

The good news is that there are several plugins that can 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 restore earlier revisions of your WordPress pages or posts.

The WordPress & Revisions Feature

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"I am beyond impressed with what you have put together. I can tell that you put a ton of hard work into building what you have. You have the absolute best content on WordPress I have ever seen!" - Robert T. Jillie

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