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 …

Using The Post Revisions Function Of WordPress

Have you ever been in a situation where, after spending much time and effort editing an article, something goes wrong and you suddenly find that you have lost all of your hard work because you did not remember to save it?

If this happens, don’t feel dismayed! WordPress comes with an autosave and content revision feature that:

  • Automatically saves earlier versions of your posts and pages,
  • Can get your post or page back if something happens to your browser or computer while you’re working, and,
  • Lets you recover an earlier version if you’re unhappy with the content of an article.

In this step-by-step tutorial, you will learn how to use the built-in WordPress autosave and content recovery function to automatically recover and restore your posts and pages.

Post Recovery And Autosave Feature Of WordPress: Step-By-Step Tutorial

Usually, whenever you edit and save a page or post, you will see a message like this …

Post updated successfully!

(Edit Post – Post updated message)

Things can and do go wrong, however. For example:

  • Your wi-fi connection goes down,
  • Your internet browser freezes up,
  • Power outages,
  • A number of other reasons temporarily prevent you from saving or publishing your new post, etc.

When you try to save your work, you might end up seeing a ‘WordPress Failure Notice’ message like this instead …

WordPress Post Save Error Message

(WordPress Failure Notice)

When 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 return to an editing screen displaying an older version of your post, minus any recent changes.

This is where ’autosave’ can be very handy.

The Autosave Function

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

By default, WordPress saves the current version of your post in the WordPress database every 60 seconds. This interval can be changed by modifying code in your wp-config.php file.

Important

We recommend performing a backup of your data and files before modifying your website.

If you are concerned about editing code, then get in touch for help.

If you have been working on your edits for a while and something happens (e.g. your browser crashes), a There is an autosave of this post that is more recent than the version below’ warning like this may come up when you return to your post …

Edit Post - Autosave notification

(Edit Post – Autosave notification)

Click on the ‘View the autosave’ link …

'View the autosave'

(Edit Post – Autosave notice)

The Compare Revisions feature panel displays, allowing you to restore an autosaved version of your post …

Compare Revisions section

(Revisions section)

WordPress offers one-click restore of autosaved content. Click ‘Restore This Autosave’ …

WordPress offers one-click recovery of autosaved content

(WordPress offers one-click post/page recovery)

Your post will be restored from autosave …

Autosave restores your latest post

(Post recovered from Autosave)

WordPress Autosave – Additional Info

Content Recovery – Session Expired

Sometimes, you will get a ‘Session expired’ notification …

Session expired notice

(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 working on is not the same as the version showing in the content editor and gives you the opportunity to restore the saved backup.

'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.’ notice)

Click Restore the backup

Browser backup

(Browser backup)

Your post will be recovered from your browser backup …

Post recovered successfully!

(Post restored successfully!)

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

(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)

Revision Control Feature

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

After WordPress version 3.6, WordPress made significant enhancements to its content revision control function interface.

The new WordPress revision system also added a new option to the Page/Post Publish box called Revisions. This allows you to immediately know how many revisions you have made. Click ’Browse’ to easily access the ‘Compare Revisions’ panel …

Publish - Revisions

(Publish – Revisions)

The Compare Revisions interface comes up …

Compare Revisions page

(Revisions screen)

Practical Tip

Note: This function is available for Posts and Pages.

Comparing Revisions

A Revision Slider allows you to move through your revisions. The more revisions you have saved, the longer the slider will be …

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

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

Revisions created by editing content and updating your post or page appear in the slider marked in black, along with the save interval, time, and date of the post/page revision …

Revision

(Revision marker)

Revisions saved automatically by WordPress display in the slider marked in red, with the save interval, time, and date of the revision …

Autosave revision

(Autosave)

How To Compare Revisions – Navigation Options

You can navigate between adjacent revisions by moving the revision slider to the left or right …

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 navigate between revisions.

Click ‘Previous’ to compare older post revisions …

Compare Revisions - 'Previous' button

(Click ‘Previous’ to browse older post revisions)

Click ‘Next’ to inspect your newer versions …

Click 'Next' to view newer post revisions

(Click ‘Next’ to browse more recent post revisions)

You can also select and compare two different revisions by enabling the ‘Compare any two revisions’ option …

'Compare any two revisions' check box

(’Compare any two revisions’ option)

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

Compare two different post revisions independently

(Compare different revisions independently)

Choose the saved version you would like restored and click the ‘Restore This Revision’ button …

'Restore This Revision'

(‘Restore This Revision’ button)

To cancel the operation and return to the content editor without restoring a revision, click the title link …

Click the post title link to exit

(Click the post title to return)

You can also exit the Revisions feature by clicking Return to editor

Click to return to content editor

(Click to return to post editor)

WordPress Post Revisions Management – Plugins And 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 edits to code in WordPress files. If you are concerned 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 Section – The Revisions Box

As soon as you save your posts/pages, WordPress begins to store new revisions in its database. These are displayed in a Revisions list at the bottom of the post or page …

The WordPress post revisions list

(Post Editor section – The WordPress post revisions box)

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

Post Editor - Screen Options tab

(Post Editor – Screen Options tab)

Make sure that the option next to ‘Revisions’ in the Boxes section is ticked …

Post Editor: Screen Options tab - Revisions

(Screen Options tab – Revisions)

You should now see the Revisions box below your content. Click any of the links to bring up the Compare Revisions feature panel with related data for the selected item …

Revisions Box

(Revisions Box)

Managing Revisions Using Plugins

Autosave and revisions are no doubt functions that help make work more efficient. If you write and edit often, however, the revisions can start building up. This can significantly increase the size of your WordPress database, so it’s important to be able to manage your revisions.

Your database could be storing lots of unnecessary data

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

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

Fortunately, there are a number of WordPress plugins to help you control and manage 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 restore earlier post/page revisions.

Using WP Autosave & Page/Post Revisions

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"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)

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