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 …

Revisions And Autosave Function Of WordPress

Have you ever found yourself in this situation? After spending a great deal of time and effort editing a blog post, something goes wrong and you suddenly find that all of your hard work is lost because you didn’t hit the ‘Save’ button as you went along?

If this ever happens, don’t feel alarmed! WordPress comes with a powerful autosave and revision function that:

  • Helps you prevent losing your work if you forget to save,
  • Can get your page or post content back if your browser crashes while you’re working, and,
  • Lets you recover an earlier draft if you’re unhappy with the content in an article.

This tutorial explains how to use the built-in WordPress autosave and post revision management system to automatically recover and restore your pages and posts while working on your content.

How To Use The Post Revisions Function Of WordPress: Step-By-Step Tutorial

Usually, when you update a post or page, a confirmation notice like this will display …

Edit Post - Post updated notification

(Edit Post – Post updated notice)

Sometimes things can and will go wrong, however. For example:

  • Your internet connection goes down,
  • Your browser freezes up,
  • You experience a temporary power outage,
  • etc.

If 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

(WordPress Post Save Error Message)

When you a message that says “Are you sure you want to do this? Please try again” pops up on your screen and you click on the ‘Please try again’ link, you will normally be taken back to a screen displaying an older version of your post, minus any changes that you recently made.

This is where ’autosave’ becomes really handy.

The Autosave Feature

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

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

Warning

Always make a backup of your website before updating important website files.

If you are not confident editing files inside your web server, feel free to contact us for assistance.

If you have been working on your edits for a while and something happens (e.g. your wireless connection temporarily drops), a There is an autosave of this post …’ warning like this may come up when you get back to your post or page …

Autosave notification

(Edit Post – Autosave notice)

Click on the ‘View the autosave’ link …

Click to view the autosave

(’View the autosave’)

You will be taken to a page where an autosaved version of your post can be restored …

Compare Revisions area

(Compare Revisions screen)

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

WordPress offers one-click post/page recovery of autosaved content

(WordPress offers one-click post/page recovery of autosaved content)

Autosave recovers the content you were previously editing …

Post revision restored from Autosave

(Post content restored from Autosave)

Autosave – Additional Notes

Content Recovery – Session Expired

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

Session expired

(Session expired)

If your login session expires, WordPress remembers where you were. 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 looking at is different from the version displayed in the content editor and gives you the opportunity to restore the saved version.

Restore backup of post from browser

(Edit Post – Restore post from browser backup)

Click 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.’ warning)

The content will be restored from your browser backup. Click the ‘Undo’ link to revert to your previous post content …

Your post is now restored!

(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 v. 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 losing internet connection. Source: WordPress 4.6 updates)

Post Revisions Feature – What Is It?

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

Significant improvements were made to the WordPress revision control feature interface after WP version 3.6.

The new WordPress revision system included a new option to the Page/Post Publish box called Revisions. This allows you to know at a glance how many revisions you have made to your page/post. and lets you quickly view the ‘Revisions’ page by clicking on the ‘Browse’ link …

Publish Box - Revisions

(WordPress saves all changes made to your posts)

The Revisions panel comes up …

Compare Revisions page

(Revisions feature)

Useful Tip

Note: This function is available on both Pages and Posts.

Comparing Revisions – Revision Slider

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

The more revisions you have saved, the more segmented the slider will be

(The more revisions, the longer the slider)

Revisions created by editing content and updating your page or post show up in the slider highlighted in black, with the save interval, time, and date of the post revision …

Revision marker

(Revision slider)

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

Autosave

(Autosave marker)

Comparing Revisions – How to Use The Revision Slider

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

Move the revision slider to the left or right

(Move the revision slider to the left or right)

There are also buttons to help you navigate between revisions.

Click ‘Previous’ to scroll back through past post revisions …

Click 'Previous' to view previous revisions

(Compare Revisions – ‘Previous’ button)

Click ‘Next’ to inspect more recent revisions …

Click 'Next' to view newer revisions

(Click ‘Next’ to browse later revisions)

You can also select and compare different revisions by selecting the ‘Compare any two revisions’ check box …

Compare any two revisions

(Compare any two revisions)

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

Compare different revisions independently

(Compare 2 different revisions)

When you find the revision you want restored, click Restore This Revision

'Restore This Revision' button

(’Restore This Revision’)

To cancel the operation and return to the content editor without restoring a revision, click the title link of your post or page …

Click the title link to return

(Click on the title of your post to go back to the editor)

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

'Return to editor'

(Click to return to post editor)

WordPress Revisions – Plugins

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 editing code. If you are worried about working with code, then contact your web host or get professional assistance.

Let’s focus, then, on some additional aspects of WordPress revisions control that don’t require coding skills.

Post Revisions List – Post Editor Section

As soon as you edit and update posts and pages, WordPress begins to store new post revisions in its database. These are displayed in a Revisions list at the bottom of the content editor …

Post Editor screen - View the WordPress post revisions box

(View the post revisions list)

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

Post Editor - Screen Options tab

(Screen Options tab)

Make sure that the box next to ‘Revisions’ in the Boxes section is enabled …

Post Editor: Screen Options tab - Revisions

(Post Editor: Screen Options tab – Revisions)

You should now see the Revisions list under your content. Clicking a link will bring up the Revisions feature panel …

Revisions Box

(Revisions Box)

Managing Revisions – WordPress Plugins

Having autosave and automatic revisions is something that can help make work more efficient. If you write a lot of content, however, after a while the revisions can start building up. This can significantly grow the size of your WordPress database, so it’s important to also be able to manage your revisions.

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

(Post revisions can really add up after a while)

For example, if you have 100 posts on your site and each post has 15 revisions your WordPress database could be storing an extra 1,500 copies of unnecessary data. If your post is approximately 100KB data, then with 1,500 revisions, the total database space wasted is about 150MB.

Fortunately, there are several WordPress plugins 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 versions of your WordPress pages or posts.

How To Use The Post Recovery Function Of WordPress

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"If you're new to WordPress, this can stand on its own as a training course and will stay with you as you progress from beginner to advanced and even guru status." - Bruce (Columbus, Ohio)

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