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 Autosave And Post Revisions Feature

Have you ever experienced this situation? After spending much time and effort editing a post, something happens and you suddenly find that all of your hard work is now lost because you forgot to hit the ‘Save’ button as you went along?

If this happens, don’t feel alarmed! WordPress has a built-in autosave and revision management system that:

  • Helps you prevent losing your work if you forget to save,
  • Can get your page or post content back if something happens to your browser or computer while you’re working, and,
  • Lets you restore an older version if you’re unhappy with the content of your article.

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

How To Use The Autosave & Post Recovery Feature Of WordPress: Step-By-Step Tutorial

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

Edit Post - Post updated notice

(Edit Post – Post updated notice)

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

  • Your wi-fi gets temporarily disconnected,
  • Your browser freezes up,
  • Power outages,
  • Other unknown reasons temporarily prevent you from saving or publishing your post, etc.

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

Failure Notice - WordPress

(WordPress Post Save Error Message)

When you a message that says Are you sure you want to do this? Please try again displays 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 recent changes.

This is where the autosave function of WordPress really comes in handy.

Autosave

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

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

Warning

We strongly recommend making a backup of your data and files before making any modifications to important website files.

If you feel nervous about editing files inside your server, then contact us for assistance.

If you have been working on your post for a while and something happens (e.g. your internet connection temporarily drops), a notification like this may come up when you return to editing your post …

Autosave notification

(Autosave notice)

Click on the ‘View the autosave’ link …

Edit Post - 'View the autosave'

(View the autosave)

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

Revisions interface

(Compare Revisions section)

Click ‘Restore This Autosave’ …

WordPress offers one-click post/page recovery

(WordPress offers one-click recovery of autosaved content)

The content you were editing will be recovered using autosave …

Autosave restores the content of your latest post revision

(Post restored from Autosave)

WordPress Autosave – Additional Information

Content Recovery – Session Expired

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

Session expired

(Session expired notice)

If you get logged out, WordPress remembers where you were, so if you login again, you can 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 different from the version showing in the content editor and gives you the opportunity to restore the autosaved backup version.

Edit Post - Restore backup

(Edit Post – Restore backup of post saved in browser)

Click on ‘Restore the backup’ …

Restore backup

(Browser backup)

WordPress recovers the content from the browser backup. You can also revert to your previous post content by clicking ‘Undo’ …

Your post has been restored!

(Post recovered successfully 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 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

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

Post Revisions – What Is It?

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

After WP 3.6, WordPress made significant enhancements to its content revision management function interface.

The new revision system now includes new settings in the Post/Page Publish box called Revisions. This lets you know at a glance how many revisions you have made to your page/post. Click the ‘Browse’ link to bring up the ‘Revisions’ section …

WordPress keeps a record of all changes

(WordPress records all changes)

The Compare Revisions area comes up …

Revisions page

(Revisions feature)

Useful Tip

Note: This function is available for Posts and Pages.

How To Compare Revisions – Revision Slider

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

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

(The more revisions, the longer the slider)

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

Revision marker

(Revision slider)

When WordPress automatically saves posts or pages, your revisions show up in the revision slider in red, along with the save interval, time, and date of the revision …

Autosave revision slider

(Revision slider – autosave)

How To Compare Revisions – Navigation Options

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

Move the revision slider to the right or left

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

There are also buttons to help you navigate between revisions.

Click ‘Previous’ to review past revisions …

Click 'Previous' to view earlier revisions

(Compare Revisions – ‘Previous’ button)

Click ‘Next’ to inspect later revisions …

Click 'Next' to view later post revisions

(Compare Revisions – ‘Next’ button)

In addition to comparing sequential post revisions, you can select and compare different revisions by checking the ‘Compare any two revisions’ box …

'Compare any two revisions' box

(’Compare any two revisions’ option)

Adjust the buttons independently to compare any two saved revisions …

Compare any two post revisions

(Compare any 2 post revisions)

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

'Restore This Revision' button

(Click to restore selected post revision)

To cancel the operation and exit, click the title link of your page or post …

Click the post title link to return to the editor

(Click on the post title to exit)

You can also leave the Revisions screen by clicking the ‘Return to editor’ link …

'Return to editor'

(’Return to editor’)

WordPress Revisions – Additional Information

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 generally require modifying code in core WordPress files. If you are concerned about working with 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 editing code.

WordPress Revisions Box – Post Editor Section

As soon as you save posts and pages, WordPress begins to store new revisions of your content in its database. These show up in a Revisions section at the bottom of the content editor …

Post Editor section - View the revisions list

(WordPress post revisions list – Post Editor section)

If the Revisions area isn’t visible, click the Screen Options  tab at the top right-hand corner of your screen …

Post Editor - Screen Options tab

(Screen Options tab)

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

Screen Options tab - Revisions

(Screen Options tab – Revisions)

You should now see the Revisions box under your content. Clicking any of the links will bring up the Compare Revisions page with data for the selected item …

Revisions Box

(Post Editor Screen: Revisions Box)

Managing Post Revisions – WordPress Plugins

Having autosave and revisions is undoubtedly a good thing. If you write and edit a lot of content, however, the number of revisions can start to build up. This can significantly increase the size of your WordPress database, so it’s important to also be able to manage your revisions.

Post revisions can really add up after a while

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

For example, if you have 300 posts published on your site and each post has an average of 20 revisions your WordPress database could be storing an extra 6,000 copies of unnecessary data. If your post is approximately 100KB data, then with 6,000 revisions, the total space wasted is about 600MB.

Fortunately, there are various 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 older page and post revisions.

How To Use The Autosave & Post Recovery Feature Of WordPress

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