Have you ever been in a situation where, after spending much time editing a post, something crashes and you suddenly find that you have lost all of your hard work because you didn’t save it?
If this happens and you use WordPress, then worry not! WordPress has a powerful built-in autosave and post revision function that:
- Automatically saves 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 restore an earlier version if you changed the content in an article.
In this step-by-step tutorial, you will learn how to use the built-in WordPress autosave and post revision function to automatically recover content in your pages and posts.
Using WordPress Autosave & Content Recovery: Step-By-Step Tutorial
Usually, whenever you edit and update a page or post, a message like this will display …
(Post updated notice)
WordPress autosave and post revisions ensure that your content is saved periodically, allowing you to undo changes to your drafts and recover earlier post revisions if an unlikely event should happen, for instance:
- Your wireless connection is down,
- Your web browser freezes up,
- You’re struck by a power outage,
- A number of other reasons temporarily prevent you from saving a post, etc.
When this happens and you try to save your work, a ‘WordPress Failure Notice’ like this may end up being displayed instead …
(Failure Notice – WordPress)
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 screen displaying a previous version of your post, minus any recent changes.
This is where WordPress ‘autosave’ really comes in handy.
Autosaves are stored as a special kind of revision in the site’s database so they won’t overwrite the post you are working on.
By default, posts are autosaved to your database every sixty seconds. This interval can be changed by adding code to your wp-config.php file.
Always make a backup of your site files and database before making any changes to important website files.
If you feel hesitant about editing code, feel free to get in touch. We’ll be glad to assist you.
If you were working 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’ message like this may come up when you get back to your post …
(Edit Post – Autosave notification)
Click on the link to view the autosave …
You will be taken to a revision page where an autosaved version of your post can be recovered …
(Compare Revisions feature)
WordPress offers one-click post/page recovery of autosaved content. Click ‘Restore This Autosave’ …
(WordPress offers one-click restore)
Autosave recovers the content you were previously working on …
(Autosave restores your post)
Autosave – Additional Notes
Content Recovery – Session Expired
Sometimes, your login session will simply expire …
If you get logged out, WordPress remembers where you were. Login again and continue working from where you left off …
(Session expired notice)
WordPress also warns you if the backup of the post you are looking at is different from the version showing in the content editor and gives you the opportunity to restore the saved backup version.
(Edit Post – Restore post from browser backup)
Click on ‘Restore the backup’ …
WordPress recovers your content from your browser backup. Click the ‘Undo’ link to revert to the previous version of your content …
(Post restored successfully 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)
Another improvement made after 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 …
(Content recovery after loss of internet connection. Source: WordPress 4.6 updates)
WordPress Post Revision Control System
Post Revisions are a feature that was introduced to WordPress in v. 2.6. Whenever you saves a page or post, a revision is automatically created and stored in your WP database.
WordPress overhauled its content revision control system interface from WP v. 3.6.
The new WordPress revision system now includes a new option to the Publish box called Revisions. This allows you to immediately know how many revisions you have made to your post/page. Click the ‘Browse’ link to access the ‘Revisions’ work screen …
(Publish – Revisions)
The Revisions work area displays on your screen …
Note: This feature works the same way on both Pages and Posts.
How To Compare Revisions – Revision Slider
When you compare page or post 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 segmented the slider will be …
(The more revisions, the longer the slider)
Revisions created by editing content and updating pages or posts show up in the revision slider highlighted in black, along with the save interval, time, and date of the post revision …
Revisions saved automatically by WordPress show up in the slider highlighted in red, along with the save interval, time, and date of the revision …
Revision Control – Navigation Options
You can navigate between different revisions by moving the revision slider button left (older) or right (newer) …
(Move the revision slider button to the left or right)
There are also buttons to assist with navigation.
Click ‘Previous’ to scroll back through earlier post revisions …
(Click ‘Previous’ to browse earlier post revisions)
Click ‘Next’ to view more recent revisions …
(Click ‘Next’ to view more recent post revisions)
You can also compare revisions by checking the ‘Compare any two revisions’ option …
(Compare any two revisions)
You can adjust the slider buttons independently to compare any two saved revisions …
(Compare any 2 post revisions)
When you find the version you want to restore, click the ‘Restore This Revision’ button …
(Click to restore post revision)
To cancel the operation and go back to the content editor without restoring a revision, click the post or page title link …
(Click the post title link to return)
You can also exit by clicking the ‘Return to editor’ link …
(Click to return to editor)
WordPress Post Revisions Function – 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 usually require making modifications to code. If you feel hesitant about editing files inside your web 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 messing around with code.
View The WordPress Revisions List – Post Editor Screen
As soon as you save pages and posts, WordPress begins to store new post revisions in its database. These are displayed in a Revisions section at the bottom of your page editor …
(Post Editor section – The WordPress revisions list)
If the Revisions box isn’t visible in the Post editor screen, click on the Screen Options tab near the top of the screen …
(Post Editor – Screen Options tab)
Make sure that the option for ‘Revisions’ in the Boxes section is enabled …
(Post Editor: Screen Options tab – Revisions)
You will now see the Revisions box below the editor section. Clicking a link will bring up the Compare Revisions screen …
Revision Management Plugins
Autosave and post revisions are no doubt functions that help create a more effective workflow. If you write and edit extensively, however, after a while the number of revisions can start building up. This can significantly grow the size of your WordPress database, so it’s important to be able to manage your revisions.
(As post revisions accumulate, your database could be storing lots of unnecessary data)
For example, if there are 10 posts on your site and each post has 5 revisions you could be storing an extra 500 copies of unnecessary data. If your post is approximately 100KB data, then with 500 revisions, the total database space wasted is about 50MB.
The good news is that there are some really great (and free) plugins for WordPress to help you manage 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 saved page/post revisions.
"Wow! I never knew there's so much to learn about WordPress! I bought one of the WordPress for Dummies three years ago, such authors need to be on this course!" - Rich Law, Create A Blog Now