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 Autosave & Post Recovery Feature Of WordPress

Have you ever experienced a situation where, after investing a great deal of time editing an article, something unexpected happens and you suddenly find that you have lost all of your hard work because you did not remember to save it?

If this ever happens, then worry not! WordPress comes with a powerful autosave and content revision function that:

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

In this step-by-step tutorial, you will learn how to use the autosave and content recovery system of WordPress to restore your pages and posts.

Using The Autosave & Post Recovery Feature Of WordPress: Step-By-Step Tutorial

Typically, after updating a post or page, you will see a notice like this …

Post updated successfully!

(Post updated successfully!)

WordPress post revisions ensure that your content is saved periodically, allowing you to restore earlier revisions of your posts if something unexpected happens, for example:

  • The internet falls down,
  • Your internet browser crashes,
  • You experience a power outage,
  • A number of other reasons temporarily prevent you from publishing a post, etc.

When you try to save your work, a ‘WordPress Failure Notice’ 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 the ‘Please try again’ link, you will normally be taken back to a post or page editing screen displaying an earlier version of your post, minus any changes that you recently made.

This is where ’autosave’ can be really handy.

WordPress Autosave

The autosave function is automatically enabled for all WordPress pages and posts, but this does not overwrite any content that has already been published.

By default, posts are autosaved to the database every sixty seconds. This time interval can be changed by modifying code in your wp-config.php file.

Warning

Always make a full backup of your site files and database before making any changes to important website files.

If you are not comfortable editing files inside your web server, then contact us for help.

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

Edit Post - Autosave notification

(Autosave notification)

Click on the link to view the autosave …

View the autosave

(’View the autosave’ link)

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

Revisions screen

(Compare Revisions area)

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

WordPress offers one-click post recovery

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

Your content will be restored from autosave …

Autosave restores your latest post revision

(Autosave restores the content of your latest post revision)

Autosave – Additional Notes

Content Recovery – Session Expired

Sometimes, a ‘Session expired’ message will appear …

WordPress - session expired notice

(Session expired notice)

If you get logged out, WordPress remembers where you were, so when you login again, you can pick up where you left off …

Session expired notice - log in again to continue working

(Session expired notice – log in again to continue working)

WordPress also warns you if the backup of the post you are looking at is different from the version displayed in the content editor and gives you the opportunity to restore your saved version.

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

(Edit Post – Restore post from browser backup)

Click on ‘Restore the backup’ …

Browser backup

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

Your content will be restored from the browser backup. You can also revert to your previous post content by clicking the ‘Undo’ link …

Post recovered from browser backup

(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 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 losing internet connection

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

Revision Control Function

Post Revisions are a feature that was introduced to WordPress in version 2.6. Whenever a post or a page is saved in WordPress, a revision of that post is automatically created and stored in your WP database.

After WordPress 3.6, WordPress made significant improvements to its post/page revision management function.

The new WordPress revision system included a new option to the Post/Page Publish box called Revisions, which automatically calculates how many revisions you have made. Click the ‘Browse’ link to access the ‘Compare Revisions’ feature panel …

Publish - Revisions

(WordPress saves all changes made)

The Revisions section displays in your browser …

Compare Revisions screen

(Compare Revisions section)

Useful Tip

Note: The revision control system is available on both Pages and Posts.

Comparing Revisions

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

The more revisions, the longer the slider

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

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

Revision

(Revision)

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

Autosave revision slider

(Autosave revision)

Post Revision Control – Options

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

Move the revision slider button to the left or right

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

There are also buttons to assist you when comparing each revision.

Click ‘Previous’ to compare past versions …

Click 'Previous' to view earlier post revisions

(Compare Revisions – ‘Previous’ button)

Click ‘Next’ to review later versions …

Click 'Next' to view later revisions

(Click ‘Next’ to view later post revisions)

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

'Compare any two revisions' option

(Compare any two revisions)

This lets you adjust two sliders independently to compare any two revisions …

Compare two different post revisions

(Compare any two revisions)

Select the version you would like to restore and click the ‘Restore This Revision’ button …

'Restore This Revision' button

(‘Restore This Revision’ button)

To exit and return to the post or page you’re working on, click the title link …

Click on the post title to go back

(Click on the post title link to exit)

You can also exit the Revisions screen without making any changes by clicking the ‘Return to editor’ link …

'Return to editor'

(’Return to editor’)

WordPress Post Revisions – Additional Notes

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 involve making modifications to server files. If editing files inside your server unnerves you, then contact your web host or get professional assistance.

Let’s focus, then, on some additional areas of WordPress post revisions that don’t require editing code.

The Post Revisions List

As soon as you create, edit, and update pages and posts, WordPress begins to store new post revisions in its database. These appear in a Revisions box at the bottom of your post or page …

Post Editor section - View the post revisions box

(Post Editor section – Viewing the Revisions list)

If you can’t see the Revisions box, click on the Screen Options  tab near the top of your screen …

Screen Options tab

(Post Editor – Screen Options tab)

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

Screen Options tab - Revisions

(Screen Options tab – Revisions)

You should now see the Revisions box displayed under the editor section. Click any link to bring up the Revisions page …

Revisions Box

(Post Editor Screen: Revisions Box)

Post/Page Revision Management Using Plugins

Having access to effective workflow functions like 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 grow 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

(Post revisions can really add up after a while)

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

The good news is that there are a few great 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 revisions.

How To Use WordPress Revisions & Autosave

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