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 …

WP Autosave & Post/Page Revisions

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where, after investing a great deal of time and effort composing a new blog post post, something goes wrong and you suddenly find that you have lost all of your hard work because you did not remember to hit the ‘Save’ button as you went along?

If this happens and you use WordPress, then worry not! WordPress comes with a powerful autosave and content recovery system that:

  • Automatically saves earlier versions of your posts,
  • Gets your page or post 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.

In this step-by-step tutorial, we will show you how to use the WordPress autosave and post revision function to easily recover and restore your pages and posts.

The WordPress Autosave Post Revisions Feature: Tutorial

Generally, when you save a page or post, a notice like this will display …

Post updated successfully!

(Edit Post – Post updated notice)

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

  • The internet goes down,
  • Your internet browser freezes up and crashes,
  • A power outage occurs,
  • etc.

If this happens and you try to save your work, you may end up seeing a message like this instead …

Failure Notice - WordPress

(WordPress Failure Notice)

When you see a message that says Are you sure you want to do this? Please try again displayed and click on the ‘Please try again’ link, you will normally return to an editing screen displaying a previous version of your post, minus any recent changes.

This is where the built-in WordPress autosave function becomes useful.

The Autosave Function Of WordPress

Autosaves are stored as a special type of revision in your WordPress database so they will not overwrite the post or page you are working on.

By default, WordPress autosaves your post in your WordPress database every 60 seconds. This interval can be changed by adding code to your wp-config.php file.


Always make a full backup of your data and files before making any modifications to website files.

If you are not comfortable editing files inside your server, then contact us. We’ll be glad to assist you.

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

Autosave notification

(Autosave notification)

Click on ‘View the autosave’ …

Click to view the autosave

(Click link to view the autosave)

The Revisions area appears, allowing you to recover a previously saved version of your article …

Revisions page

(Compare Revisions panel)

Click Restore This Autosave

WordPress offers one-click recovery of autosaved content

(WordPress offers one-click post/page recovery)

Autosave recovers the content you were editing …

Post content recovered with Autosave

(Autosave restores your latest post revision)

Autosave – Additional Notes

Content Recovery – Session Expired

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

Session expired notice

(Session expired)

If your login session expires, WordPress remembers where you were, so when you login again, you can pick up where you left off …

Session expired notice

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

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 saved backup version.

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

(Restore post backup)

Click on ‘Restore the backup’ …

Edit Post - Restore post backup

(Browser backup)

Your content will be recovered and restored successfully from the browser backup …

Your post is now restored!

(Your post is now restored!)

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 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

(Recover content after loss of internet connection. Source: WordPress 4.6 updates)

WordPress Post Revisions Feature – What Is It?

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

WordPress overhauled its post revision control function interface in version 3.6.

The new revision system now includes new settings in the Publish box called Revisions, which automatically calculates how many revisions you have made. and lets you bring up the ‘Revisions’ screen by clicking the ‘Browse’ link …

Publish Box - Revisions

(WordPress automatically keeps track of all changes you make)

The Revisions section loads on your screen …

Revisions page

(Revisions screen)

Useful Tip

Note: This feature is available for WordPress Posts and Pages.

Comparing Revisions – Revision Slider

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

The more revisions, the longer the slider

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

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

Revision slider

(Revision marker)

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

Revision slider - autosave

(Autosave revision)

Revision Control – Options

You can navigate between different revisions by moving the revision slider right (newer) or left (older) …

Move the revision slider button to the right or left

(Move the revision slider to the right or left)

There are also buttons to help you compare the revisions.

Click ‘Previous’ to view earlier post revisions …

Click 'Previous' to view earlier post revisions

(Click ‘Previous’ to browse previous revisions)

Click ‘Next’ to review more recent revisions …

Compare Revisions - 'Next' button

(Click ‘Next’ to browse newer revisions)

You can also select and compare two different revisions by checking ‘Compare any two revisions’ …

'Compare any two revisions' checkbox

(’Compare any two revisions’ checkbox)

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

Compare any two post revisions independently

(Compare different revisions)

Select the revision you would like restored and click Restore This Revision

'Restore This Revision' button

(’Restore This Revision’)

To cancel the operation and exit without making any changes, click on the post/page title link …

Click on the title link to go back

(Click on the post title link to return to the editor)

You can also exit without making any changes by clicking Return to editor

Compare Revisions - return to post editor

(’Return to editor’)

WordPress Revisions – Plugins & Additional Info

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 typically involve editing WordPress files. If editing code makes you feel a little nervous, then contact your web host or get professional assistance.

Let’s focus, then, on some additional aspects of WordPress revisions that don’t require messing around with code.

Post Revisions Box – Post Editor Screen

As soon as you edit and save posts and pages, WordPress begins to store new post revisions in its database. These appear in a Revisions list below the post editor …

Viewing the post revisions list

(Revisions box – Post Editor screen)

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

Screen Options tab

(Screen Options tab)

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

Post Editor: Screen Options tab - Revisions

(Screen Options tab – Revisions)

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

Revisions Box

(Revisions Box)

Managing Revisions Using Plugins

Having autosave and automatic revisions is undoubtedly very useful. If you write and edit extensively, however, over time the number of revisions can start building up. This can significantly bloat the size of your WordPress database, so it’s important 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 there are 50 posts on your site with an average of 10 revisions each you could be storing up to 1,000 copies of old data. If your post averages 100KB data, then with 1,000 revisions of that post, the total database space wasted is about 100MB.

The good news is that there are some really great (and free) WordPress plugins that can 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 older revisions of your WordPress pages and posts.

WP Autosave & Page/Post Recovery


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