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.

How To Use WordPress Revisions And Autosave

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where, after spending much effort editing a post, something happens and you suddenly find that you have lost all of your hard work because you forgot to hit the ‘Save’ button as you went along?

If this ever happens, there’s no need to feel alarmed! WordPress comes with a powerful autosave and content recovery management system that:

  • Automatically saves earlier versions of your posts,
  • Gets your page or post back if something happens to your computer or browser while you’re working, and,
  • Lets you recover an older draft if you changed the content in an article.

In this tutorial, we show you how to use the autosave and content recovery management system of WordPress to restore content in your pages and posts.

Content Recovery And Autosave Function Of WordPress: Tutorial

Usually, when you update a post or page, you will see a confirmation message like the one below …

Post updated notice

(Edit Post – Post updated successfully!)

WordPress post revisions ensure that your content is saved periodically, allowing you to undo changes to your drafts and restore older post revisions when something unexpected happens, for instance:

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

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

Are you sure you want to do this?

(WordPress Post Save Error Message)

If 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 edit screen displaying an older version of your post, minus any changes that you recently made.

This is where WordPress ‘autosave’ can help prevent a disaster.

The Autosave Feature

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

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


Always make a backup of your website before making any modifications to important website files.

If you are concerned about editing files inside your web server, then get in touch. We’ll be glad to help you.

If you have been working on your post for a while and something happens (e.g. your internet connection is temporarily disconnected), you may see a notification like this when you go back to editing your post …

Edit Post - Autosave notification

(Autosave notification)

Click on the link to view the autosave …

Click link to view the autosave

(View the autosave)

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

Revisions interface

(Revisions page)

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

WordPress offers one-click restore

(WordPress offers one-click restore)

The content you were editing will be recovered using autosave …

Autosave restores your latest post

(Post content recovered with Autosave)

WordPress Autosave – Additional Notes

Content Recovery – Session Expired

Sometimes, your login session will simply expire …

Session expired notice

(Session expired)

If your login session expires, WordPress remembers where you were, so when you log in again, you can continue working from where you left off …

Session expired notice - log in again to continue working

(Session expired notice)

WordPress also warns you if the backup of the post you are currently working on is different from the version you see in the content editor and gives you the opportunity to restore the saved backup.

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

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

Click Restore the backup

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

(Restore backup of post saved in browser)

WordPress recovers and restores your content from the browser backup …

Post restored from browser backup

(Post recovered 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 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 …

Content recovery after losing internet connection

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

Revision Control

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 the WordPress database.

Significant enhancements were made to the WordPress content revision control system after v. 3.6.

The new revision system also added a new option to the Publish box called Revisions, which automatically calculates how many revisions you have made. and lets you bring up the ‘Revisions’ screen by clicking on the ‘Browse’ link …

Publish Box - Revisions

(Publish – Revisions)

The Revisions section appears in your browser …

Revisions interface

(Compare Revisions feature)

Practical Tip

Note: This function works on Pages and Posts.

How To Compare Revisions

A Revision Slider displays at the top of the screen, allowing you to move through different saved revisions. The more revisions you have saved, the more segmented the slider will be …

The more revisions you have saved, the more revision segments you will see displayed in the slider

(The more revisions, the longer the slider)

When you edit content and update pages or posts, your revisions appear in the revision slider marked in black, along with the save interval, time, and date of the post revision …

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 post/page revision …

Autosave revision slider

(Autosave revision slider)

Post/Page Revision Control – Using The Revision Slider

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

Move the button to the right or left of the revision slider

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

There are also buttons to assist with navigation.

Click ‘Previous’ to view earlier revisions …

Compare Revisions - 'Previous' button

(Click ‘Previous’ to browse earlier revisions)

Click ‘Next’ to compare later revisions …

Compare Revisions - 'Next' button

(Click ‘Next’ to view later post revisions)

In addition to comparing adjacent post/page revisions, WordPress lets you compare different revisions by checking ‘Compare any two revisions’ …

Compare any two revisions

(’Compare any two revisions’ checkbox)

You can adjust the slider buttons to compare any two post revisions …

Compare any 2 post revisions

(Compare different post revisions independently)

Find the version you would like to restore and click Restore This Revision

'Restore This Revision'

(Click to restore post revision)

To cancel the operation and go back to the post or page you’re working on, click on the title link of your post or page …

Click the title link to return

(Click on the post title link to go back)

You can also leave the Revisions feature without making any changes by clicking Return to editor

'Return to editor'

(’Return to editor’)

WordPress Revisions – Plugins

As mentioned earlier, there are some changes you can make to the WordPress revisions feature such as changing the autosave interval or even disabling the feature altogether, but these usually involve making modifications to code in WordPress files. If you don’t feel comfortable editing code, then contact your web host or get professional assistance.

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

Post Editor Screen – Viewing The Revisions Box

As soon as you edit and update a page or post, WordPress begins to store new revisions for the content in its database. These appear in a Revisions list below your post or page …

Post Editor screen - The Post revisions box

(The WordPress post revisions list – Post Editor section)

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

Screen Options tab

(Screen Options tab)

Enable the box for ‘Revisions’ in the Boxes section …

Post Editor: Screen Options tab - Revisions

(Post Editor: Screen Options tab – Revisions)

You will now see the Revisions list below the editor section. Clicking a link will bring up the Revisions panel with saved data for that selected item …

Post Editor Screen: Revisions Box

(Revisions Box)

Revision Management WordPress Plugins

Autosave and post revisions are no doubt functions that 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 bloat the size of your WordPress database, so it’s important to also be able to manage your revisions.

Your WordPress database could be storing lots of unnecessary data

(Your database could be storing lots of unnecessary data)

For example, if there are 250 posts published on your site with an average of 10 revisions each your database could be storing up to 2,500 copies of old data. If your post is approximately 100KB data, then with 2,500 revisions of that post, the total space wasted is about 250MB.

The good news is that there are some great free plugins for WordPress that can 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 versions of your WordPress pages or posts.

WordPress Post Recovery And Autosave


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