Have you ever found yourself in a situation where, after spending a great deal of effort editing a blog post, something happens and you suddenly find that all of your hard work is lost because you didn’t hit the ‘Save’ button as you went along?
If this happens, don’t worry! WordPress comes with a powerful autosave and content recovery function that:
- Helps to prevent losing your work if you forget to save,
- Gets your page or post content back if your web browser crashes while you’re working, and,
- Lets you restore an earlier draft if you’ve changed the content in your article.
This step-by-step tutorial explains how to use the WordPress autosave and revision feature to automatically restore content in your pages and posts.
WordPress Revisions And Autosave: Tutorial
Generally, after saving a post or page, you will see a notice like the one shown in the example below …
(Edit Post – Post updated notice)
WordPress autosave and post revisions ensure that your content is saved periodically, allowing you to restore earlier post revisions when something unexpected should happen, for example:
- The internet falls down,
- Your internet browser freezes up,
- You experience a power outage,
When you try to save your work, you may see a ‘WordPress Failure Notice’ like this instead …
(WordPress Post Save Error Message)
When you see the message “Are you sure you want to do this? Please try again” displayed and click on ‘Please try again’, you will normally go back to a screen displaying an older version of your post, minus any changes that you recently made.
This is where ’autosave’ can really save you time.
The autosave function is automatically enabled for all WordPress pages and posts, but this does not overwrite any published content.
By default, posts are autosaved to your database every 60 seconds. This time interval can be changed by modifying code in your wp-config.php file.
We recommend making a complete backup of your data and files before modifying important website files.
If you don’t feel comfortable editing files inside your web server, feel free to contact us. We’ll be glad to assist you.
If you were working on your edits for a while and something happens (e.g. your internet connection temporarily drops), you may see a notice like this when you get back to editing your post …
Click on the link to view the autosave …
(’View the autosave’)
The Compare Revisions section appears, allowing you to restore a previously saved version of your post …
WordPress offers one-click restore of autosaved content. Click the ‘Restore This Autosave’ button …
(WordPress offers one-click restore of autosaved content)
The content you were previously editing will be recovered using autosave …
(Autosave restores the content of your latest post revision)
Autosave – Additional Notes
Content Recovery – Session Expired
Sometimes, your login session will simply expire …
(Session expired notice)
If you get logged out, WordPress remembers where you were. This allows you to log in again and pick up where you left off …
(Session expired notice – log in again to continue working)
WordPress also warns you if the backup of the post you are currently looking at is different from the version you see in the content editor and gives you the opportunity to restore the autosaved version.
(Restore post from browser backup)
Click on ‘Restore the backup’ …
(’The backup of this post in your browser is different from the version below. Restore the backup.’ notice)
WordPress recovers and restores your post from the browser backup. Click ‘Undo’ to undo this operation …
(Post restored 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 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 losing internet connection. Source: WordPress 4.6 updates)
What Is The Post Revisions Feature?
The Post Revisions feature was introduced to WordPress in v. 2.6. Whenever a post or a page is saved in WordPress, a revision is automatically created and stored in the WP database.
Significant enhancements were made to the post revision control system after WP 3.6.
The new revision system now includes a new option to the Post/Page Publish box called Revisions. This allows you to know at a glance how many revisions you have made. and allows you to easily access the ‘Revisions’ section by clicking on the ‘Browse’ link …
(Publish – Revisions)
The Compare Revisions panel loads on your screen …
(Compare Revisions section)
Note: The revision control feature is available on Posts and Pages.
A Revision Slider allows you to move through your revisions. The more revisions you have, the longer the slider will be …
(The more revisions, the longer the slider)
Revisions created by editing content and updating your post or page appear in the slider in black, 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 slider – autosave)
Comparing Revisions – Navigation Options
You can navigate between post revisions by moving the slider button right (newer) or left (older) …
(Move the revision slider to the left or right)
There are also buttons to assist with navigation.
Click ‘Previous’ to scroll back through earlier revisions …
(Click ‘Previous’ to browse older revisions)
Click ‘Next’ to compare newer versions …
(Compare Revisions – ‘Next’ button)
As well as comparing adjacent revisions, the feature lets you select and compare any two revisions side by side by enabling the ‘Compare any two revisions’ box …
(Compare any two revisions)
You can adjust the slider buttons independently to compare any two revisions …
(Compare different post revisions)
Find the version you would like restored and click the ‘Restore This Revision’ button …
(’Restore This Revision’)
To exit, click on the post or page title link …
(Click on the post title link to exit)
You can also exit by clicking Return to editor …
(Click to return to content editor)
WordPress Post Revisions Feature – Additional Notes
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 typically require modifying code in core files. If you feel worried 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 editing code.
Viewing The WordPress Post Revisions List – Post Editor Section
As soon as you create, edit, and update posts and pages, WordPress begins to store new post revisions in its database. These appear in a Revisions list at the bottom of your page or post …
(View the WordPress post revisions list)
If the Revisions list isn’t visible, click on the Screen Options tab at the top of your screen …
(Post Editor – Screen Options tab)
Enable the check box next to ‘Revisions’ in the Boxes section …
(Post Editor: Screen Options tab – Revisions)
You should now see the Revisions box below the editor. Click any of the links to bring up the Compare Revisions feature …
(Post Editor: Revisions Box)
Managing Content Revisions – WordPress Plugins
Autosave and post revisions are no doubt functions that help create a more effective workflow. If you write or 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 be able to manage your revisions.
(Your database could be storing lots of unnecessary data)
For example, if there are 200 posts on your site with an average of 10 revisions each your WordPress database could be storing around 3,000 copies of old data. If your post is approximately 100KB data, then with 3,000 revisions of that post, the total space wasted is about 300MB.
The good news is that there are various WordPress plugins available 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 saved post revisions.
"This is AMAZING! I had learnt about how to use WordPress previously, but this covers absolutely everything and more!! Incredible value! Thank you!" - Monique, Warrior Forum