Have you ever found yourself in a situation where, after spending a great deal of effort composing a new article, 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, then worry not! WordPress comes with a powerful autosave and revision feature that:
- Automatically saves earlier versions of your pages and posts,
- Gets 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’re unhappy with the content of your article.
In this tutorial, we will show you how to use the built-in WordPress autosave and post recovery management system to recover and restore your posts and pages.
The WordPress Autosave And Revisions Feature: Step-By-Step Tutorial
Normally, when you save a post or page, a confirmation notice like the example shown below will display …
(Edit Post – Post updated notification)
Things can and do go wrong, however. For example:
- Your wi-fi is temporarily disconnected,
- Your internet browser crashes,
- A power outage occurs,
- Internet “gremlins” temporarily prevent you from publishing a new post, etc.
If you try to save your work, a ‘WordPress Failure Notice’ like this may end up being displayed on your screen instead …
(Failure Notice – WordPress)
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 a screen displaying a previous version of your post, minus any changes that you recently made.
This is where the built-in autosave function can help you avoid grief.
The Autosave Function
The autosave function is automatically enabled for all WordPress posts and pages, but this does not overwrite any content that has already been published.
By default, posts are autosaved to the WordPress database every 60 seconds. This time interval can be changed by modifying code in your wp-config.php file.
Always make a complete backup of your site files and database before modifying important website files.
If you feel hesitant about working with files inside your server, feel free to contact us. We’ll be glad to help you.
If you were working for a while and something happens (e.g. your browser crashes), you may see a message like this when you get back to your post …
Click on the ‘View the autosave’ link …
(Click to view the autosave)
You will be taken to a revision page where a previously saved version of your post can be recovered …
(Compare Revisions section)
WordPress offers one-click restore. Click Restore This Autosave …
(WordPress offers one-click recovery)
The content of your latest post will be restored using autosave …
(Autosave restores the content of your post)
WordPress Post/Page Autosave – Additional Info
Content Recovery – Session Expired
Sometimes, you will get a ‘Session expired’ message …
If you get logged out, WordPress remembers where you were, so when you login again, you can continue working from where you left off …
(Session expired notice)
WordPress also warns you if the backup of the post you are currently working on is not the same as the version you see in the editor and gives you the opportunity to restore the autosaved version.
(Restore post from browser backup)
Click Restore the backup …
WordPress recovers the content from your browser backup …
(Your post has been restored!)
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 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. Source: WordPress 4.6 updates)
WordPress Post Revisions – What Is It?
Post Revisions were introduced in WordPress 2.6. Whenever WordPress saves a post or a page, it automatically creates a revision and stores it in the WP database.
WordPress introduced significant improvements to the revision control feature in WordPress version 3.6.
The new revision system included a new option to the Page/Post Publish box called Revisions, which allows you to know at a glance how many revisions you have made. Click ’Browse’ to quickly bring up the ‘Revisions’ page …
(WordPress automatically tracks all changes)
The Revisions feature comes up …
(Compare Revisions feature)
Note: This function is available on Pages and Posts.
How To Compare Revisions
A Revision Slider displays at the top of the screen, allowing you to move through different revisions. The more revisions you have, the longer the slider will be …
(The more revisions, the longer the slider)
Revisions created by making changes to content and updating your page or post display in the revision slider in black, along with the save interval, time, and date of the post/page revision …
When WordPress automatically saves your page or post, your revisions display in the slider in red, along with the save interval, time, and date of the post/page revision …
(Revision slider – autosave)
Page/Post Revision Feature – Navigation
To navigate between different revisions, move the revision slider right or left …
(Move the button to the left or right of the revision slider)
There are also buttons to help you navigate through the revisions.
Click ‘Previous’ to view older versions …
(Click ‘Previous’ to browse previous post revisions)
Click ‘Next’ to review your newer versions …
(Click ‘Next’ to browse later revisions)
You can also compare revisions by selecting the ‘Compare any two revisions’ box …
(’Compare any two revisions’ box)
Adjust the buttons to compare any two post versions …
(Compare different post revisions)
Select the version you want restored and click Restore This Revision …
(‘Restore This Revision’ button)
To cancel the operation and return to the current saved version of your page/post, click on the title …
(Click the post title link to go back)
You can also exit without making any changes by clicking Return to editor …
(’Return to editor’)
WordPress Revisions – Plugins And Additional Information
As mentioned earlier, there are some changes you can make to the WordPress revisions feature such as changing the autosave interval or disabling the feature altogether, but these typically involve modifying WordPress files. If you are worried about editing files inside your server, 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.
WordPress Post Revisions Box – Post Editor Section
As soon as you save a post/page, WordPress begins to store new revisions in its database. These appear in a Revisions section below the content editor …
(Post Editor screen – The post revisions list)
If you can’t see the Revisions area, click on the Screen Options tab near the top of your screen …
(Post Editor – Screen Options tab)
Make sure that the box for ‘Revisions’ in the Boxes section is ticked …
(Post Editor: Screen Options tab – Revisions)
You will now see the Revisions box displayed under your content editor section. Click any of the links to bring up the Compare Revisions feature panel …
(Post Editor Screen: Revisions Box)
Revision Management WordPress Plugins
Having workflow features like autosave and revisions is a great thing. If you write and edit extensively, however, the number of revisions can start building up. This can significantly bloat the size of your WordPress database, so it’s important to be able to manage your revisions.
(As you write more posts, your database could be storing lots of unnecessary data)
For example, if you have 300 posts on your site with an average of 10 revisions each your WordPress database could be storing around 6,000 copies of unnecessary data. If your post averages 100KB data, then with 6,000 post revisions, the total database space wasted is about 600MB.
Fortunately, there are various WordPress plugins that can help you 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 recover earlier page/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