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.

WordPress Autosave And Post/Page Recovery

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where, after investing much time and effort composing an article, something happens 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 has a powerful built-in autosave and content recovery function that:

  • Helps to prevent losing your work if you forget to save,
  • Can get your page or post content back if something happens to your computer or browser while you’re working, and,
  • Lets you recover an earlier version if you changed the content of an article.

This step-by-step tutorial explains how to use the built-in WordPress autosave and content recovery function to recover and restore content in your pages and posts.

Post Revisions And Autosave Feature Of WordPress: Tutorial

Typically, after updating a page or post, you will see a message like the example shown below …

Edit Post - Post updated notification

(Edit Post – Post updated notice)

Things can and do go wrong, however. For example:

  • The internet suddenly goes down,
  • Your browser crashes,
  • You experience a power outage,
  • etc.

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

Failure Notice - WordPress

(Failure Notice – WordPress)

If you the message “Are you sure you want to do this? Please try again” appears on your screen and you click on the ‘Please try again’ link, you will normally return to a screen displaying an earlier version of your post, minus any changes that you recently made.

This is where WordPress ‘autosave’ becomes very useful.

Autosave

Autosaves are automatically enabled for all WordPress posts and pages and stored as a special type of revision in the site’s database so they will not overwrite the page or post you’re actually working on.

By default, WordPress autosaves the current version of your post in the WordPress database every sixty seconds. This time interval can be changed by adding code to your wp-config.php file.

Important

Always make a complete backup of your data and files before modifying website files.

If you feel uncomfortable about editing files inside your server, feel free to contact us for assistance.

If you have been working on your post for a while and something happens (e.g. your browser crashes), a There is an autosave of this post that is more recent than the version below’ warning like this may come up when you get back to your post …

Edit Post - Autosave notification

(Edit Post – Autosave notification)

Click on the ‘View the autosave’ link …

'View the autosave'

(Edit Post – ’View the autosave’)

The Compare Revisions area comes up, allowing you to recover an autosaved version of your article …

Revisions feature panel

(Revisions feature panel)

WordPress offers one-click post/page recovery of autosaved content. Click the ‘Restore This Autosave’ button …

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

(WordPress offers one-click post recovery)

Autosave restores the content you were editing …

Autosave restores your post

(Autosave restores your post)

Autosave – Additional Info

Content Recovery – Session Expired

Sometimes, your login session will simply expire while you are working …

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 - log in again to continue working

(Session expired notice)

WordPress also warns you if the backup of the post you are currently looking at is not the same as the version you see in the editor and gives you the opportunity to restore the autosaved backup.

Edit Post - Restore post from browser backup

(Edit Post – Restore post from browser backup)

Click Restore the backup

Browser backup

(Browser backup)

WordPress recovers your content from your browser backup. You can also revert to your previous post content by clicking ‘Undo’ …

Post recovered successfully!

(Your post has been successfully 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 losing internet connection. Source: WordPress 4.6 updates)

Revision Management

The Post Revisions feature was introduced in WordPress v. 2.6. Whenever you saves a post or a page, it automatically creates a revision and stores it in your WordPress database.

After WP v. 3.6, WordPress made significant improvements to its revision control feature.

The new WordPress revision system now includes a new option to the Post/Page Publish box called Revisions, which allows you to immediately see how many revisions you have made. Click on the ‘Browse’ link to bring up the ‘Compare Revisions’ page …

WordPress automatically tracks all changes you make

(Publish Box – Revisions)

The Compare Revisions area comes up …

Compare Revisions interface

(Revisions screen)

Practical Tip

Note: This function is the same for Posts and Pages.

How To Compare Revisions

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

The more revisions, the longer the slider

(The more revisions, the longer the slider)

Revisions created by editing content and updating pages or posts display in the slider marked in black, with the save interval, time, and date of the post revision …

Revision slider

(Revision marker)

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

Autosave

(Revision slider – autosave)

How To Compare Revisions – How to Use The Revision Slider

You can navigate between revisions by moving the slider button right or left …

Move the button to the right or left of the slider

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

There are also buttons to assist with navigation.

Click ‘Previous’ to navigate through earlier revisions …

Click 'Previous' to view older revisions

(Click ‘Previous’ to view older revisions)

Click ‘Next’ to inspect later versions …

Click 'Next' to view later post revisions

(Click ‘Next’ to view newer post revisions)

In addition to comparing adjacent revisions, you can compare revisions by enabling the ‘Compare any two revisions’ box …

Compare any two revisions

(Compare any two revisions)

This lets you adjust two buttons independently to compare any two post revisions …

Compare 2 revisions

(Compare 2 revisions independently)

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

'Restore This Revision'

(‘Restore This Revision’ button)

To exit and go back to the content editor, click on the title …

Click on the post title link to go back

(Click on the title link to return)

You can also cancel and return to the post editor by clicking on Return to editor

Compare Revisions - return to editor

(Click to return to editor)

WordPress Post Revisions Management – Additional Notes

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 require editing code in WordPress files. If you are not confident working with files inside your web server, then contact your web host or get professional assistance.

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

Post Editor Section – The Revisions Box

As soon as you update posts and pages, WordPress begins to store new revisions in its database. These show up in a Revisions section below your post editor …

Revisions box

(The WordPress post revisions list)

If the Revisions box isn’t visible in the Post editor screen, click the Screen Options  tab near the top of your screen …

Post Editor - Screen Options tab

(Screen Options tab)

Make sure that the option next to ‘Revisions’ in the Boxes section is enabled …

Post Editor: Screen Options tab - Revisions

(Post Editor: Screen Options tab – Revisions)

You will now see the Revisions box under your content. Clicking a link will bring up the Revisions page with saved content for your selected item …

Revisions Box

(Post Editor: Revisions Box)

Managing Revisions – WordPress Plugins

For most WordPress users, having autosave and automatic revisions is something that can help make work more productive. If you write extensively, however, the 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.

Your WordPress database could be storing lots of unnecessary data

(Your database could be storing lots of unnecessary data)

For example, if there are 100 posts published on your site with an average of 10 revisions each your database could be storing around 1,000 copies of unnecessary data. If your post is approximately 100KB data, then with 1,000 post revisions, the total space wasted is about 100MB.

Fortunately, there are various 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 older versions of your WordPress pages or posts.

The WordPress Autosave Post Revisions Feature

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