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 WP Autosave And Page/Post Recovery

Have you ever found yourself in this situation? After spending a great deal of effort composing a new article, something goes wrong and you suddenly find that all of your hard work is now gone because you did not remember to save it?

If this ever happens and you use WordPress, there’s no need to panic! WordPress comes with a powerful autosave and content recovery function that:

  • Helps to prevent losing your work if you forget to save,
  • Gets your post or page back if your web browser crashes while you’re working, and,
  • Lets you recover an earlier draft if you’re unhappy with the content in an article and would like to backtrack.

In this step-by-step tutorial, you will learn how to use the built-in autosave and content recovery system of WordPress to recover and restore your pages and posts.

WP Autosave And Recovery: Tutorial

Usually, after updating a post or page, a message like the one below will display …

Post updated notification

(Post updated successfully!)

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

  • The internet goes down,
  • Your internet browser crashes,
  • You’re struck by power outages,
  • etc.

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

WordPress Post Save Error Message

(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 ‘Please try again’, you will normally be taken back to a screen displaying an earlier version of your post, minus any recent changes.

This is where the autosave feature can really help you.

The Autosave Feature

Autosaves are stored in the WordPress database as a special type of revision so they won’t overwrite the post you are working on.

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

Warning

We recommend making a complete backup of your site files and database before updating website files.

If editing files inside your server makes you feel uncomfortable, feel free to get in touch. 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 goes down temporarily), a There is an autosave of this post …’ warning like this may come up when you get back to your post …

Edit Post - Autosave notification

(Autosave notice)

Click on the ‘View the autosave’ link …

'View the autosave'

(’View the autosave’)

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

Compare Revisions section

(Compare Revisions feature)

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

WordPress offers one-click recovery of autosaved content

(WordPress offers one-click restore)

The content you were editing will be restored using autosave …

Post content restored with Autosave

(Autosave restores the content of your post)

Autosave – Additional Notes

Content Recovery – Session Expired

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

Session expired notice

(WordPress – session expired)

If your login session expires, WordPress remembers where you were. Log in again and continue working from 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 not the same as the version showing in the content editor and gives you the opportunity to restore your saved version.

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

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

Click on ‘Restore the backup’ …

Edit Post - Restore post from browser backup

(Browser backup)

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

Post restored successfully!

(Your post is now 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

(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 loss of internet connection

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

What Are WordPress Post Revisions?

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

Significant improvements were made to the content revision control system after WP v. 3.6.

The new revision system also added a new option to the Post/Page Publish box called Revisions. This lets you know at a glance how many revisions you have made to your content. Click ’Browse’ to bring up the ‘Compare Revisions’ feature panel …

WordPress automatically records all changes made to your posts

(WordPress automatically keeps track of all changes you make)

The Compare Revisions feature displays in your browser …

Revisions section

(Revisions screen)

Tip

Note: This function is available for both Posts and Pages.

Comparing Revisions – Revision Slider

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

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

(The more revisions, the longer the slider)

When you edit content and update your post or page, your revisions display in the slider highlighted in black, along with the save interval, time, and date of the post/page revision …

Revision

(Revision)

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

Revision slider - autosave

(Autosave marker)

How To Compare Revisions – Navigation

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

Move the button to the left or right of the slider

(Move the revision slider to the right or left)

There are also buttons to assist with navigation.

Click ‘Previous’ to scroll back through previous revisions …

Compare Revisions - 'Previous' button

(Compare Revisions – ‘Previous’ button)

Click ‘Next’ to move through your newer versions …

Click 'Next' to browse newer revisions

(Compare Revisions – ‘Next’ button)

As well as comparing adjacent revisions, you can compare any two revisions side by side by checking the ‘Compare any two revisions’ box …

'Compare any two revisions' checkbox

(’Compare any two revisions’ box)

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

Compare two different revisions

(Compare two different revisions)

When you find the version you would like restored, click the ‘Restore This Revision’ button …

Click to restore post revision

(Click to restore revision)

To go back to the current saved version of your page/post, click the post title …

Click the post title to return to the editor

(Click on the post title link to go back)

You can also go back to the editor by clicking on Return to editor

Revisions - return to editor

(’Return to editor’)

WordPress Post Revisions – 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 generally require making modifications to code in core files. If you don’t feel comfortable working with code, then contact your web host or get professional assistance.

Let’s focus, then, on some additional areas of WordPress revisions control that don’t require coding skills.

Post Editor Section – The Post Revisions Box

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

View the post revisions box

(Post Editor screen – The post revisions box)

If you can’t see the Revisions list, click the Screen Options  tab at the top right-hand corner of the screen …

Screen Options tab

(Screen Options tab)

Tick the checkbox for ‘Revisions’ in the Boxes section …

Screen Options tab - Revisions

(Screen Options tab – Revisions)

You will now see the Revisions list under your content editor section. Clicking a link will bring up the Compare Revisions panel with saved content for that selected item …

Revisions Box

(Revisions Box)

Revision Management WordPress Plugins

Autosave and post revisions are no doubt functions that help create a more productive workflow. If you write a lot of content, however, the number of revisions can start to build up. This can significantly bloat the size of your WordPress database, so it’s important to be able 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 you have 200 posts on your site and each post has 20 revisions your WordPress database could be storing around 4,000 copies of old data. If your post averages 100KB data, then with 4,000 revisions of that post, the total database space wasted is about 400MB.

The good news is that there are several plugins to 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 restore earlier saved page/post revisions.

Content Restore And Autosave Function Of WordPress

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"These tutorials have so much information and are easy to understand. If you use WordPress or plan to in the future these will help you with everything you need to know." - Valisa (Mesa, Arizona)