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 The Post Revisions Function Of WordPress

Have you ever found yourself in this situation? After investing much effort editing a post, something goes wrong and you suddenly find that all of your hard work is gone because you didn’t hit the ‘Save’ button as you went along?

If this ever happens, then worry not! WordPress comes with a powerful built-in autosave and content recovery management feature that:

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

In this step-by-step tutorial, we explain how to use the WordPress autosave and content recovery system to automatically recover and restore your posts and pages while working on your content.

Using The Autosave And Post Recovery Function Of WordPress: Tutorial

Normally, after updating a post or page, you will see a message like this …

Post updated notification

(Post updated message)

WordPress post revisions ensure that your content is saved periodically, allowing you to undo changes to your drafts and recover older post revisions when something unlikely should happen, for example:

  • Your wi-fi connection falls down,
  • Your internet browser freezes up and crashes,
  • Power outages,
  • Other reasons temporarily prevent you from publishing a post, etc.

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

WordPress Post Save Error Message

(WordPress Post Save Error Message)

If you see the message 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 editing screen displaying a previous version of your post, minus any changes that you recently made.

This is where WordPress ‘autosave’ can be a real time-saver.

The Autosave Function Of WordPress

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

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


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

If working with code worries you, feel free to get in touch. We’ll be glad to help you.

If you have been working on your edits for a while and something happens (e.g. your wi-fi connection goes down temporarily), you may see a notice like this when you get back to your post or page …

Autosave notification

(Autosave notification)

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 page

(Compare Revisions feature panel)

WordPress offers one-click recovery of autosaved content. Click Restore This Autosave

WordPress offers one-click restore

(WordPress offers one-click post/page recovery)

Autosave recovers the content …

Post revision restored from Autosave

(Autosave restores the content of your latest post)

Autosave – Additional Information

Content Recovery – Session Expired

Sometimes, a ‘Session expired’ message will pop-up …

Session expired notice

(Session expired notice)

If your login session expires, WordPress remembers where you were. This allows you to 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 different from the version showing in the editor and gives you the opportunity to restore the autosaved backup version.

'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.’ notice)

Click on ‘Restore the backup’ …

Browser backup

(Restore post from browser backup)

WordPress restores the post 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 …

Recover content if you lose your internet connection

(WordPress can help you recover content if you lose your internet connection)

Another improvement made after WordPress 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 losing internet connection

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

Content Revision Control Feature

The Post Revisions feature was introduced in WordPress version 2.6. Whenever you saves a page or post, a revision of that post is automatically created and stored in the WP database.

After WP v. 3.6, WordPress made significant enhancements to its content revision control feature interface.

The new WordPress revision system included new settings in the Page/Post Publish box called Revisions. This automatically calculates how many revisions you have made to your page/post. Click on the ‘Browse’ link to quickly bring up the ‘Compare Revisions’ work screen …

Publish Box - Revisions

(WordPress automatically saves all changes made)

The Compare Revisions section displays in your browser …

Revisions section

(Revisions interface)

Useful Tip

Note: revision control is the same for both Posts and Pages.

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 revision segments will appear in the slider …

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

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

Revisions created by editing content and updating your page or post display in the slider in black, along with the save interval, time, and date of the post/page revision …

Revision marker


Revisions saved automatically by WordPress appear in the slider highlighted in red, along with the save interval, time, and date of the revision …

Revision slider - autosave

(Autosave marker)

Comparing Revisions – Options

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

Move the button to the right or left of the slider

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

There are also buttons to help you navigate between revisions.

Click ‘Previous’ to browse previous versions …

Compare Revisions - 'Previous' button

(Compare Revisions – ‘Previous’ button)

Click ‘Next’ to compare more recent revisions …

Click 'Next' to view more recent revisions

(Compare Revisions – ‘Next’ button)

You can also select and compare two different revisions by enabling the ‘Compare any two revisions’ checkbox …

'Compare any two revisions' box

(’Compare any two revisions’ checkbox)

Adjust the buttons to compare any two revisions …

Compare 2 revisions

(Compare any two revisions)

Choose the revision you want to restore and click Restore This Revision

'Restore This Revision'

(Click to restore selected post revision)

To cancel the operation and go back to the content editor without restoring a revision, click the title of your post …

Click the title of your post to exit

(Click on the post title to go back)

You can also cancel and go back to the content editor without making any changes by clicking the ‘Return to editor’ link …

Revisions - return to editor

(Compare Revisions – return to post editor)

WordPress Post Revisions Function – Plugins & Additional Information

As mentioned earlier, there are some changes you can make to the WordPress revisions function such as changing the autosave interval and disabling the feature altogether, but these usually involve making modifications to server files. If editing files inside your web server worries you, 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.

Post Editor Section – View The Post Revisions Box

As soon as you update your posts and pages, WordPress begins to store new revisions in its database. These are displayed in a Revisions list below your content editor …

Post Editor screen - Viewing the WordPress revisions box

(Viewing the WordPress post revisions list – Post Editor section)

If you can’t see the Revisions area in the Post editor screen, click on the Screen Options  tab in the top right-hand corner of your screen …

Post Editor - Screen Options tab

(Post Editor – Screen Options tab)

Select the checkbox next to ‘Revisions’ in the Boxes section …

Post Editor: Screen Options tab - Revisions

(Post Editor: Screen Options tab – Revisions)

You should now see the Revisions list below your content. Clicking a link will bring up the Revisions panel with related content for that selected item …

Post Editor: Revisions Box

(Post Editor: Revisions Box)

Revision Management Plugins

For most WordPress users, having access to content workflow functions like autosave and automatic revisions is no doubt very useful. If you write and edit extensively, however, over time the number of revisions can start to build up. This can significantly grow the size of your WordPress database, so it’s important 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 300 posts published on your site and each post has 20 revisions your database could be storing up to 6,000 copies of old data. If your post is approximately 100KB data, then with 6,000 post revisions, the total database space wasted is about 600MB.

The good news is that there are several plugins available that can help you manage 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 earlier post/page revisions.

WP Autosave Post Recovery


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