Have you ever found yourself in a situation where, after investing a great deal of time editing an article, something unexpected happens and you suddenly find that all of your hard work is now lost because you didn’t hit the ‘Save’ button as you went along?
If this happens, then worry not! WordPress comes with a built-in autosave and posts revision management system that:
- Helps to prevent losing your work if you forget to save,
- Can get your post or page back if something happens to your computer or browser while you’re working, and,
- Lets you restore an older draft if you changed the content of an article and would like to backtrack.
In this step-by-step tutorial, we show you how to use the autosave and content recovery system of WordPress to automatically recover and restore content in your posts and pages.
How To Use The Autosave And Post Revisions Feature Of WordPress: Step-By-Step Tutorial
Generally, when you edit and update a post or page, you will see a confirmation message like the one shown below …
(Edit Post – Post updated notification)
WordPress post revisions ensure that your content is periodically saved, so you can undo changes to your drafts and revert back to earlier versions of your posts when unexpected events happen, such as:
- Your wireless connection falls down,
- Your web browser crashes,
- You’re struck by power outages,
When this happens and you try to save your work, a ‘WordPress Failure Notice’ message like this may end up being displayed instead …
(Failure Notice – WordPress)
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 a page or post editing screen displaying an older version of your post, minus any recent changes.
This is where WordPress ‘autosave’ can help prevent a disaster.
In WordPress, autosave automatically enabled for all posts and pages, but this does not overwrite any content that has already been published.
By default, WordPress autosaves the current version of your post in the WordPress database every sixty seconds. This interval can be changed by adding code to your wp-config.php file.
We strongly recommend performing a complete backup of your site files and database before modifying website files.
If editing files inside your server unnerves you, then get in touch for assistance.
If you have been working on your edits for a while and something happens (e.g. your browser crashes), a There is an autosave of this post …’ message like this may come up when you get back to your post …
Click on the link to view the autosave …
(’View the autosave’ link)
The Compare Revisions interface displays, allowing you to recover a previously saved version of your article …
(Compare Revisions feature)
WordPress offers one-click recovery of autosaved content. Click the ‘Restore This Autosave’ button …
(WordPress offers one-click recovery of autosaved content)
Autosave restores your content …
(Post restored with Autosave)
WordPress Post Autosave – Additional Info
Content Recovery – Session Expired
Sometimes, a ‘Session expired’ message will pop-up …
(WordPress – session expired)
If you get logged out, WordPress remembers where you were. Login 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 displayed in the content editor and gives you the opportunity to restore the saved backup version.
(Restore post from browser backup)
Click on ‘Restore the backup’ …
(Restore post from browser backup)
WordPress recovers and restores your content from the browser backup. You can also undo this operation by clicking ‘Undo’ …
(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 version 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. Source: WordPress 4.6 updates)
WordPress Post Revisions Feature – What Is It?
Post Revisions are a feature that was introduced to WordPress in version 2.6. Whenever a page or post is saved in WordPress, it automatically creates a revision and stores it in the WordPress database.
WordPress overhauled the revision control system interface from WP v. 3.6.
The new WordPress revision system included a new option to the Page/Post Publish box called Revisions, which automatically calculates how many revisions you have made. and lets you bring up the ‘Compare Revisions’ page by clicking on the ‘Browse’ link …
(Publish – Revisions)
The Compare Revisions section comes up …
Note: This function is available for both Pages and Posts.
How To Compare Revisions
A Revision Slider allows you to move through different saved revisions. The more revisions you have, the more revision markers will appear in the slider …
(The more revisions, the longer the slider)
Revisions created by making changes to content and updating your post or page appear in the revision slider marked in black, along with the save interval, time, and date of the post revision …
Revisions saved automatically by WordPress show up in the slider marked in red, with the save interval, time, and date of the revision …
(Revision slider – autosave)
Revision Management – Navigation Options
To navigate between adjacent post revisions, move the slider left (older) or right (newer) …
(Move the revision slider button to the left or right)
There are also buttons to help you navigate between revisions.
Click ‘Previous’ to inspect past post revisions …
(Compare Revisions – ‘Previous’ button)
Click ‘Next’ to compare your newer revisions …
(Click ‘Next’ to view later revisions)
You can also select and compare two different revisions by enabling the ‘Compare any two revisions’ option …
(’Compare any two revisions’ check box)
This lets you adjust two buttons independently to compare any two post versions …
(Compare 2 revisions independently)
When you find the version you want to restore, click Restore This Revision …
(Click to restore selected post revision)
To exit without restoring a revision, click on the title of your post …
(Click on the post title link to return to the editor)
You can also exit and go back to the editor by clicking on Return to editor …
(’Return to editor’)
WordPress Post Revisions – Plugins
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 edits to code in core files. If you are worried about editing code, then contact your web host or get professional assistance.
Let’s focus, then, on some additional areas of WordPress revisions management that don’t require editing code.
Post Editor Section – Viewing The WordPress Post Revisions Box
As soon as you update posts and pages, WordPress begins to store new revisions in its database. You can see these displayed in a Revisions box below your page editor …
(Revisions list – Post Editor screen)
If you can’t see the Revisions list in the Post editor screen, click the Screen Options tab on the top right-hand corner of your screen …
(Screen Options tab)
Tick the box next to ‘Revisions’ in the Boxes section …
(Post Editor: Screen Options tab – Revisions)
You will now see the Revisions box below your content editor section. Click any link to bring up the Revisions feature …
Managing Revisions – WordPress Plugins
Autosave and post revisions are no doubt features that help create a more effective workflow. If you write often, however, the revisions can start building up. This can significantly increase the size of your WordPress database, so it’s important to manage your revisions.
(As you write more posts on your site, your database could be storing lots of unnecessary data)
For example, if you have 200 posts on your site with an average of 10 revisions each you could be storing an extra 2,000 copies of old data. If your post averages 100KB data, then with 2,000 post revisions, the total space wasted is about 200MB.
Fortunately, there are several free WordPress plugins to 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 older post/page revisions.
"If you're new to WordPress, this can stand on its own as a training course and will stay with you as you progress from beginner to advanced and even guru status." - Bruce (Columbus, Ohio)