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.

WP & Recovery

Have you ever found yourself in this situation? After investing a great deal of time and effort editing a post, something crashes and you suddenly find that all of your hard work is now lost because you forgot to save it?

If this ever happens, don’t dismay! WordPress comes with an autosave and content recovery system that:

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

In this tutorial, we show you how to use the autosave and content recovery system of WordPress to automatically restore content in your posts and pages.

Revisions & Autosave Function Of WordPress: Tutorial

Normally, when you update a post or page, a message like the one below will display …

Edit Post - Post updated notice

(Post updated notice)

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

  • Your modem is temporarily disconnected,
  • Your browser crashes,
  • Power outages,
  • Other reasons temporarily prevent you from publishing a new post, etc.

If this happens and you try to save your work, you may see a ‘WordPress Failure Notice’ like this instead …

WordPress Post Save Error Notice

(WordPress Failure Notice)

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

This is where the built-in WordPress autosave function becomes really handy.

The Autosave Feature

Autosave is automatically enabled for all WordPress pages and posts, but this does not overwrite any content that has already been published.

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

Important

Always make a full backup of your data and files before making any modifications to important website files.

If you are worried about editing code, feel free to contact us for help.

If you were working on your post for a while and something happens (e.g. your wi-fi connection is temporarily disconnected), you may see a message like this when you return to your post or page …

Edit Post - Autosave notification

(Autosave notice)

Click on the ‘View the autosave’ link …

Edit Post - Autosave notice

(Autosave notification)

You will be taken to a revision page where a previously saved version of your post can be restored …

Compare Revisions feature

(Compare Revisions screen)

Click the ‘Restore This Autosave’ button …

WordPress offers one-click recovery

(WordPress offers one-click post recovery)

Autosave restores the content of your latest post revision …

Post content restored from Autosave

(Post restored with Autosave)

Autosave – Additional Info

Content Recovery – Session Expired

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

Session expired

(WordPress – session expired notice)

If you get logged out, 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 currently working on is different from the version you see in the content editor and gives you the opportunity to restore your saved 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

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

WordPress restores your content from the browser backup …

Your post has been restored!

(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

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

Another improvement made after 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 loss of internet connection

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

WordPress Post Revisions – What Is It?

Post Revisions are a feature that was introduced to WordPress in 2.6. Whenever a WordPress post or a page is saved, a revision is automatically created and stored in the WordPress database.

Significant improvements were made to the WordPress post revision management feature after WP v. 3.6.

The new revision system also added a new option to the Publish box called Revisions. This allows you to see at a glance how many revisions you have made to your page/post. Click the ‘Browse’ link to quickly access the ‘Compare Revisions’ work screen …

Publish - Revisions

(WordPress automatically tracks all changes you make)

The Revisions interface appears in your browser …

Compare Revisions section

(Revisions interface)

Tip

Note: This function is available on Pages and Posts.

Comparing Revisions

A Revision Slider allows you to move through different revisions. The more revisions you have saved, the more revision markers you will see displayed in the slider …

The more revisions you have, the more revision markers will appear in the slider

(The more revisions you have, the more revision markers you will see displayed in the slider)

When you make changes to content and update your page or post, your revisions appear in the slider highlighted in black, along with the save interval, time, and date of the revision …

Revision marker

(Revision)

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

Autosave revision

(Revision slider – autosave)

How To Compare Revisions – Options

To navigate between revisions, move the revision slider button right or left …

Move the revision slider to the left or right

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

There are also buttons to help you compare all of the revisions.

Click ‘Previous’ to inspect previous versions …

Click 'Previous' to browse older post revisions

(Compare Revisions – ‘Previous’ button)

Click ‘Next’ to inspect your newer revisions …

Compare Revisions - 'Next' button

(Compare Revisions – ‘Next’ button)

As well as comparing adjacent post revisions, WordPress lets you select and compare revisions by checking the ‘Compare any two revisions’ box …

'Compare any two revisions' checkbox

(Compare any two revisions)

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

Compare any two revisions independently

(Compare any two post revisions)

When you find the saved version you want restored, click the ‘Restore This Revision’ button …

Click to restore selected revision

(‘Restore This Revision’ button)

To go back to the post or page you’re currently working on, click on the post title …

Click on the title of your post to return

(Click the title link to return to the editor)

You can also return to the content editor without making any changes by clicking Return to editor

'Return to editor'

(’Return to editor’)

WordPress Revisions Management – Additional Notes

As mentioned earlier, there are some changes you can make to the WordPress revisions function such as changing the autosave interval or even disabling the feature altogether, but these generally require making modifications to code in core files. If editing files inside your web server makes you feel a little uncomfortable, then contact your web host or get professional assistance.

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

WordPress Revisions Box – Post Editor Section

As soon as you edit and update a page or post, WordPress begins to store new post revisions in its database. These show up in a Revisions list at the bottom of the content editor …

View the WordPress post revisions box

(Post Editor screen – View the WordPress revisions box)

If the Revisions list isn’t visible in the Post editor screen, click on the Screen Options  tab at the top of the screen …

Screen Options tab

(Post Editor – Screen Options tab)

Tick the box next to ‘Revisions’ in the Boxes section …

Screen Options tab - Revisions

(Screen Options tab – Revisions)

You should now see the Revisions box displayed under your content. Clicking the links will bring up the Compare Revisions screen …

Post Editor Screen: Revisions Box

(Post Editor: Revisions Box)

Revision Management Using Plugins

Autosave and post revisions are no doubt features that help make work more efficient. If you write and edit extensively, however, after a while the number of revisions can start building up. This can significantly grow the size of your WordPress database, so it’s important to be able to manage your revisions.

As post revisions accumulate, your database could be storing lots of unnecessary data

(As post revisions accumulate, your database could be storing lots of unnecessary data)

For example, if there are 200 posts on your site and each post has 10 revisions you could be storing around 2,000 copies of old data. If your post is approximately 100KB data, then with 2,000 post revisions, the total database space wasted is about 200MB.

Fortunately, there are a few great plugins for WordPress available 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 earlier saved page and post revisions.

Revisions & Autosave Feature Of WordPress

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"This is an awesome training series. I have a pretty good understanding of WordPress already, but this is helping me to move somewhere from intermediate to advanced user!" - Kim Lednum

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Author: Martin Aranovitch

Martin Aranovitch is the founder of WPCompendium.org and the author of The Small Business Digital Manager. WPCompendium.org provides hundreds of FREE tutorials that show you how to use WordPress to grow your business online with no coding skills required! Get our FREE "101+ WordPress Tips, Tricks & Hacks For Non-Techies" e-course with loads of useful WordPress tips!

Originally published as How To Use WordPress Autosave And Post Revisions.