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 …

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The WordPress Autosave Post Revisions Feature

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where, after spending much time and effort composing a new article, something crashes and you suddenly find that you have lost all of your hard work because you did not remember to save it?

If this ever happens and you use WordPress, then worry not! WordPress comes with a built-in autosave and content revision management function that:

  • Automatically saves earlier versions of your posts,
  • Can get your page or post back if your browser crashes while you’re working, and,
  • Lets you restore an earlier draft if you’re unhappy with the content in your article and would like to backtrack.

In this step-by-step tutorial, we will show you how to use the built-in WordPress autosave and content recovery feature to automatically recover your pages and posts.

The WordPress Autosave And Post Revisions Feature: Step-By-Step Tutorial

Typically, after saving a page or post, a notice like the example below will display …

Edit Post - Post updated message

(Post updated message)

WordPress post revisions ensure that your content is saved periodically, allowing you to undo changes to your drafts and restore older versions of your posts if unlikely events should happen, for example:

  • Your modem gets temporarily disconnected,
  • Your browser freezes up and crashes,
  • Power outages,
  • A number of other reasons temporarily prevent you from saving your new post, etc.

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

Are you sure you want to do this?

(Failure Notice – WordPress)

If you get the message Are you sure you want to do this? Please try again and click on the ‘Please try again’ link, you will normally go back to an edit screen displaying a previous version of your post, minus any recent changes.

This is where the built-in autosave function of WordPress can help to avert disaster.

The Autosave Function Of WordPress

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

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


Always make a backup of your data and files before updating your blog or website.

If you feel hesitant about editing code, then contact us for help.

If you were working for a while and something happens (e.g. your wireless connection temporarily drops), you could see a There is an autosave of this post …’ warning like this when you get back to editing your post …

Autosave notice

(Autosave notice)

Click on the ‘View the autosave’ link …

'View the autosave'

(Edit Post – ’View the autosave’)

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

Revisions page

(Revisions feature)

Click Restore This Autosave

WordPress offers one-click content recovery

(WordPress offers one-click content recovery)

Autosave recovers the content you were editing …

Post revision recovered with Autosave

(Post recovered from Autosave)

Autosave – Additional Info

Content Recovery – Session Expired

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

Session expired

(WordPress – session expired notice)

If your login session expires, WordPress remembers where you were, so if you login again, you can pick up 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 autosaved 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 Restore the backup

Browser backup

(Browser backup)

WordPress recovers your post from the browser backup. You can also undo this operation by clicking the ‘Undo’ link …

Post restored successfully 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 …

WordPress can 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 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 …

Content recovery after loss of internet connection

(Content recovery after losing internet connection. Source: WordPress 4.6 updates)

Revision Control

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

Significant improvements were made to the post/page revision control system after WP version 3.6.

The new WordPress revision system now includes a new option to the Publish box called Revisions, which automatically calculates how many revisions you have made. Click ’Browse’ to quickly view the ‘Compare Revisions’ section …

WordPress saves all changes made to your posts

(Publish Box – Revisions)

The Revisions feature comes up …

Compare Revisions section

(Compare Revisions feature)

Useful Tip

Note: revision management is available for Posts and Pages.

How To Compare Revisions – Revision Slider

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

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

(The more revisions, the longer the slider)

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


(Revision marker)

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

Autosave marker

(Autosave revision)

WordPress Revision Feature – Options

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

Move the revision slider to the left or right

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

There are also buttons to help you navigate between revisions.

Click ‘Previous’ to browse previous versions …

Click 'Previous' to view previous post revisions

(Click ‘Previous’ to browse previous revisions)

Click ‘Next’ to scroll through your newer versions …

Compare Revisions - 'Next' button

(Click ‘Next’ to view later post revisions)

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

'Compare any two revisions' checkbox

(’Compare any two revisions’ checkbox)

Adjust the slider buttons independently to compare any two post versions …

Compare 2 different post revisions

(Compare two different post revisions independently)

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

'Restore This Revision' button

(‘Restore This Revision’ button)

To cancel the operation and exit, click the post/page title link …

Click on the title of your post to return

(Click the post title link to exit)

You can also cancel and go back to the post editor without making any changes by clicking Return to editor

Click to return to post editor

(’Return to editor’)

WordPress Post Revisions Function – 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 making edits to code in WordPress files. If you are not comfortable editing code, then contact your web host or get professional assistance.

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

Post Editor Screen – The Post Revisions Box

As soon as you edit and update pages and posts, WordPress begins to store revisions of your content in its database. These show up in a Revisions box below your post or page …

Post Editor screen - The Revisions box

(Post Editor section – The WordPress revisions list)

If you can’t see the Revisions area, click the Screen Options  tab near the top of the screen …

Screen Options tab

(Post Editor – Screen Options tab)

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

Screen Options tab - Revisions

(Post Editor: Screen Options tab – Revisions)

You will now see the Revisions box below your content editor. Click any of the links to bring up the Compare Revisions page with saved content for the selected item …

Post Editor Screen: Revisions Box

(Post Editor Screen: Revisions Box)

Revision Management WordPress Plugins

Autosave and post revisions are no doubt features that help make work more productive. If you write and edit extensively, however, the revisions can start to build up. This can significantly bloat the size of your WordPress database, so it’s important to also 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 10 posts published on your site and each post has an average of 5 revisions your database could be storing around 500 copies of old data. If your post averages 100KB data, then with 500 revisions, the total database space wasted is about 50MB.

The good news is that there are some great (and free) WordPress plugins available to help you control and 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 restore earlier versions of your WordPress pages and posts.

WP Revisions And Autosave


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