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.

Revisions & Autosave Function Of WordPress

Have you ever experienced a situation where, after investing a great deal of effort composing a new article, something happens and you suddenly find that all of your hard work is gone because you didn’t save it?

If this ever happens, don’t worry! WordPress has an autosave and revision feature that:

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

In this tutorial, you will learn how to use the WordPress autosave and post revision management system to recover and restore your pages and posts while working on your content.

Using The Post Revisions Function Of WordPress: Tutorial

Normally, whenever you update a page or post, you will see a message like the example below …

Edit Post - Post updated notice

(Edit Post – Post updated message)

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

  • Your modem is disconnected,
  • Your web browser freezes up,
  • You experience a power outage,
  • etc.

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

WordPress Failure Notice

(Failure Notice – WordPress)

If you a message that says “Are you sure you want to do this? Please try again” shows up on your screen and you click on ‘Please try again’, you will normally be taken back to an editing screen displaying an earlier version of your post, minus any changes that you recently made.

This is where ’autosave’ comes in handy.

The Autosave Feature

Autosave is automatically enabled for all WordPress posts and pages, but this does not overwrite your published content.

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

Warning

Always make a full backup of your website before modifying your blog or website.

If editing code worries you, feel free to get in touch for assistance.

If you have been working on your post for a while and something happens (e.g. your wireless connection goes down temporarily), you could see a There is an autosave of this post …’ notification like this when you go back to editing your post or page …

Edit Post - Autosave notification

(Edit Post – Autosave notice)

Click on the ‘View the autosave’ link …

'View the autosave' link

(’View the autosave’)

The Compare Revisions area displays, allowing you to recover an autosaved version of your article …

Revisions section

(Compare Revisions section)

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

WordPress offers one-click content recovery

(WordPress offers one-click recovery)

Autosave restores the content you were editing …

Post recovered with Autosave

(Post content restored with Autosave)

Autosave – Additional Info

Content Recovery – Session Expired

Sometimes, a ‘Session expired’ notification will appear …

Session expired notice

(WordPress – session expired notice)

If your login session expires, WordPress remembers where you were, so when you log in again, you can pick up where you left off …

Session expired notice - log in again to continue working

(Session expired notice)

WordPress also warns you if the backup of the post you are currently working on is not the same as the version you see in the content editor and gives you the opportunity to restore the autosaved backup.

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

(Edit Post – Restore backup of post saved in browser)

Click on ‘Restore the backup’ …

Browser backup

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

The content will be recovered from the browser backup …

Your post has been successfully restored!

(Your post is now 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

(Recover content if you lose your internet connection)

Another improvement made after WordPress v. 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)

Post Revision Management

Post Revisions were introduced to WordPress in 2.6. Whenever a WordPress post or a page is saved, it automatically creates a revision of that post and stores it in the WP database.

After version 3.6, WordPress made significant improvements to its post/page revision management function interface.

The new revision system also added a new option to the Post/Page Publish box called Revisions. This lets you immediately know how many revisions you have made. Click ’Browse’ to quickly view the ‘Revisions’ screen …

WordPress automatically keeps track of your post changes

(Publish Box – Revisions)

The Compare Revisions section displays in your browser …

Revisions feature

(Compare Revisions screen)

Tip

Note: This feature is available for WordPress Posts and Pages.

Comparing Revisions

A Revision Slider displays at the top of the screen, allowing you to move through different revisions. The more revisions you have, the more revision segments you will see displayed in the slider …

The more revisions, the longer the slider

(The more revisions, the longer the slider)

Revisions created by making changes to content and updating your page or post appear in the revision slider highlighted in black, with the save interval, time, and date of the post/page revision …

Revision slider

(Revision)

When WordPress automatically saves pages or posts, your revisions display in the slider highlighted in red, with the save interval, time, and date of the revision …

Autosave

(Revision slider – autosave)

How To Compare Revisions – Using The Revision Slider

To navigate between post revisions, move the slider left (older) or right (newer) …

Move the revision slider button to the right or left

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

There are also buttons to help you navigate between revisions.

Click ‘Previous’ to review earlier post versions …

Compare Revisions - 'Previous' button

(Click ‘Previous’ to browse previous revisions)

Click ‘Next’ to browse more recent versions …

Compare Revisions - 'Next' button

(Compare Revisions – ‘Next’ button)

You can also compare different revisions by enabling the ‘Compare any two revisions’ check box …

'Compare any two revisions' check box

(’Compare any two revisions’ box)

Adjust the sliders independently to compare any two revisions …

Compare any 2 revisions

(Compare different post revisions)

Select the version you want to restore and click the ‘Restore This Revision’ button …

Click to restore selected post revision

(‘Restore This Revision’ button)

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

Click on the title link to go back

(Click on the title link to go back)

You can also exit the Compare Revisions page without making any changes by clicking Return to editor

'Return to editor'

(’Return to editor’)

WordPress Post Revisions – Plugins

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 usually require making modifications to code. If editing files inside your web server makes you feel uncomfortable, then contact your web host or get professional assistance.

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

View The Revisions List – Post Editor Section

As soon as you edit and save your posts/pages, WordPress begins to store revisions for your content in its database. These are displayed in a Revisions section below your post or page …

The post revisions list - Post Editor screen

(WordPress revisions list)

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

Screen Options tab

(Post Editor – Screen Options tab)

Make sure that the check box next to ‘Revisions’ in the Boxes section is ticked …

Post Editor: Screen Options tab - Revisions

(Screen Options tab – Revisions)

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

Post Editor: Revisions Box

(Revisions Box)

Managing Content Revisions – WordPress Plugins

For most users, having autosave and revisions is undoubtedly something that can help make work more productive. If you write often, however, the number of revisions can start building 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 200 posts published on your site and each post has 15 revisions your WordPress database could be storing around 3,000 copies of old data. If your post averages 100KB data, then with 3,000 post revisions, the total space wasted is about 300MB.

The good news is that there are some great 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 restore older revisions of your WordPress posts or pages.

The WordPress & Revisions Feature

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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.