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.

Content Recovery & Autosave Feature Of WordPress

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where, after investing a great deal of effort editing a post, something unexpected happens and you suddenly find that all of your hard work is lost because you didn’t save it?

If this ever happens and your website is powered by WordPress, there’s no need to feel dismayed! WordPress comes with a powerful built-in autosave and content recovery management system that:

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

In this tutorial, we will show you how to use the autosave and post revision feature of WordPress to easily recover your pages and posts.

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

Normally, when you edit and save a page or post, you will see a notice like this …

Edit Post - Post updated notice

(Post updated notification)

WordPress post revisions ensure that your content is saved at regular intervals, so you can undo changes to your drafts and revert back to older versions of your posts if unlikely events were to happen, for example:

  • The internet goes down,
  • Your browser crashes,
  • Power outages,
  • Internet “gremlins” temporarily prevent you from publishing a new post, 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

(WordPress Failure Notice)

When 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 be taken back to a screen displaying an older version of your post, minus any changes that you recently made.

This is where the autosave function can be really useful.

The Autosave Feature

Autosaves are stored as a special type of revision in the WordPress database so they won’t overwrite the post you are working on.

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

Warning

We strongly recommend performing a full backup of your data and files before modifying your website or blog.

If you are worried about editing files inside your server, then contact us for help.

If you have been working on your post for a while and something happens (e.g. your browser crashes), a notice like this may come up when you return to editing your post or page …

Autosave notification

(Edit Post – Autosave notification)

Click on ‘View the autosave’ …

Autosave notification

(’View the autosave’ link)

You will be taken to the Compare Revisions screen where a previously saved version of your post can be restored …

Revisions area

(Revisions screen)

WordPress offers one-click recovery. Click the ‘Restore This Autosave’ button …

WordPress offers one-click restore of autosaved content

(WordPress offers one-click restore of autosaved content)

The content of your latest post will be recovered using autosave …

Post recovered with Autosave

(Autosave restores the content of your latest post revision)

WordPress Post/Page Autosave – Additional Notes

Content Recovery – Session Expired

Sometimes, you will see a ‘Session expired’ message …

WordPress - session expired notice

(Session expired)

If you get logged out, WordPress remembers where you were, so if you log in again, you can pick up where you left off …

Session expired notice - log in again to continue working

(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 content editor and gives you the opportunity to restore the autosaved 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.’ warning)

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 the 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 …

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

(Recover content if you lose your internet connection)

Another improvement made after 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 …

Recover content after loss of internet connection

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

Revision Management

Post Revisions were introduced in WordPress 2.6. Whenever a page or post is saved, a revision of that post is automatically created and stored in the WordPress database.

After version 3.6, WordPress made significant enhancements to its revision management function.

The new revision system included new settings in the Post/Page Publish box called Revisions. This automatically calculates how many revisions you have made to your post/page. and lets you quickly bring up the ‘Compare Revisions’ section by clicking the ‘Browse’ link …

WordPress saves all changes you make

(WordPress automatically keeps track of all changes made to your posts)

The Revisions interface comes up …

Compare Revisions screen

(Compare Revisions feature)

Tip

Note: This feature is the same for both Posts and Pages.

How To Compare Revisions – Revision Slider

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

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

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

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

Revision marker

(Revision marker)

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

Autosave marker

(Revision slider – autosave)

Comparing Revisions – Navigation Options

To navigate between sequential post revisions, move the slider right or left …

Move the button to the right or left of the slider

(Move the revision slider to the left or right)

There are also buttons to assist with navigation.

Click ‘Previous’ to move through previous post versions …

Compare Revisions - 'Previous' button

(Click ‘Previous’ to browse older post revisions)

Click ‘Next’ to inspect your newer versions …

Compare Revisions - 'Next' button

(Compare Revisions – ‘Next’ button)

As well as comparing sequential page/post revisions, WordPress lets you select and compare any two revisions by ticking the ‘Compare any two revisions’ option …

Compare any two revisions

(’Compare any two revisions’ checkbox)

Adjust the slider buttons independently to compare any two revisions …

Compare 2 revisions independently

(Compare two different post revisions)

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

'Restore This Revision' button

(Click to restore post revision)

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

Click on the post title to exit

(Click the title of your post to go back)

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

Click to return to editor

(Click to return to post editor)

WordPress Post Revisions Control – Additional Information

As mentioned earlier, there are some changes you can make to the WordPress revisions feature such as changing the autosave interval and disabling the feature altogether, but these generally involve making modifications to code in WordPress files. If you are concerned about editing code, then contact your web host or get professional assistance.

Let’s focus, then, on some additional aspects of WordPress post revisions feature that don’t require messing around with code.

Viewing The Revisions Box

As soon as you edit and update posts and pages, WordPress begins to store new revisions for the content in its database. These show up in a Revisions section at the bottom of your post editor …

Post Editor section - Viewing the Post revisions box

(Post Editor section – View the WordPress revisions box)

If the Revisions area isn’t visible, click on the Screen Options  tab at the top of the screen …

Post Editor - Screen Options tab

(Screen Options tab)

Make sure that the box for ‘Revisions’ in the Boxes section is checked …

Screen Options tab - Revisions

(Screen Options tab – Revisions)

You should now see the Revisions list displayed under your content editor section. Clicking the links will bring up the Revisions feature with related data for the item …

Revisions Box

(Post Editor Screen: Revisions Box)

Managing Post Revisions – WordPress Plugins

Having access to content workflow functions like autosave and automatic revisions is very useful. If you write and edit often, however, the revisions can start to build up. This can significantly grow the size of your WordPress database, so it’s important to be able to manage your revisions.

Post revisions can really add up after a while

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

For example, if you have 300 posts on your site with an average of 10 revisions each you could be storing up to 6,000 copies of unnecessary data. If your post averages 100KB data, then with 6,000 post revisions, the total space wasted is about 600MB.

The good news is that there are a number of plugins available that can 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 versions of your WordPress posts and pages.

How To Use The Post Recovery Feature Of WordPress

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"Wow! I never knew there's so much to learn about WordPress! I bought one of the WordPress for Dummies three years ago, such authors need to be on this course!" - Rich Law, Create A Blog Now

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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.