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.

Post Recovery & Autosave Function Of WordPress

Have you ever been in a situation where, after spending much time and effort editing a post, something goes wrong and you suddenly find that you have lost all of your hard work because you didn’t hit the ‘Save’ button as you went along?

If this ever happens and your website is built using WordPress, then worry not! WordPress has a powerful autosave and content recovery management system that:

  • Helps to prevent losing your work if you forget to save,
  • Can get your page or post back if your web browser crashes while you’re working, and,
  • Lets you recover an older draft if you’ve changed the content of your article and would like to backtrack.

In this step-by-step tutorial, we will show you how to use the built-in autosave and revision system of WordPress to easily restore your posts and pages.

Content Recovery & Autosave Function Of WordPress: Step-By-Step Tutorial

Normally, when you edit and save a page or post, you will see a confirmation notice like the one shown below …

Edit Post - Post updated notice

(Edit Post – Post updated notification)

WordPress autosave and post revisions ensure that your content is saved at regular intervals, allowing you to undo changes to your drafts and revert back to earlier post revisions if unlikely events were to happen, for example:

  • Your wi-fi gets disconnected,
  • Your browser crashes,
  • A power outage occurs,
  • Internet “gremlins” temporarily prevent you from saving or publishing your post, etc.

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

WordPress Post Save Error 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 return to an editing screen displaying a previous version of your post, minus any changes that you recently made.

This is where WordPress ‘autosave’ can be handy.

The Autosave Feature

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 database every 60 seconds. This time interval can be changed by adding code to your wp-config.php file.

Important

Always make a backup of your website before making any updates to important website files.

If you don’t feel comfortable editing code, feel free to contact us. We’ll be glad to assist you.

If you have been working for a while and something happens (e.g. your browser crashes), you may see a message like the one shown below when you get back to editing your post or page …

Edit Post - Autosave notification

(Edit Post – Autosave notification)

Click on the link (‘View the autosave’) …

Autosave notification

(Autosave notification)

The Revisions section displays, allowing you to restore an autosaved version of your post …

Compare Revisions screen

(Revisions feature)

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

WordPress offers one-click post/page recovery of autosaved content

(WordPress offers one-click recovery of autosaved content)

Autosave recovers the content you were previously editing …

Autosave restores your post

(Autosave restores the content of your latest post revision)

Autosave – Additional Info

Content Recovery – Session Expired

Sometimes, a ‘Session expired’ notification will appear …

WordPress - session expired

(Session expired)

If you get logged out, WordPress remembers where you were. This allows you to log in again and pick up where you left off …

Session expired notice

(Session expired notice)

WordPress also warns you if the backup of the post you are currently looking at is different from the version displayed in the editor and gives you the opportunity to restore your autosaved 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

(Browser backup)

Your content will be recovered from your browser backup. Click ‘Undo’ to revert to the previous version of your content …

Post restored successfully!

(Your post is now 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

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

Another improvement made after WP 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

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

Post Revision Management System

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

Significant improvements were made to the revision control system interface after v. 3.6.

The new revision system also added new settings in the Publish box called Revisions, which allows you to know at a glance how many revisions you have made. and allows you to bring up the ‘Compare Revisions’ feature panel by clicking on the ‘Browse’ link …

WordPress automatically keeps a record of your post changes

(WordPress automatically records all changes made to your posts)

The Compare Revisions panel comes up …

Compare Revisions page

(Compare Revisions interface)

Practical Tip

Note: This function is available on Posts and Pages.

Comparing Revisions – Revision Slider

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

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

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

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

Revision slider

(Revision slider)

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

Autosave revision slider

(Autosave marker)

Comparing Revisions – Navigation

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

Move the button to the right or left of the slider

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

There are also buttons that assist you when navigating through each revision.

Click ‘Previous’ to navigate through earlier revisions …

Compare Revisions - 'Previous' button

(Compare Revisions – ‘Previous’ button)

Click ‘Next’ to review more recent versions …

Click 'Next' to view more recent revisions

(Click ‘Next’ to browse newer post revisions)

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

Compare any two revisions

(’Compare any two revisions’ checkbox)

This lets you adjust two sliders to compare any two post versions …

Compare 2 different revisions

(Compare any two post revisions)

Select the revision you want restored and click the ‘Restore This Revision’ button …

Click to restore revision

(Click to restore selected revision)

To exit and return to the post or page you’re working on, click on the title …

Click on the title of your post to return

(Click on the post title to return to the editor)

You can also cancel and return to the post editor by clicking Return to editor

Revisions - return to content editor

(Click to return to post editor)

WordPress Revisions – Additional Notes

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 usually require modifying code in WordPress files. If you don’t feel confident working with code, then contact your web host or get professional assistance.

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

Post Revisions List – Post Editor Screen

As soon as you create, edit, and save pages and posts, WordPress begins to store new revisions in its database. These appear in a Revisions list at the bottom of your content editor …

Post Editor section - Viewing the Revisions list

(Viewing the WordPress revisions list – Post Editor section)

If you can’t see the Revisions list in the Post editor screen, click on the Screen Options  tab at the top of your screen …

Post Editor - Screen Options tab

(Screen Options tab)

Make sure that the checkbox for ‘Revisions’ in the Boxes section is ticked …

Screen Options tab - Revisions

(Screen Options tab – Revisions)

You should now see the Revisions box displayed under your content editor section. Click any of the links to bring up the Revisions panel with saved content for that selected item …

Post Editor Screen: Revisions Box

(Post Editor: Revisions Box)

Revision Management WordPress Plugins

Autosave and revisions are no doubt features that help make work more efficient. If you write extensively, however, after a while the revisions can start building up. This can significantly increase 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

(Post revisions can really add up after a while)

For example, if there are 50 posts published on your site and each post has 20 revisions your database could be storing up to 1,000 copies of old data. If your post averages 100KB data, then with 1,000 revisions, the total space wasted is about 100MB.

The good news is that there are some great free 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 recover older page/post revisions.

Using WP Post Restore And Autosave

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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.