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 …

WordPress Autosave & Post/Page Recovery

Have you ever been in this situation? After investing a great deal of time and effort composing a new post, something unexpected happens and you suddenly find that all of your hard work is lost because you did not remember to hit the ‘Save’ button as you went along?

If this happens and you use WordPress, then worry not! WordPress has an autosave and content recovery system that:

  • Automatically saves earlier versions of your posts and pages,
  • Gets your page or post content back if your web browser crashes while you’re working, and,
  • Lets you restore an earlier version if you changed the content in an article.

In this step-by-step tutorial, you will learn how to use the built-in WordPress autosave and post revision function to easily save, recover, and restore your posts and pages.

Revisions And Autosave Function Of WordPress: Tutorial

Typically, whenever you edit and update a page or post, you will see a confirmation notice like the example below …

Edit Post - Post updated notification

(Post updated message)

WordPress autosave and post revisions ensure that your content is saved at regular intervals, allowing you to recover previous post revisions if something unexpected happens, for example:

  • Your wi-fi is temporarily disconnected,
  • Your browser crashes,
  • You experience a power outage,
  • Internet “gremlins” temporarily prevent you from saving or publishing a new post, etc.

When this happens and you try to save your work, a message like this may end up being displayed on your screen instead …

WordPress Failure Notice

(WordPress Failure Notice)

If you get a message that says 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 a page or post editing screen displaying an older version of your post, minus any changes that you recently made.

This is where WordPress ‘autosave’ can help you avoid disaster.

Autosave

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

By default, posts are autosaved to your WordPress database every sixty seconds. This interval can be changed by modifying code in your wp-config.php file.

Warning

We strongly recommend performing a full backup of your website before making any changes to website files.

If you don’t feel comfortable working with files inside your web server, feel free to get in touch. We’ll be glad to help you.

If you have been working for a while and something happens (e.g. your browser crashes), a There is an autosave of this post that is more recent than the version below’ notification like the one shown below may come up when you return to editing your post or page …

Edit Post - Autosave notification

(Edit Post – Autosave notification)

Click on the ‘View the autosave’ link …

'View the autosave' link

(Edit Post – Autosave notification)

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

Compare Revisions panel

(Revisions feature panel)

WordPress offers one-click post recovery of autosaved content. Click Restore This Autosave

WordPress offers one-click recovery of autosaved content

(WordPress offers one-click recovery of autosaved content)

Your content will be recovered from autosave …

Autosave restores your post

(Post restored from Autosave)

WordPress Autosave – Additional Notes

Content Recovery – Session Expired

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

WordPress - session expired notice

(WordPress – session expired)

If you get logged out, WordPress remembers where you were, so when 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 you see in the content editor and gives you the opportunity to restore the saved backup.

Restore post from browser backup

(Restore backup of post saved in browser)

Click Restore the backup

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

(Browser backup)

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

Post restored successfully!

(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 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)

Revision Control Feature

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

Significant enhancements were made to the WordPress content revision control function after WP 3.6.

The new revision system also added a new option to the Publish box called Revisions, which allows you to immediately see how many revisions you have made. Click on the ‘Browse’ link to access the ‘Compare Revisions’ feature panel …

Publish - Revisions

(WordPress automatically saves all post changes)

The Compare Revisions page loads in your browser …

Revisions screen

(Compare Revisions feature)

Tip

Note: This function is the same for Posts and Pages.

Comparing Revisions

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

The more revisions, the longer the slider

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

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

Revision

(Revision slider)

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

Autosave revision

(Autosave)

Comparing Revisions – Options

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

Move the revision slider to the right or left

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

There are also buttons that assist you when navigating through your revisions.

Click ‘Previous’ to review past revisions …

Compare Revisions - 'Previous' button

(Compare Revisions – ‘Previous’ button)

Click ‘Next’ to advance through more recent revisions …

Compare Revisions - 'Next' button

(Click ‘Next’ to view more recent revisions)

In addition to comparing sequential post revisions, the feature lets you compare any two revisions side by side by ticking ‘Compare any two revisions’ …

Compare any two revisions

(Compare any two revisions)

Adjust the buttons independently to compare any two post versions …

Compare 2 revisions

(Compare two different post revisions)

Choose the version you would like restored and click the ‘Restore This Revision’ button …

'Restore This Revision'

(‘Restore This Revision’ button)

To exit without restoring a revision, click on the title …

Click on the title of your post to go back

(Click the post title to exit)

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

Click to return to post editor

(’Return to editor’)

WordPress Revisions – Plugins And Additional Notes

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

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

Post Editor Screen – Viewing The WordPress Revisions Box

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

WordPress revisions list

(Post Editor section – View the revisions list)

If you can’t see the Revisions list in the Post editor screen, click on the Screen Options  tab in the top right-hand corner of the screen …

Post Editor - Screen Options tab

(Screen Options tab)

Enable the checkbox 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 editor section. Click any of the links to bring up the Revisions page …

Post Editor Screen: Revisions Box

(Post Editor: Revisions Box)

Revision Management Plugins

Having access to effective workflow features like autosave and automatic revisions is no doubt a great thing. If you write often, however, 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

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

For example, if there are 300 posts on your site with an average of 10 revisions each your database could be storing around 6,000 copies of old data. If your post averages 100KB data, then with 6,000 post revisions, the total database space wasted is about 600MB.

Fortunately, there are a number of free plugins for WordPress 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 earlier revisions of your WordPress pages and posts.

The WordPress And Revisions Feature

***

"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 owner of WPCompendium.org and the author of The WordPress User Manual. 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.