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.

The WordPress Post Restore & Autosave Feature

Have you ever been in a situation where, after spending a great deal of time and effort editing an article, something unexpected happens and you suddenly find that you have lost all of your hard work because you forgot to hit the ‘Save’ button as you went along?

If this happens, there’s no need to despair! WordPress has a powerful built-in autosave and revision function that:

  • Helps you prevent losing your work if you forget to save,
  • Can get your post or page back if something happens to your browser or computer while you’re working, and,
  • Lets you restore an earlier draft if you’re unhappy with the content of an article.

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

Using WordPress Autosave And Content Revisions: Tutorial

Typically, when you update a post or page, a message like the example below will display …

Post updated message

(Post updated notice)

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

  • The internet falls down,
  • Your browser crashes,
  • You experience a temporary power outage,
  • etc.

If you try to save your work, a message like this may end up being displayed instead …

WordPress Post Save Error Message

(Failure Notice – WordPress)

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

This is where the autosave function of WordPress becomes useful.

WordPress Autosave

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

By default, WordPress saves the current version of your post in the WordPress database every 60 seconds. This time interval can be changed by modifying code in your wp-config.php file.

Important

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

If you feel nervous about working with code, feel free to contact us. We’ll be glad to help you.

If you have been working for a while and something happens (e.g. your wireless connection temporarily drops), you could see a notification like the one shown below when you return to your post or page …

Edit Post - Autosave notification

(Autosave notification)

Click on the ‘View the autosave’ link …

Click to view the autosave

(Autosave notification)

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

Compare Revisions page

(Revisions section)

WordPress offers one-click recovery of autosaved content. Click ‘Restore This Autosave’ …

WordPress offers one-click restore of autosaved content

(WordPress offers one-click recovery of autosaved content)

Autosave restores the content you were editing …

Autosave restores the content of your latest post revision

(Autosave restores the content of your latest post)

WordPress Post/Page Autosave – Additional Notes

Content Recovery – Session Expired

Sometimes, a ‘Session expired’ message will pop-up …

WordPress - session expired

(WordPress – 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 - 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 currently looking at is different from the version showing in the editor and gives you the opportunity to restore the saved backup.

Edit Post - Restore post backup

(Restore post backup)

Click on ‘Restore the backup’ …

Browser backup

(Browser backup)

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

Post restored from browser backup

(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 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

(Recover content after loss of internet connection. Source: WordPress 4.6 updates)

What Is The Post Revisions Feature?

The Post Revisions feature was introduced in WordPress v. 2.6. Whenever you saves a post or a page, it automatically creates a revision and stores it in the WordPress database.

After v. 3.6, WordPress made significant enhancements to its post/page revision control function interface.

The new WordPress revision system included new settings in the Post/Page Publish box called Revisions. This allows you to see at a glance how many revisions you have made to your post/page. and lets you quickly bring up the ‘Revisions’ screen by clicking on the ‘Browse’ link …

WordPress keeps track of all changes you make

(WordPress keeps a record of your changes)

The Compare Revisions area comes up …

Compare Revisions interface

(Compare Revisions interface)

Tip

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

Comparing Revisions

When you compare post or page revisions, a Revision Slider displays at the top of the screen, allowing you to move through different saved revisions. The more revisions you have, the longer your slider will be …

The more revisions, the longer the slider

(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 post revision …

Revision

(Revision)

When WordPress automatically saves your post or page, your revisions appear in the slider highlighted in red, along with the save interval, time, and date of the post/page revision …

Revision slider - autosave

(Autosave marker)

Revision Feature – Navigation Options

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

Move the button to the right or left of the slider

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

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

Click ‘Previous’ to inspect older post revisions …

Click 'Previous' to view older post revisions

(Click ‘Previous’ to view previous revisions)

Click ‘Next’ to view your newer versions …

Compare Revisions - 'Next' button

(Compare Revisions – ‘Next’ button)

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

Compare any two revisions

(’Compare any two revisions’ check box)

Adjust the slider buttons independently to compare any two saved revisions …

Compare any 2 post revisions independently

(Compare 2 different revisions independently)

When you find the saved version you want restored, click Restore This Revision

'Restore This Revision' button

(’Restore This Revision’)

To cancel the operation and exit without restoring any revisions, click the title link of your page or post …

Click on the post title to go back

(Click on the title link to go back)

You can also leave the Revisions page by clicking on Return to editor

'Return to editor'

(’Return to 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 or even disabling the feature altogether, but these generally require making edits to code in core files. If you feel hesitant about working with code, then contact your web host or get professional assistance.

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

Post Editor Section – Viewing The Revisions List

As soon as you create, edit, and save pages and posts, WordPress begins to store revisions of the content in its database. You can see these displayed in a Revisions box at the bottom of your page editor …

Viewing the WordPress post revisions box - Post Editor screen

(Post revisions box)

If the Revisions area isn’t visible, click the Screen Options  tab near the top right-hand corner of your screen …

Post Editor - Screen Options tab

(Screen Options tab)

Tick the checkbox for ‘Revisions’ in the Boxes section …

Post Editor: Screen Options tab - Revisions

(Screen Options tab – Revisions)

You should now see the Revisions list under your content. Clicking a link will bring up the Compare Revisions feature with related content for your item …

Revisions Box

(Revisions Box)

Revision Management Using Plugins

Autosave and post revisions are no doubt functions that help make work more productive. If you write and edit often, however, the revisions can start to build up. This can significantly increase the size of your WordPress database, so it’s important to manage your revisions.

Post revisions can really add up after a while

(As you write more posts on your site, your database could be storing lots of unnecessary data)

For example, if there are 50 posts on your site and each post has an average of 20 revisions you could be storing around 1,000 copies of old data. If your post is approximately 100KB data, then with 1,000 post revisions, the total space wasted is about 100MB.

The good news is that there are a number of WordPress plugins to help you 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 page/post revisions.

The WordPress Revisions And Autosave Feature

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"These tutorials have so much information and are easy to understand. If you use WordPress or plan to in the future these will help you with everything you need to know." - Valisa (Mesa, Arizona)

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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.