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 …

How To Use The Autosave & Post Revisions Function Of WordPress

Have you ever experienced a situation where, after investing much time and effort composing an article, something crashes and you suddenly find that all of your hard work is gone because you did not remember to hit the ‘Save’ button as you went along?

If this happens, don’t panic! WordPress comes with a built-in autosave and revision management feature that:

  • Automatically saves earlier versions of your content,
  • Gets your post or page content back if something happens to your browser or computer while you’re working, and,
  • Lets you recover an earlier version if you’re unhappy with the content of an article.

In this step-by-step tutorial, you will learn how to use the WordPress autosave and post revision feature to automatically recover your pages and posts.

Post Revisions And Autosave Function Of WordPress: Step-By-Step Tutorial

Typically, after updating a page or post, a notice like the example below will display …

Edit Post - Post updated message

(Edit Post – Post updated message)

WordPress autosave and post revisions ensure that your content is regularly saved, allowing you to undo changes to your drafts and recover previous versions of your posts if something unexpectedly goes wrong, for example:

  • Your wireless connection falls down,
  • Your web browser freezes up,
  • You experience a temporary power outage,
  • Internet “gremlins” temporarily prevent you from saving or publishing your new post, etc.

If you try to save your work, you might end up seeing a ‘WordPress Failure Notice’ like this displayed on your screen instead …

WordPress Failure Notice

(WordPress Failure Notice)

When 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 return to a page or post edit screen displaying a previous version of your post, minus any recent changes.

This is where the WordPress autosave function can help you work more effectively.

Autosave

Autosaves are stored as a special kind of revision in your site’s database so they won’t overwrite the post or page you’re working on.

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.

Warning

We strongly recommend performing a backup of your site files and database before modifying your website.

If working with files inside your web server worries you, then contact us. We’ll be glad to assist you.

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 …’ warning like this when you return to editing your post …

Autosave notification

(Autosave notification)

Click on the link to view the autosave …

Autosave notification

(’View the autosave’ link)

You will be taken to a revision page where a previously saved version of your post can be restored …

Compare Revisions screen

(Revisions page)

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

WordPress offers one-click content recovery

(WordPress offers one-click content recovery)

The content of your latest post will be restored from autosave …

Autosave restores the content of your post

(Post revision recovered from Autosave)

Autosave – Additional Notes

Content Recovery – Session Expired

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

Session expired notice

(WordPress – session expired notice)

If your login session expires, WordPress remembers where you were. Log in again and continue working from 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 looking at is different from the version showing in the editor and gives you the opportunity to restore your autosaved backup.

Edit Post - Restore backup of post from browser

(Restore post backup)

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)

WordPress recovers the content from the browser backup …

Post restored successfully!

(Your post is 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 WP 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 …

Recover content after loss of internet connection

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

What Are Post Revisions?

Post Revisions were introduced to WordPress in version 2.6. Whenever a page or post is saved in WordPress, a revision is automatically created and stored in your WP database.

Significant enhancements were made to the WordPress revision control feature after version 3.6.

The new revision system also added a new option to the Post/Page Publish box called Revisions. This automatically calculates how many revisions you have made. Click the ‘Browse’ link to bring up the ‘Revisions’ screen …

WordPress keeps a record of your post changes

(Publish – Revisions)

The Compare Revisions feature loads on your screen …

Compare Revisions interface

(Revisions page)

Useful Tip

Note: revision management works the same on both Posts and Pages.

Comparing Revisions

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

The more revisions, the longer the slider

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

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

Revision slider

(Revision)

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

Autosave revision slider

(Autosave revision)

Comparing Revisions – Navigation

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

Move the button to the right or left of the slider

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

There are also buttons to help you navigate between revisions.

Click ‘Previous’ to view past revisions …

Click 'Previous' to view previous post revisions

(Compare Revisions – ‘Previous’ button)

Click ‘Next’ to move through your newer versions …

Click 'Next' to browse newer revisions

(Compare Revisions – ‘Next’ button)

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

Compare any two revisions

(Compare any two revisions)

Adjust the buttons independently to compare any two versions …

Compare any two revisions independently

(Compare any 2 post revisions independently)

When you find the revision you would like to restore, click Restore This Revision

Click to restore selected revision

(Click to restore post revision)

To go back to the current saved version of your post or page, click on the title of your page or post …

Click the title link to return

(Click the post title to return to the editor)

You can also cancel and go back to the post editor without making any changes by clicking Return to editor

Click to return to editor

(Click to return to post 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 typically involve making edits to WordPress files. If editing files inside your server worries you, 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 editing code.

Viewing The WordPress Revisions List – Post Editor Section

As soon as you save a post or page, WordPress begins to store new post revisions in its database. These show up in a Revisions list at the bottom of your post or page …

Post Editor section - View the post revisions list

(Viewing the WordPress revisions box)

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

Screen Options tab

(Post Editor – Screen Options tab)

Enable the checkbox next to ‘Revisions’ in the Boxes section …

Screen Options tab - Revisions

(Screen Options tab – Revisions)

You will now see the Revisions box under your content. Clicking any of the links will bring up the Revisions feature with saved data for the selected item …

Revisions Box

(Post Editor Screen: Revisions Box)

Managing Revisions – WordPress Plugins

For most WordPress users, having functions like autosave and revisions is no doubt very useful. If you write or edit a lot of content, however, over time the revisions can start building up. This can significantly increase the size of your WordPress database, so it’s important to also be able to manage your revisions.

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

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

For example, if you have 100 posts on your site and each post has an average of 20 revisions your database could be storing around 2,000 copies of old data. If your post is approximately 100KB data, then with 2,000 post revisions, the total database space wasted is about 200MB.

Fortunately, there are several free WordPress plugins available 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 post revisions.

The WordPress Post Restore And Autosave Feature

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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.