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 Autosave Post Revisions Feature

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where, after investing much effort editing an article, something crashes and you suddenly find that you have lost all of your hard work because you forgot to save it?

If this happens, then worry not! WordPress has a powerful autosave and post revision management system that:

  • Automatically saves earlier versions of your content,
  • Gets your post or page back if your browser crashes while you’re working, and,
  • Lets you restore an older draft if you’ve changed the content of an article and would like to backtrack.

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

The WordPress Autosave Post Revisions Feature: Tutorial

Normally, after updating a post or page, a confirmation message like this will display …

Edit Post - Post updated message

(Post updated notice)

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

  • Your modem is suddenly disconnected,
  • Your internet browser crashes,
  • Power outages,
  • etc.

If you try to save your work, a ‘WordPress Failure Notice’ like this may end up being displayed instead …

Failure Notice - WordPress

(Failure Notice – WordPress)

When you get a message that says “Are you sure you want to do this? Please try again” and click on ‘Please try again’, you will normally be taken back to a screen displaying an earlier version of your post, minus any changes that you recently made.

This is where the autosave feature of WordPress can be really handy.

The Autosave Function Of WordPress

In WordPress, the autosave function is automatically enabled for all posts and pages, but this does not overwrite your published content.

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

Warning

We strongly recommend making a backup of your data and files before making any changes to any files on your website or blog.

If you feel worried about working with files inside your server, feel free to get in touch for help.

If you were working on your post for a while and something happens (e.g. your browser crashes), you could see a notice like the one shown below when you go back to your post …

Autosave notification

(Autosave notice)

Click on the link to view the autosave …

Click link to view the autosave

(View the autosave)

The Compare Revisions page comes up, allowing you to restore an autosaved version of your article …

Compare Revisions section

(Compare Revisions page)

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

WordPress offers one-click content recovery

(WordPress offers one-click recovery of autosaved content)

The content you were previously working on will be recovered from autosave …

Post content restored from Autosave

(Autosave restores your latest post)

Autosave – Additional Notes

Content Recovery – Session Expired

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

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)

WordPress also warns you if the backup of the post you are currently looking at is not the same as the version showing in the editor and gives you the opportunity to restore the saved backup version.

Restore post from browser backup

(Restore backup)

Click Restore the backup

Browser backup

(Restore post from browser backup)

WordPress recovers and restores the content from the browser backup. Click ‘Undo’ to undo this operation …

Post recovered successfully from browser backup

(Post restored successfully!)

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 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 losing internet connection

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

Revision Management

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

WordPress overhauled the post revision control feature interface in WordPress v. 3.6.

The new revision system now includes new settings in the Post/Page Publish box called Revisions. This automatically calculates how many revisions you have made to your post/page. Click ’Browse’ to quickly view the ‘Revisions’ panel …

Publish Box - Revisions

(WordPress tracks all post changes)

The Compare Revisions interface displays on your screen …

Revisions feature

(Revisions page)

Useful Tip

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

Comparing Revisions – Revision Slider

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

The more revisions, the longer the slider

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

Revisions created by making changes to content and updating your page or post display in the slider highlighted in black, along with the save interval, time, and date of the post revision …

Revision

(Revision slider)

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

Autosave revision

(Revision slider – autosave)

Revision Control – Navigation

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

Move the revision slider button to the left or right

(Move the revision slider to the right or left)

There are also buttons to help you compare different revisions.

Click ‘Previous’ to inspect older post revisions …

Compare Revisions - 'Previous' button

(Click ‘Previous’ to view older revisions)

Click ‘Next’ to review more recent versions …

Click 'Next' to view later revisions

(Compare Revisions – ‘Next’ button)

You can also select and compare revisions by enabling the ‘Compare any two revisions’ option …

Compare any two revisions

(Compare any two revisions)

You can adjust the slider buttons to compare any two revisions …

Compare 2 different post revisions independently

(Compare 2 different post revisions)

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

Click to restore revision

(’Restore This Revision’)

To exit and return to the current version of your page/post, click the post title …

Click on the post title to go back to the editor

(Click on the post title link to go back)

You can also exit by clicking Return to editor

Compare Revisions - return to content editor

(Click to return to content editor)

WordPress Revisions Management – Additional Information

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

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

Post Revisions Box – Post Editor Section

As soon as you create, edit, and update pages and posts, WordPress begins to store new revisions in its database. You can see these displayed in a Revisions section below the page editor …

Post Editor section - View the WordPress revisions list

(Post Editor screen – The WordPress post revisions list)

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

Screen Options tab

(Screen Options tab)

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

Post Editor: Screen Options tab - Revisions

(Post Editor: Screen Options tab – Revisions)

You should now see the Revisions box below your content. Clicking a link will bring up the Revisions feature with saved information for your selected item …

Revisions Box

(Revisions Box)

Managing Post Revisions Using Plugins

Autosave and post revisions are no doubt functions that help create a more productive workflow. If you write and edit extensively, however, the number of revisions can start to build up. This can significantly grow the size of your WordPress database, so it’s important to also 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 200 posts published on your site and each post has an average of 15 revisions you could be storing an extra 3,000 copies of unnecessary data. If your post averages 100KB data, then with 3,000 revisions, the total database space wasted is about 300MB.

Fortunately, there are some really great (and free) plugins 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 saved page/post revisions.

How To Use The Post Recovery Function Of WordPress

***

"I was absolutely amazed at the scope and breadth of these tutorials! The most in-depth training I have ever received on any subject!" - Myke O'Neill, DailyGreenPost.com

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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.