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.

WP & Revisions

Have you ever found yourself in this situation? After spending much time editing an article, something crashes and you suddenly find that you have lost all of your hard work because you didn’t save it?

If this ever happens and your website or blog is powered by WordPress, there’s no need to feel alarmed! WordPress has a powerful built-in autosave and content recovery system that:

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

This tutorial explains how to use the autosave and post revision management system of WordPress to recover and restore your pages and posts while working on your content.

The WordPress Autosave And Post Revisions Feature: Step-By-Step Tutorial

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

Post updated notification

(Edit Post – Post updated notice)

WordPress autosave and post revisions ensure that your content is saved at regular intervals, so you can undo changes to your drafts and revert back to older post revisions when something unexpected happens, for instance:

  • Your modem is suddenly disconnected,
  • Your web browser freezes up,
  • You’re struck by a power outage,
  • etc.

When this happens and you try to save your work, you might see a ‘WordPress Failure Notice’ like this displayed on your screen instead …

Failure Notice - WordPress

(Are you sure you want to do this?)

If you see the message Are you sure you want to do this? Please try again displayed and click on the ‘Please try again’ link, you will normally return to a post or page editing screen displaying a previous version of your post, minus any changes that you recently made.

This is where WordPress ‘autosave’ can help to avert disaster.

The Autosave Function

Autosaves are automatically enabled for all WordPress pages and posts and stored in the site’s database as a special type of revision so they won’t overwrite the post you’re currently working on.

By default, posts are automatically saved to your WordPress database every sixty seconds. This time interval can be changed by adding code to your wp-config.php file.

Important

Always make a complete backup of your data and files before modifying your website or blog.

If you are worried about editing code, feel free to get in touch for help.

If you have been working on your edits for a while and something happens (e.g. your wi-fi connection goes down temporarily), a There is an autosave of this post …’ warning like this may come up when you get back to editing your post or page …

Edit Post - Autosave notification

(Autosave notice)

Click on the ‘View the autosave’ link …

Edit Post - 'View the autosave'

(Click link to view the autosave)

You will be taken to a page where an autosaved version of your post can be restored …

Revisions feature panel

(Compare Revisions feature panel)

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

WordPress offers one-click content recovery

(WordPress offers one-click post/page recovery)

Autosave restores the content you were previously working on …

Autosave restores your latest post

(Autosave restores the content of your latest post revision)

WordPress Autosave – Additional Notes

Content Recovery – Session Expired

Sometimes, your login session will simply expire …

Session expired

(Session expired)

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 – log in again to continue working)

WordPress also warns you if the backup of the post you are currently working on is not the same as the version you see in the editor and gives you the opportunity to restore the autosaved 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.’ warning)

Click Restore the backup

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

(Restore backup)

Your content will be restored from the browser backup. You can also undo this operation by clicking the ‘Undo’ link …

Your post is restored!

(Post restored successfully from browser backup)

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

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

Post Revisions Feature – What Is It?

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

After WordPress 3.6, WordPress made significant enhancements to its content revision control function interface.

The new revision system included a new option to the Post/Page Publish box called Revisions. This automatically calculates how many revisions you have made. and allows you to quickly bring up the ‘Compare Revisions’ panel by clicking the ‘Browse’ link …

WordPress keeps a record of your changes

(WordPress automatically keeps a record of all changes made)

The Revisions section displays in your browser …

Compare Revisions section

(Revisions section)

Practical Tip

Note: This feature works the same way on Pages and Posts.

How To Compare Revisions – Revision Slider

When comparing 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 more revision segments will appear in the slider …

The more revisions, the longer the slider

(The more revisions, the longer the slider)

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

Revision

(Revision marker)

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

Autosave

(Autosave)

WordPress Revision Feature – Navigation Options

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

Move the revision slider to the right or left

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

There are also buttons to assist with navigation.

Click ‘Previous’ to review older post revisions …

Compare Revisions - 'Previous' button

(Click ‘Previous’ to view previous revisions)

Click ‘Next’ to compare more recent versions …

Click 'Next' to browse newer revisions

(Click ‘Next’ to view later revisions)

You can also compare revisions by selecting ‘Compare any two revisions’ …

'Compare any two revisions' option

(’Compare any two revisions’ box)

You can adjust the sliders to compare any two versions …

Compare 2 different revisions independently

(Compare any 2 revisions)

When you find the version you want to restore, click Restore This Revision

'Restore This Revision'

(’Restore This Revision’)

To exit without restoring any revisions, click on the title link of your post …

Click the post title to go back

(Click on the post title link to exit)

You can also leave the Compare Revisions page without making any changes by clicking on Return to editor

Click to return to editor

(Click to return to editor)

WordPress Post Revisions Function – Plugins

As mentioned earlier, there are some changes you can make to the WordPress revisions function such as changing the autosave interval and disabling the feature altogether, but these typically involve making edits to code in core installation files. If you are not confident working with code, then contact your web host or get professional assistance.

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

WordPress Post Revisions List – Post Editor Section

As soon as you save a post/page, WordPress begins to store revisions of your content in its database. These appear in a Revisions list below your post editor …

The WordPress revisions box - Post Editor screen

(Revisions box – Post Editor screen)

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

Post Editor - Screen Options tab

(Screen Options tab)

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

Screen Options tab - Revisions

(Screen Options tab – Revisions)

You will now see the Revisions list under your content. Clicking any of the links will bring up the Revisions screen with data for that selected item …

Revisions Box

(Revisions Box)

Revision Management Plugins

Autosave and revisions are no doubt functions that help make work more efficient. If you write or edit a lot of content, 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

(Your WordPress database could be storing lots of unnecessary data)

For example, if there are 250 posts published on your site and each post has an average of 10 revisions you could be storing around 2,500 copies of old data. If your post averages 100KB data, then with 2,500 revisions of that post, the total space wasted is about 250MB.

Fortunately, there are several 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 versions of your WordPress posts or pages.

The WordPress Autosave And Post Revisions 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 detailed step-by-step tutorials that will teach you how to use WordPress to grow your business online at minimal cost with no coding skills required!

Originally published as How To Use WordPress Autosave And Post Revisions.