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How To Use WordPress Autosave And Post Revisions

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

If this happens, there’s no need to despair! WordPress comes with a powerful built-in autosave and content recovery function that:

In this tutorial, we will show you how to use the autosave and content recovery management system of WordPress to restore your pages and posts.

The WordPress Post Restore And Autosave Feature: Tutorial

Typically, after updating a post or page, you will see a confirmation notice like this …

(Edit Post – Post updated notification)

WordPress post revisions ensure that your content is regularly saved, allowing you to revert back to previous versions of your posts when an unlikely event were to happen, such as:

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

(WordPress Failure Notice)

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

This is where ’autosave’ can bring you peace of mind.

The Autosave Feature Of WordPress

In WordPress, autosaves are automatically enabled for all pages and posts, but this does not overwrite any content that has already been published.

By default, posts are saved to your database every 60 seconds. This interval can be changed by adding code to your wp-config.php file.

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

If you don’t feel comfortable working with code, feel free to get in touch for assistance.

If you were working on your post for a while and something happens (e.g. your browser crashes), you may see a message like this when you get back to your post …

(Edit Post – Autosave notification)

Click on the link to view the autosave …

(Click link to view the autosave)

The Compare Revisions area displays, allowing you to recover a previously saved version of your article …

(Revisions area)

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

(WordPress offers one-click recovery)

Autosave restores the content of your latest post revision …

(Post recovered from Autosave)

WordPress Autosave – Additional Notes

Content Recovery – Session Expired

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

(Session expired)

If your login session expires, WordPress remembers where you were. This allows you to log in again and continue working from where you left off …

(Session expired notice)

WordPress also warns you if the backup of the post you are currently looking at is different from the version showing in the content editor and gives you the opportunity to restore your saved version.

(’The backup of this post in your browser is different from the version below.’ notice)

Click Restore the backup

(Browser backup)

WordPress recovers and restores your post from your browser backup …

(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 …

(Recover content if you lose your internet connection)

Another improvement made after WP 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. Source: WordPress 4.6 updates)

Post Revision Management Function

Post Revisions were introduced in WordPress v. 2.6. Whenever a WordPress post or a page is saved, it automatically creates a revision and stores it in the WordPress database.

After WP version 3.6, WordPress made significant improvements to its post/page revision control feature.

The new revision system now includes a new option to the Post/Page Publish box called Revisions. This allows you to immediately see how many revisions you have made. Click ’Browse’ to easily view the ‘Revisions’ feature panel …

(Publish Box – Revisions)

The Revisions interface comes up …

(Compare Revisions screen)

Note: This feature is available on Posts and Pages.

How To Compare Revisions – Revision Slider

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

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

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


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


How To Compare Revisions – How to Use The Revision Slider

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

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

There are also buttons to help you navigate between revisions.

Click ‘Previous’ to view past versions …

(Compare Revisions – ‘Previous’ button)

Click ‘Next’ to compare more recent versions …

(Compare Revisions – ‘Next’ button)

In addition to comparing sequential page/post revisions, WordPress lets you select and compare different revisions by enabling ‘Compare any two revisions’ …

(’Compare any two revisions’ option)

You can adjust the sliders to compare any two versions …

(Compare any 2 revisions independently)

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

(Click to restore selected revision)

To cancel the operation and return to the current version of your post or page, click the title …

(Click on the title of your post to return)

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

(Click to return to 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 disabling the feature altogether, but these generally involve editing code. If you feel uncomfortable about editing files inside your server, 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 – View The Revisions List

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

(Viewing the WordPress post revisions list)

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

(Post Editor – Screen Options tab)

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

(Screen Options tab – Revisions)

You should now see the Revisions list under your content. Clicking the links will bring up the Revisions screen with saved content for that item …

(Revisions Box)

Revision Management WordPress Plugins

Autosave and post revisions are no doubt features that help make work more efficient. If you write or edit extensively, however, the number of revisions can start building up. This can significantly bloat the size of your WordPress database, so it’s important to manage your revisions.

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

For example, if there are 100 posts published on your site and each post has an average of 20 revisions you could be storing up to 2,000 copies of old data. If your post averages 100KB data, then with 2,000 revisions of that post, the total space wasted is about 200MB.

The good news is that there are some great WordPress plugins available that can 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 recover earlier post and page revisions.


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