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How To Use WordPress Autosave And Post Revisions

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where, after investing much effort editing a post, something unexpected happens and you suddenly find that all of your hard work is gone because you didn’t hit the ‘Save’ button as you went along?

If this happens, don’t despair! WordPress has a built-in autosave and posts revision management feature that:

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

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

Generally, whenever you edit and save a page or post, you will see a confirmation message like the one shown in the example below …

(Edit Post – Post updated notification)

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

If this happens and you try to save your work, you might end up seeing a ‘WordPress Failure Notice’ message like this instead …

(Failure Notice – WordPress)

If you see the message Are you sure you want to do this? Please try again displayed 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 WordPress ‘autosave’ can be very useful.

The Autosave Function Of WordPress

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

By default, WordPress autosaves your post in your WordPress database every 60 seconds. This interval can be changed by modifying code in your wp-config.php file.

Always make a complete backup of your site files and database before updating any files on your website.

If you are not confident working with code, feel free to get in touch for help.

If you have been working for a while and something happens (e.g. your internet connection temporarily drops), you may see a There is an autosave of this post …’ warning like the one shown below when you return to editing your post or page …

(Autosave notice)

Click on ‘View the autosave’ …

(’View the autosave’)

You will be taken to the Revisions feature where a previously saved version of your post can be restored …

(Revisions interface)

WordPress offers one-click restore. Click Restore This Autosave

(WordPress offers one-click restore)

Autosave restores the content of your post …

(Post revision restored from Autosave)

WordPress Post Autosave – Additional Notes

Content Recovery – Session Expired

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

(WordPress – session expired notice)

If you get logged out, WordPress remembers where you were, so when you log in again, you can pick up where you left off …

(Session expired notice – log in again to continue working)

WordPress also warns you if the backup of the post you are working on is different from the version displayed in the content editor and gives you the opportunity to restore the autosaved backup.

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

Click on ‘Restore the backup’ …

(Browser backup)

Your post will be recovered from the browser backup …

(Your post has been successfully 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)

Another improvement made after WordPress 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 losing internet connection. Source: WordPress 4.6 updates)

Revision Management

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

Significant enhancements were made to the WordPress revision control system interface after WordPress 3.6.

The new revision system now includes new settings in the Page/Post Publish box called Revisions. This automatically calculates how many revisions you have made. and lets you easily bring up the ‘Compare Revisions’ page by clicking on the ‘Browse’ link …

(Publish Box – Revisions)

The Revisions panel displays in your browser …

(Revisions page)

Note: post revision control is the same for WordPress Pages and Posts.

How To Compare Revisions

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

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

When you edit content and update pages or posts, your revisions display in the slider highlighted in black, with the save interval, time, and date of the revision …

(Revision slider)

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

(Autosave revision slider)

How To Compare Revisions – How to Use The Revision Slider

You can navigate between sequential post revisions by moving the revision slider to the left or right …

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

There are also buttons to help you navigate between revisions.

Click ‘Previous’ to view past revisions …

(Click ‘Previous’ to browse earlier post revisions)

Click ‘Next’ to browse more recent versions …

(Compare Revisions – ‘Next’ button)

As well as comparing sequential revisions, the feature lets you compare revisions by ticking the ‘Compare any two revisions’ box …

(Compare any two revisions)

Adjust the buttons independently to compare any two post revisions …

(Compare two different revisions independently)

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

(‘Restore This Revision’ button)

To cancel the operation and go back to the current saved version of your page or post, click the title link …

(Click the post title to exit)

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

(Click to return to content 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 usually require making modifications to code. If you are concerned about working with files inside your server, then contact your web host or get professional assistance.

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

Revisions Box

As soon as you edit and update a page/post, WordPress begins to store new revisions in its database. These show up in a Revisions section below your content editor …

(Post Editor screen – The WordPress revisions list)

If you can’t see the Revisions area, click on the Screen Options  tab near the top of the screen …

(Post Editor – Screen Options tab)

Make sure that the box for ‘Revisions’ in the Boxes section is checked …

(Screen Options tab – Revisions)

You will now see the Revisions list under your content. Clicking the links will bring up the Compare Revisions panel …

(Revisions Box)

Managing Revisions Using Plugins

Autosave and revisions are no doubt functions that help create a more effective workflow. If you write or edit extensively, however, over time the 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)

For example, if you have 200 posts on your site with an average of 10 revisions each your database could be storing around 3,000 copies of unnecessary data. If your post is approximately 100KB data, then with 3,000 revisions of that post, the total space wasted is about 300MB.

Fortunately, there are some really great (and free) plugins that can help you control and 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 saved post/page revisions.


"I have used the tutorials to teach all of my clients and it has probably never been so easy for everyone to learn WordPress ... Now I don't need to buy all these very expensive video courses that often don't deliver what they promise." - Stefan Wendt, Internet Marketing Success Group

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