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How To Use WordPress Autosave And Post Revisions

Have you ever been in this situation? After investing a great deal of time and effort editing an article, something goes wrong and you suddenly find that all of your hard work is now gone because you did not remember to save it?

If this ever happens and you use WordPress, then worry not! WordPress has a built-in autosave and content recovery management system that:

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

How To Use The Autosave & Post Recovery Function Of WordPress: Step-By-Step Tutorial

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

(Edit Post – Post updated successfully!)

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

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

(Failure Notice – WordPress)

If you a message that says Are you sure you want to do this? Please try again pops up on your screen and you click on ‘Please try again’, you will normally return to a post/page editing screen displaying a previous version of your post, minus any recent changes.

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

WordPress Autosave

Autosave is automatically enabled for all WordPress pages and posts, but this does not overwrite any published content.

By default, WordPress saves the current version of your post in your database every sixty seconds. This interval can be changed by modifying code in your wp-config.php file.

Always make a complete backup of your website before updating website files.

If you are not comfortable editing code, then contact us for help.

If you were working for a while and something happens (e.g. your internet connection is temporarily disconnected), a There is an autosave of this post that is more recent than the version below’ notification like the one shown below may come up when you get back to editing your post or page …

(Autosave notification)

Click on the ‘View the autosave’ link …

(Edit Post – Autosave notification)

The Revisions feature comes up, allowing you to recover a previously saved version of your post …

(Compare Revisions section)

Click Restore This Autosave

(WordPress offers one-click post/page recovery)

Autosave recovers the post …

(Post recovered from Autosave)

Autosave – Additional Information

Content Recovery – Session Expired

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

(WordPress – session expired notice)

If you get logged out, WordPress remembers where you were. Login again and pick up where you left off …

(Session expired notice)

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

(Edit Post – Restore backup)

Click on ‘Restore the backup’ …

(Browser backup)

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

(Post restored successfully!)

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 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 …

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

Post Revisions Feature – What Is It?

The Post Revisions feature was introduced in WordPress version 2.6. Whenever a page or post is saved, it automatically creates a revision and stores it in your WordPress database.

Significant improvements were made to the post revision control system interface after v. 3.6.

The new WordPress revision system included a new option to the Post/Page Publish box called Revisions. This automatically calculates how many revisions you have made to your post/page. Click ’Browse’ to easily access the ‘Revisions’ section …

(Publish – Revisions)

The Compare Revisions panel loads in your browser …

(Compare Revisions interface)

Note: revision management is the same for WordPress 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, the longer the slider)

When you edit content and update your post or page, your revisions show up in the revision slider in black, along with the save interval, time, and date of the post revision …

(Revision slider)

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

(Autosave revision slider)

Revision Management – Navigation

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

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

There are also buttons to assist with navigation.

Click ‘Previous’ to view earlier revisions …

(Click ‘Previous’ to view previous post revisions)

Click ‘Next’ to review your newer versions …

(Click ‘Next’ to browse newer post revisions)

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

(Compare any two revisions)

Adjust the sliders independently to compare any two revisions …

(Compare 2 different post revisions)

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

(Click to restore selected revision)

To cancel the operation and exit, click the title link …

(Click on the title link to exit)

You can also exit without making any changes by clicking on Return to editor

(Compare Revisions – return to editor)

WordPress Revisions Control – Additional Information

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 making modifications to code in WordPress files. If working with files inside your server makes you hesitant, then contact your web host or get professional assistance.

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

View The Revisions List – Post Editor Screen

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

(Post revisions box)

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

(Screen Options tab)

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

(Screen Options tab – Revisions)

You will now see the Revisions list displayed under the editor section. Clicking a link will bring up the Revisions panel with saved data for the item …

(Post Editor: Revisions Box)

Managing Post Revisions – WordPress Plugins

Autosave and revisions are no doubt functions that help make work more productive. If you write and edit extensively, however, the revisions can start to build up. This can significantly increase the size of your WordPress database, so it’s important to also be able to manage your revisions.

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

For example, if you have 100 posts published on your site and each post has an average of 10 revisions you could be storing around 1,000 copies of unnecessary data. If your post averages 100KB data, then with 1,000 post revisions, the total space wasted is about 100MB.

Fortunately, there are several plugins for WordPress 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/page revisions.


"Wow! I never knew there's so much to learn about WordPress! I bought one of the WordPress for Dummies three years ago, such authors need to be on this course!" - Rich Law, Create A Blog Now