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WordPress Revisions: The Complete Beginner’s Guide (2021)

Last Updated on September 1st, 2021

Published on June 11th, 2020

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Are you looking for a tool that will help you create adjustments and revisions on your posts or pages or even in between them? You don’t need to look around and find it elsewhere as WordPress itself has a built-in Post Revisions tool or simply, Revisions.

If you’re worried about unfortunate events while doing content creation like, your browser crashed, or there’s a power outage, or maybe you accidentally deleted something and want to undo that action, or you’re in the middle of a collaboration project with your team, and someone on your team makes a mistake. Hot mess, right? You don’t need to think of those things anymore, as revisions on WordPress will help you sort it out. We are here to give you a quick rundown of what WordPress revision is, how to delete revisions, limit the number of saved revisions, and everything you need to know about revisions. Here is the Complete Guide for WordPress Revisions.

What is WordPress Revisions?

If you’re working on a post, you need a helping hand to check your grammar, spelling, punctuation, and everything you need to proofread your content. For starters, you don’t need any plugins to make it happen. Post revisions or revisions on WordPress allows you to do that. WordPress Revisions permits you to make changes by undoing things that you did on accident. WordPress also has the auto-save feature that lets you create a backup or temporarily save files for unexpected things that may occur every 60 secs. With revisions, you can always have the save draft, publish and update buttons. This tool will assist us a lot in terms of content creation. 

Before we proceed through the different ways on how to use the WordPress revision, it is important to know where to find it. For starters, if you are using the updated WordPress or also known as the Gutenberg Block editor, or the classic editor, you’ll notice how the two are different from one another. Below is the look from the Gutenberg Block editor.

And this one below is how it will look from the classic editor.

To find the revision, go to the Editor screen of your page or post, then go to the right-hand menu and simply click on the Document tab. Under the Status and Visibility section, it will display how many revisions were made. 

Take note that whatever version of editor you’re using, a comparison column will show up and it will always be the same for both versions. To do this, click on the revisions and it will display a column that is divided into two sides: the left side and the right side. The one on the left has a red color which indicates the old revision while on the right side, it has a green color that shows the newest revision of a certain page or post. This color indication highlights the changes made in a post. By having these, you can understand what changes are made, who made the changes, and what time it was changed. 

As you’ve noticed, WordPress shows the full code of your posts or pages selected in this comparison table. It might be too complicated to read but it is done this way for accuracy. 

WordPress’ default settings automatically show a comparison between the two of your most recent versions. Although you can select what revisions you’re going to compare by checking the “Compare any two revisions” box and navigate all of your revisions by using the slider that is placed on top of the page.

If you see You can also navigate through the revisions by using the “Previous” and “Next” buttons

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WordPress Revisions Pros & Cons

After learning the basics, here is the list of pros and cons of Revisions that you need to take into consideration.

Pros

  • Revisions create a permanent save file that is stored on the WordPress database. It will create a revision file on the right side of the WordPress and users can always go back to check and restore their changes.
  • You can compare any two different revisions from each other and see what changes are made. 
  • If you’re working on a group project or teams, revision tracks records of people who made changes with the username and timestamp saved along.

Cons

  • The only drawback from the revision is, in every revision made, it adds up to the WordPress database, and may result in slow loading time because of the storage it occupies. Remember, the larger the database, the larger the storage is needed.

How to Enable WordPress Revisions

Revisions made at WordPress are automatically enabled by default. If you want to manually enable revisions simply go to wp-config.php file on your WordPress root directory. If you already located and open the file, search for this particular line of code:

define( 'WP_POST_REVISIONS', false );

Then, change the value false to true, to enable revisions, and every time a revision is made, it is automatically stored.

Another thing you can do is when you open the file and you didn’t find that line of code, you can also copy this code: 

define( 'WP_POST_REVISIONS', true);

and insert it above the “/* That’s all, stop editing! Happy publishing. */“ and “ABSPATH

It must look like this:

After configuring, don’t forget to save the file. To check if it’s good and running properly, open the editor on any post or page then go to the Document tab and look for the Revisions option. 

How to Disable WordPress Revisions

You can manually disable the WordPress revisions to save up some storage space but we don’t recommend doing that. But, if you don’t see any purpose in having it on your site, then you can simply go again to the WordPress root directory at wp-config.php file then change the value from true to false. 

define( ‘WP_POST_REVISIONS’, false );

After doing this, It won’t save any revisions that are more than one and the autosave feature will continue doing its work. If you’re not confident enough to configure the file, we have an alternative. Install the Disable Post Revision plugin. Download it first and install it. After installation, go to the Settings then Writings in your WordPress dashboard. 

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Now, go to Disable Post Revisions then select Revisions. Choose the posts or pages that you want to disable your revisions for. Afterward, save your file and check again if it’s running properly. As simple as that. 

Don’t forget to save the file and check again if it’s running properly by going to the editor tab. 

How to Preview Old Revisions

Unfortunately, WordPress doesn’t have any other way to see your old revisions but if you truly want to see what your old revisions look like, you can install the PublishPress Revisions

If you are on a certain post on WordPress, you can also see a “Preview/Restore” button at the top. 

Clicking the button will bring you to the front of your site where you can see your revision. At the top bar of the page, you will see this message “This is a Past Revision”, and the date & time. Along with the message comes three options: Compare, View Published Post and Restore. Compare is where the current revisions are compared while View Published Post allows you to see the live current version of your site and Restore is replacing the current version with the older version. 

How to Delete Old Revisions

Deleting old revisions is one way of getting enough storage space for your site and by doing so, your website will surely load faster. There are two ways you can delete your old revisions. The first one is by installing a plugin and the other one is by configuring the files manually. We usually recommend using a plugin for a faster and convenient way to delete old revisions. And we have here, WP-Sweep.

WP-Sweep is a free easy to use a plugin that allows you to “sweep” your old post revisions from the database. To install, simply go to the Plugins then Add New from your WordPress Dashboard. Search WP-Sweep then click Install Now. After installation, you can now Activate the plugin.

Upon activation, go to Tools then Sweep

It will bring to a screen and you’ll see a full detailed list of revisions and the total number of revisions had. If you want to access a list of posts that will be affected, you can simply click on Details.

After you review all of the details and information and no essential elements will be affected by the deletion, then proceed to the Sweep button. Every time you sweep through your revisions, a dialogue box will appear on the top and will show the number of revisions processed. You can also repeat this process for every item that is listed on the list. 

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For performance reasons, take note that WP-Sweep can only display up to 500 items at a time. But if you have an older website or using one, it will display more revisions on the list.

If you want to take it on the developer side and you want the advanced approach at the same time, another method that we can recommend you is manually configuring the file by deleting the entries from the WordPress database. We only recommend this method if you’re knowledgeable enough about using this method. Be careful when using this method as you may end up deleting something important on your site and might bring your website down overall. But if you still prefer doing so, go to the phpMyAdmin and run an SQL query. 

Login to your phpMyAdmin account then select your WordPress database on the left side panel and click on the SQL tab

Enter this statement on the command box:

DELETE FROM wp_posts WHERE post_type=”revision”;

Take note that you’ll need to replace wp_ with the WordPress database prefix you use. After that, click “Go” to run the command and the revisions you had in your database will be deleted. 

If you’re not confident enough and you’re worried about losing your website, then we have here another method where you need to install a plugin. This is a simple way to delete your revisions safely. 

Download the free Simple Revisions Delete plugin. After installing this plugin, proceed to the page or post editor and look for the Delete link beside each revision.

You can now easily delete the revisions you don’t need manually. 

Another plugin that we can recommend is the PublishPress Revisions plugin. If this plugin is already enabled, it will add a “Manage” button at the top of the screen beside the “Preview/Restore” button. 

Click the “Manage” button and you can browse through all the revisions for a particular post.

This plugin has two options. You can manually delete the revisions by simply clicking the “Delete” button or use the Bulk Actions by checking the revisions you want to delete at once in a more convenient way.

How to Restore Old Revisions

Do you want to restore or replace your recent post with an older version? This way is very easy to accomplish. 

To restore WordPress to a previous date, simply click your revisions on the right-side panel of your editor and unchecked the “Compare any two revisions” box. Use the slider to browse through the revisions you want to restore. If you want to restore to a previous date, simply slide it through that date and click on the blue “Restore this Revision” button and you’ll be taken back to the post editing screen. 

You might be confused as there is no success message or a notification that will show you that the changes you made are successful. But don’t worry, you don’t need to click on the “Update” button. After clicking the Restore button, that’s it. That’s all you need to do. 

How to Limit the Number of Saved Revisions

Limiting the number of your saved revisions can help reduce the storage space it takes which results in a faster loading time of your website. A well-optimized website is a plus for the site visitors as they can browse around your website. Here are 2 different ways on how to achieve that. 

The first method is, go to the wp-config.php file on your WordPress root directory. After that, add the following line of code:

define('WP_POST_REVISIONS', 3);

Change the value 3 to how many revisions you want your database to store. After doing this, don’t forget to save the file and you’re done. 

This second method is for users who want to configure their database carefully, without losing anything on their website. If you prefer using plugins, then consider getting the free WP Revisions Control plugin. This plugin helps you do the job. After installing and activating it from your site, you can control the number of post revisions you want to save on your database. Simply go to the Settings then choose Writing on your admin dashboard. 

You can now set the number of revisions for each post type by entering the values on the tab. Remember that there’s no limit on how many revisions you want to set. If you have a custom post type, you can also configure it under the posts and pages. However, if you set the value to 0 then it will disable all revisions for that post type. If you finish entering the desired numbers on the tab, click on the Save Changes button and that’s it. Very simple and easy. You don’t need to worry about losing important files when configuring manually. 

Summary

Revisions is a completely free and easy-to-use tool for WordPress that you can use for your website whether it is a big website or a small one. Having revisions can alleviate the tasks of organizing posts or pages especially when you frequently update your website. It makes it easier to replace older versions with newer ones or vice versa. This plugin is also helpful because of its autosave feature that prevents you from losing your progress, especially when creating longer posts. Revisions really serve their purpose and continue to do so.

It offers a variety of options and settings to make our website optimized and prevent unnecessary amounts of files to your database and makes the experience even better. From enabling and disabling revisions manually or by using plugins, to preview your old revisions and use them again whenever you want, deleting old revisions which comes with a plugin or manually configuring it, restoring your old revisions if you’re not satisfied with the current one, and lastly, to limit your old revisions to take control of your website.

These variations of settings will help the site’s performance because it is well optimized and with that, it will serve and perform well for the site visitors. If you want to calibrate your website and save time updating and restoring posts or pages from your website, now’s the ideal time! Let us know how it goes!

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