How to Use and Optimize WordPress Revisions

WordPress revision is a fantastic feature to help you recover your pages and posts from accidental errors and deletions. Using WordPress revision has many benefits, but it does have some disadvantages.

Imagine that your WordPress revision is not configured correctly. In that case, you will feel headaches, especially when you start growing your WordPress-based website.

So this WordPress revision is a dual-edged sword that comes with its advantages and disadvantages.

This blog post will tell you what WordPress revision is and why limiting the WordPress revision feature is wise. And I will also show you how to disable this feature.

So let’s get started and make your website faster by configuring WordPress revision in a better way.

So What Is WordPress Revision?

If you make any changes to your WordPress website, by default, your WordPress website will save those edits as revisions. WordPress will automatically save your work every 60 seconds without hitting the save button when writing a blog post.

WordPress will also save individual revisions whenever you click on the Save Draft button, Publish button, or Update button. So, in short, WordPress will record all your activities and frequently store them as individual versions, which is called WordPress revision.

This WordPress revision feature is beneficial for any WordPress website owner, no matter the size of your website. Suppose you accidentally encounter an issue with one of your blog posts or pages. In that case, the revision feature will come in handy to restore the particular version from the backup.

For example, you accidentally closed the browser tab or lost power due to a power outage. Situations like this will happen to everyone. So WordPress will have a backup of your blog post, and then later, you can restore your preferred version from the revisions collection.

You can also use this feature to revert your old versions of your content.

Let me give you a quick example. You have published a blog post, and Google started showing that on the first page of the Search Engine Result Page (SERP).

And after a couple of months, you have decided to update the blog post by adding more content values. You expect that will help you raise your position in the SERP.

So now you have republished the article, and unfortunately, that did not work well. You started seeing that your search engine ranking is going down instead of going up.

So in this situation, you can revert the blog post to the previous version from the revisions and then regain your search engine visibility and the lost traffic.

How cool is that, right?

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Do you have a team of authors and editors to publish blog posts on your WordPress website? Then this revision feature will give you even more power to manage your blog posts.

WordPress’ revision feature not only stores the edits you or your authors made. It will also contain other details, such as the author’s username that contributed to that particular revision and when they made that change.

I am sure that this will increase the transparency between your WordPress authors. It will make the collaboration between your editors and authors smoother. If someone made a mistake, you could revert the change with just a click.

So this is like having a micro backup with a powerful restoration feature.

Typically, when restoring a WordPress website from a backup, you need to restore the whole website. In the case of WordPress revisions, you can cherry-pick the paragraph of the particular blog post and revert to that version.

How powerful is that, right?

What’s Wrong With WordPress Revisions?

I showed you how powerful and beneficial the WordPress revision feature is. Still, just like any other feature, this also has its problems. If you don’t manage or configure WordPress revisions effectively, you will have severe pain.

So basically, the more pages and posts you create on your WordPress website, the more revisions WordPress will generate.

Imagine you have a large WordPress website, making changes frequently. So whenever you apply new changes, WordPress will automatically save revisions. These revisions will quickly lead to unnecessary bloating of the database.

Your database will overgrow whenever a revision is made. And the larger your WordPress database is, the more disk space storage your database will occupy.

And unfortunately, if you have a huge database to manage your WordPress website, that will make the database query slower. So, your WordPress website will be slower. If your WordPress website is slower, that will directly affect the user experience and your Search Engine Optimization.

If you do not configure it wisely, I hope you see the big picture of this revision feature’s problems. So we need to create and manage WordPress revisions to take advantage of it – without affecting its disadvantages.

And you don’t need to wonder how you can achieve it. I will show you how to disable WordPress revisions or limit them in the coming section. And I will also show you how you can clear revisions quickly to have a much faster WordPress website and database. We can have so many options for your disposals.

WordPress Revisions: Where to Find Them

Before diving into the details of WordPress revision settings and optimization, it is essential to understand how to find revisions.

Finding WordPress revisions is easy. I assume that you have opened a page or post that you are working on. So on the post editor screen, you need to go to the right-hand menu and then click on the Document tab.

By default, WordPress enables revisions. So unless you’ve disabled it, you can see the number of revisions below the Status & visibility section.

WordPress Revisions: Where to Find Them

You need to click on it, and then you will see the revisions page where you can see the stored revisions listed for your review. And on this page, you can compare any of the two revisions head-to-head.

On this revisions page, you will have two columns. The left column will display the previous version of the page or post you are working on, and the right column will show you the current version of the document.

Here you can use the revisions slider to browse through various revision points to restore them. As you can see in this screenshot, there is a + sign with green and a with red. This green + icon indicates that this is Added, and the red – symbol indicates that this portion is Removed.

WordPress Revisions Screen

So if somehow you don’t want to use any previous versions, you need to keep using the current version. You can quickly return to the editor by clicking on the article title or the Go to editor link you see at the top of the page.

Reverting to a Previous Revision in WordPress

Sometimes you need to undo the changes you made to your website. And when you require this, the WordPress revision feature makes it so quick and easy. You can’t stop thanking WordPress for having such a fantastic feature.

By default, WordPress will display the revisions of your post and pages sequentially. When you tick on the Compare any two revisions checkbox, you will be able to view and compare changes non-sequentially.

WordPress Revisions Screen

You can then select your preferred versions side-by-side. That means instead of comparing revision #9 and #10, you can compare between revision #5 and #10. Once you’ve finished reviewing and comparing your preferred revisions, you can restore your older version by clicking on the Restore This Revision button.

Revisions in WordPress: How to Enable Them

A typical WordPress website installation will have the revision feature enabled by default. In some cases, however, your WordPress hosting service provider or installation method will not make it by default.

You or a team member might have disabled the revision feature at some point.

Consider the case where your WordPress install isn’t using revisions. In that case, you can easily enable that by manually editing the wp-config.php file. You can access this file using SFTP. If your website is hosted with Rovity, you can use the built-in File Manager from your DirectAdmin control panel.

Within your WordPress installation root directory, you will find this file. So once you navigate to the root directory and locate this file, double click on it. You can then start modifying the configuration file.

I will show you how to edit the file in your DirectAdmin File Manager in this example. If you are using any other method to access the file, the process remaining is similar.

So once you’ve opened the configuration file, add the below code to the file. And click on the Save button.

define('WP_POST_REVISIONS', true);

You need to make sure that you add this code above the line that says: /* That’s all, stop editing! Happy publishing. */

Enable Revisions WordPress

When you log back into WordPress, you should see the revisions feature enabled. Open the editor for any page or post to ensure that it’s up and running. And check for the Revisions option under the Document tab.

Revisions in WordPress: How to Disable Them

Your use case can be anything, but I would not recommend you disable your WordPress website’s revision feature. It would be best to keep in mind that you can limit the number of revisions to store in your database instead of disabling the revision altogether.

Or you can consider deleting revisions from time to time. You can delete these revisions automatically at a scheduled interval, or you can manually remove them whenever you need. We will discuss these options in the next section.

However, it’s up to you, and if you find there is no purpose to store revisions or limit them, you can turn it off completely. After all, this is your website, and you know its requirements better than anyone else.

You can disable revisions using the method we discussed to enable the revision section. That means by editing the wp-config.php file. But instead of setting the value to true, you need to make it false.

define('WP_POST_REVISIONS', false);

Suppose you are not comfortable editing the WP Config file. In that case, there is a lightweight WordPress plugin you can use to disable revision. You need to install and activate the Disable Post Revision plugin. Then you can access it from the Settings > Writing page.

Disable Post Revision Plugin Settings

You need to select the post types you want to disable revisions on this page and click the Save Changes button. That’s it; you are now completely turned off the WordPress revision feature.

WordPress Revisions Database Optimization

As I mentioned earlier, the longer you run your website, the more revisions you will likely have saved in your WordPress database. Think about this: your WordPress website is a couple of years old, and you often update and edit your content. Then you are naturally going to see so many revisions that have accumulated.

Imagine you have 900 pages and posts on your site, and you are frequently updating those pages and posters. Let us assume that each post and page has 100 revisions individually.

Now let us calculate. This will make at least 90,000 entries in your database, and this is not only a problem for a blog-alike WordPress website. It is pretty common for WooCommerce stores as well.

Such accumulation can happen very quickly, built up behind the scene without you noticing it. Luckily apart from disabling these revisions completely, we have a couple of methods to optimize your WordPress revisions, such as deleting the WordPress revisions entirely or limiting them.

In the following section, I will walk you through how to perform each task using a plugin and do things manually.

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How to Delete Revisions in WordPress

You can delete revisions from your WordPress website by using a plugin, or you can do it manually. I recommend you use a WordPress plugin because it is relatively quick.

Otherwise, you can delete them directly from the database. But this is not a good idea for non-experienced site owners.

It’s simple to remove revisions from WordPress using a plugin. You have plenty to choose from. There are dedicated and stand-alone plugins to help you to clean revisions and other junk from your database. WP-Sweep is an intelligent plugin I would recommend.

Suppose you already use performance optimization and caching plugins like WP Rocket or W3 Total Cache. In that case, you can use the built-in feature of your preferred plugin.

For example, if you are using WP Rocket, go to the Database tab, and under the Post Cleanup, tick the Revisions. And scroll down and then click on the Save Changes and Optimize button.

WP Rocket Clean Revisions

That’s it, and this will help you clear the stored revisions from your database.

I very much recommend you use a performance optimization plugin. You can either use a free version or a paid version. But using an optimization plugin will help you load your WordPress website much faster and optimize it in many ways. There are ways to optimize your Core Web Vitals, a critical aspect of your website.

If you are not using such plugins, you can install and activate the WP-Sweep plugin.

WP-Sweep is a free plugin to help you to clean old revisions in your database. It is user-friendly, and you can clear so much junk data like spammed comments and duplicate post meta.

Once you’ve activated this plugin, you need to go to Tools > Sweep.

On this page, you can see a list of stored revisions and the total amount of revisions that exist. You can know more about it by clicking on the Details button, and then you can access a list of posts that will be affected.

Wp Sweep Post Sweep Page

I recommend you review the information and make sure that nothing important will be deleted. Once you are ready, click on the Sweep button. You can repeat this process for every item listed on this page.

As you sweep through your revisions, you can see a dialogue box that will display the number of revisions the plugin has already processed.

Revisions in WordPress: How to Limit Them

By limiting the number of revisions, you can minimize how often you will have to clean your WordPress database. We can restrict revisions manually or with a plugin.

WordPress Revision Limits: The Plugin Approach

WP Revisions Control is a free WordPress plugin to help you to limit revisions. Using this plugin, you can limit the number of revisions on your WordPress website or disable it altogether. You have both options with this plugin.

Once you have installed and activated this plugin, go to Settings > Writing in your WordPress admin dashboard.

WP Revisions Control Settings

Here you can set the number of revisions for each post type. If you have activated any custom post types, you can also see them listed on this page.

Technically there is no limit on how many revisions you can set. If you set it to 0, it will disable the revisions feature for that post type.

Once you have configured this, please click on the Save Changes button at the bottom of the page. And then, you are ready to go with the new revision configuration for your website.

WordPress Revision Limits: The Manual Approach

If you prefer the manual method to limit the number of revisions for your WordPress website, you will have to edit your wp-config.php file. As I mentioned earlier, depending on the WordPress host you are with; you can do this via the control panel or SFTP client.

Suppose your WordPress website is hosted on Rovity’s cloud servers. In that case, you can directly edit this file from your DirectAdmin control panel. In your DirectAdmin control panel, you will have File Manager with a beautiful file editing interface.

So once you’ve opened your configuration file, you need to add the following line of code.

define('WP_POST_REVISIONS', 3);

I gave 3 as an example value in the code mentioned above. But you are free to adjust this value that will reflect how many revisions you want to store in your database per page and post.

Please save the configuration file once you have finished modifying it. If you have used SFTP, you will need to re-upload the file to the server.

The changes will be automatically updated if you use File Manager in the DirectAdmin control panel.

Summary

WordPress revisions are a handy feature to help you to prevent losing your important work. The revisions make restoring the older versions of the posts and pages you worked on faster.

But imagine you have a large well established WordPress website. The revisions will quickly accumulate and add unnecessary bloat to your WordPress database. This excessive load on your database will then end up hurting your site’s overall performance.

There are a few different ways you can manage how your website will handle revisions, so these revisions will not negatively impact your website.

1 – Disable revisions by editing your site’s wp-config.php file.
2 – Deleting revisions with a plugin such as WP-Sweep.
3 – Edit your WordPress wp-config.php file, or use a free plugin like WP Revisions Control to limit revisions.

Many factors will impact the performance of your WordPress website. Having an optimized database is crucial to deciding whether your website will load faster or slower. So I encourage you to start optimizing your database today.

Do you have any questions or ideas about optimizing WordPress revisions? Please let us know in the comment section below so that our community can learn from that.

Suppose your WordPress website is hosted with Rovity. In that case, you can contact us to adjust the WordPress revisions feature on your website. You may not need to do that yourself. We will do that for you.

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