Three Methods for Undoing Changes in WordPress

Undoing changes in WordPress are primarily and commonly categorized into three methods. They are:

  1. Leveraging the revisions feature in WordPress pages and posts.
  2. Using the undo option directly within a page or a post.
  3. Utilizing backups.

Undoing Changes in WordPress by Taking Advantage of the Revisions Feature

Characteristically, WordPress will autosave your pages and posts while you’re working on them (editing, deleting, writing, etc.). Every new autosave will override the previous one. The frequency of WP autosaves is somewhere between 10-60 seconds — depending on whether you’re running the Gutenberg or the classic editor.

Additionally, on any occurrence of change, every time you manually save a draft, publish, preview, or update a page or post, WordPress will create what’s called a revision. You can think of it as snapshots in time or previous versions of something. So say, you saved a draft 3 times after making the adjustments you wanted to, then WP will generate 3 revisions.

The entire idea of this revisions feature is that you can restore to an earlier copy of a page or post if desired. You can pick from any revision number.

How the Revisions Tool Works in WordPress

Revisions can be accessed from the right sidebar of that particular page or post. For visual reference, see the screenshot below that clearly show where revisions are available inside a WordPress post, in Gutenberg.

how revisions can be accessed for a WP page or post
How revisions can be accessed for a WP post — from its right vertical sidebar. It’s precisely the same for a WP page.

How To Read and Decipher What’s Going On With Revisions

As soon as you click on revisions, a new window/section will open where you have a lot going on. To the unfamiliar, it may feel a bit overwhelming. Principally, there will be a slider, two columns, a checkbox, etc. See the image that follows for context.

How the main revisions window in WP looks like
The main Revisions window/section in WP.

Revisions Slider

As shown in the image above, the draggable slider can be used to navigate to different saved revisions in time.

The two columns

Depending on what position of the slider you are in, the right column will show you the details of that revision, and the left column will display the details of the revisions just before.

The compare any two revisions checkbox

This acts as a wildcard wherein you can compare any two revisions. Without this checked, WordPress will always default to exhibiting the currently selected revision on the right and the one just before on the left — as already explained in the two columns side of things.

The red and green colors

Anything you see in red indicates that something was removed, while anything in green dictates something was added.

the red and green colors inside WordPress Revisions
The red and green colors inside WordPress Revisions.

Restoring a Revision

When you are sure of which revision you want, click on the “Restore This Revision Button,” which can be seen right underneath the slide section — sitting in between the slider and the two columns. Note that this option will remain disabled if you’re on the most recent revision.

The Restore This Revision button in WordPress
The “Restore This Revision” button in WordPress.

Undoing Changes in WordPress by Using the Undo Option

Comparable to how CTRL + Z keyword combo works in Windows Operating Systems, WordPress also has a similar option available on the top-left horizontal bar to undo changes — while a page or post is being worked on.

Moreover, it also has a redo option which would typically remain non-interactive until undo is used at least once. Finally, and as customarily recognized, the undo button can be identified via the backward arrow, while the redo with the forward-facing one.

Take a look at the image below to see where these two options lie.

the undo and redo options inside the WP editor
The undo and redo options inside the WP editor.

Undoing Changes in WordPress With Backups

Reverting to a past clone of a website is possible and scalable with backups.

The first two way/methods discussed here tackle undoing changes on an individual page or post basis, while backups are capable of restoring an entire site to a former point in time, at scale.

How you’ve done your backups, whether you’re on some free or paid plan, who you are using as a backup provider, etc., will determine the flexibility and robustness of your backup.

Irrespective of those factors though, backups are essential to helping you recover from critical site errors, plugin errors, breakage of the site, update failures, etc. So not only would it allow you to get up and running, it will also restore all your pages and posts, along with all the settings (depending).

To get started, one of the manageable first steps you can take is to search for backup plugins or talk to your hosting or CDN providers.

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Undoing changes in WordPress usually boils down to addressing them either on an individual page or post basis via revisions or undo options or at mass with backups.

Regardless of one’s background, expertise, and skill level, undoing and backing things up should always be part of the game plan, as you never know when and how the need will arise.

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