Wordpress stores a backup or previous copy of your posts called a revision. Each time you click Save Update or Draft, a new revision is stored in the database. They allow you to check a recent change you’ve made and revert to an earlier version should you need to do so.
Some people like this feature, others do not have the need to store so many of them. They can cause clutter and waste database resources as they pile up.
You might not even be aware that your WordPress site is storing different revisions of your posts and pages until you enable or activate it in screen options. By default the option to see them is hidden.
To make them visible you would simply edit one of your blog posts, and then find the “Screen Options” link/button near the top right of the page.
Tick or check the “Revisions” box to make them visible.
Keep in mind you will not see or have the ability to do so until you have more than one update or change.
After ticking/checking the box you will see a “Revisions” section under your blog post such as:
Depending on how many changes or updates you have made to a given post you may see two, three, or you may see 10.
If you happen to have upwards of ten per post they can consume a lot of additional database space. If you have published 100 blog posts and each of them had 10 different revisions, then that would mean 1000 total entries stored in your database. Now imagine if you have 1000 or more blog posts x 10 of them.
So what can you do?
1. You can reduce the number of revisions that WordPress saves.
Maybe you would rather save only 3 to 5.
2. You can turn them off / disable them completely.
Maybe you would rather not save any.
For those of you that like them you could actually increase the number that is saved.
How do you change the number of revisions WordPress saves?
You can do this with either a plugin or by manually editing wp-config.php, which is located in your hosting account at: yoursite.com/wp-config.php
The easier route would be a plugin such as:
Download, install, and activate the Revision Control plugin just like you would any other plugin.
Then, in your WordPress dashboard you can adjust the settings in:
Select the desired number to save for Posts and Pages and be sure to click the “Save Changes” button.
As you can see you will have several different options available from: “Do not store Revisions” (disabled), all the way up to an unlimited amount.
Now if you go back and edit a blog post you can delete them.
How to manually change the number of WordPress Revisions saved:
To manually change the number of revisions WordPress stores or to disable them completely first download and back up the file (just in case):
Then, open wp-config.php and add the following:
To turn off/disable revisions add:
To save only 3 revisions add:
If you turn off or disable revisions it doesn’t delete the ones already stored in the database. However, once they are disabled new ones will not be saved and they will no longer continue piling up in future posts.
You can remove the old ones with the Revision Control Plugin mentioned earlier.
If you are brave and know what you are doing you could also run a database query that will remove the old revision entries from the database. However, this wouldn’t be my first choice if you are fairly new to WordPress, web hosting, or database maintenance.