They say that once something is on the internet, it’s there forever.
Thankfully, for those of us who accidentally delete posts and pages we desperately need, there is some truth in that. Not so fortunate for those duck-faced selfies of 2015.
Accidental deletions happen and I know this deeply and personally – as I was working on this post, I began playing around with my databases and deleted the entirety of my site Motherhood+Mayhem.
By the grace of a higher power, a wonderful customer service representative at HostGator was able to recover the site for me. I’ll admit I had to put my head down for a moment.
That situation worked out wonderfully for me and hopefully, with the following restoration methods, you will find a happy ending as well when it comes to recouping deleted posts and pages.
There are two circumstances that determine how to go about doing so:
First, if the post/page has only been deleted within the last 30 days, you can just pop it back onto your site and no harm done.
Second, if it’s been longer than 30 days, there are some ways you can dig around to find it.
The 30 Day Method
Thankfully, WordPress trash holds deleted posts and pages for up to 30 days. Yay!
Therefore, you have 30 days to save them or they are gone.
Doing so is fairly straightforward:
1. Click on “Pages” or “Posts”. These links are located in the left-hand menu when you are signed into your WordPress. If that little sub-menu pops up and you panic, just click on “All Posts” or “All Pages”. Same difference.
2. Click on the link for “Trash” above the list of not-stupidly-deleted posts/pages (this link will only display if there’s something in there).
3. Click “Restore”.
4. Never delete something by accident again!
Just kidding! Mistakes happen! Now you know if you can catch it within 30 days then you can easily recover it. Otherwise, it becomes permanently deleted and the process becomes a bit more challenging…
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Permanently Deleted Posts and Pages
If you’re beyond the 30 days but you really, really, really, really need that post or page you may not be entirely out of luck.
There are ways to attempt a recovery of these posts/pages but doing so is a bit more involved than clicking on a couple of links.
I’m going to walk you through 3 different ways you can attempt a recovery but please keep in mind these methods can be a bit confusing.
If I don’t explain something clearly please don’t hesitate to yell at me send me a message or leave a comment below!
(Or sign up for updates so I can bombard you with more instructions I can’t clearly explain interesting articles that will help you manage and design your blog!)
1. Google’s Cache
Good ol’ Google to the rescue…hopefully.
Google Cache is basically a snapshot or saved copy of a web page stored on a server somewhere. It is saved when Google knocks on your site’s door to index it for its search engine.
There’s really no timetable set in stone for how quickly a page or post is indexed by Google. Experts say it can take several days or even months for it to happen.
If your deleted post or page has been indexed and cached (or saved) by Google, you have an opportunity to recover it.
Before you even get started, you want to make sure your WordPress site even allows Google to index it. If not, then there’s no point in trying this method of recovery.
Go to “Settings” then “Reading” from the left-hand menu of your WordPress dashboard.
Check to see if the little box beside “Discourage search engines from indexing this site” is checked. If it is, then please proceed to method 2.
Head to Google and search: “Blog URL” + “Page/Post Title”. Move your cursor over the little downward pointing arrow atop the matching search result and click the “Cached” link.
Ta-Da! Here’s your entire page or post that you were looking for! Just copy and paste the content and recreate the post or page.
2. Way Back Machine
The Way Back Machine is a service offered by Archive.org that allows you to search for old posts and pages that have recently been deleted.
Like Google Cache, however, this does not work for new posts/pages. They had to have been published long enough for them to be archived by Archive.org.
The benefit of using this tool over Google is that you only need to enter your site URL and the Way Back Machine will provide you a history of posts and pages added to your site.
Clicking on “Browse History” will bring you to a results page organized by date.
You’ll have to click on the dates with the blue dots and open the archive’s “screenshot” of your site until you find the post/page you are looking for. It’s not a perfect system but, if you really need that post/page, it’s worth the effort.
The post/page will display as it does for Google Caching, so you need to simply copy and paste the information into a new post/page.
Oh boy. If you’ve made it this far to recover your post/page then you’re in for a real back-end treat.
phpMyAdmin is a program provided by your web host that organizes, backups and restores your site’s database. The database contains, like, everything involved with your site.
I only explain this to you because I want you to respect the phpMyAdmin. It is a powerful tool and, if mistreated, can cause some serious damage to your site.
Fear not, though. As long as you follow these instructions you’ll be recovering your lost post/page without fucking up your site in no time.
Here we go!
To do this, you’re going to have to login to your web host provider’s site. I use HostGator, so I can really only show you what it looks like through them.
However, most web hosting sites are set up the same. Look for a link to “phpMyAdmin”. In HostGator, this is located in the cPanel.
If you’re like me and you have multiple domains and subdomains, your list is not going to make a whole lot of sense. Each database is given a name based on your username and either “wrdp#” or a bunch of gobbledegook.
When you’re not sure which database is linked to the site you are trying to recover a post/page from, just click on the arrow beside it then on “wp_posts”. Click edit next to a post and scroll down.
Oftentimes, one of the information boxes will reveal the URL of the site.
Once you know you are in the right site, “wp_posts” is exactly where we want to be. Look under the “post_title” column to find the post you are looking for. (This area includes pages as well.)
When you click “edit”, you should be able to see the content in the “post_content” box. Give it the ol’ Copy&Paste. Now get out of phpMyAdmin while you still can!
How Did Your Story End?
Were you able to restore that deleted post/page that sent you into a panic?
There’s no guarantee in finding those posts after 30 days but I really hope you were able to at least copy and paste the information back on to your site.
Let me know how you made out in the comments below! (Drop a link to the rescued post or page, too!)