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I have a form with 3 textareas and some other fields. I would like to put in an autosave functionality and found the Autosave module. But that seems to be specifically for editing nodes and is also too advanced for what I need. I just need to save the contents every 3 seconds or so, no revision support or anything fancy like that.

I'm thinking about a silent form submit that the user doesn't notice or a specific page that receives the contents of the form posted with JavaScript.

But something like this must have been done before, so is there an example or some pointers on how to implement this? I'm using Drupal 7.

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Try the Save Form State module. Here is a quote about it (from the module's project page):

... provides a way to autosave data entered in any Drupal form without actually submitting the form, which helps if the user is writing an article or a comment and the browser crashed or the power went down, or even if the window was closed accidently.

It works using the jQuery Sisyphus plugin, which is a lightweight jQuery plugin that uses Local Storage to save form fields every specific time span that is configurable from the module settings page.

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