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How To Fix the WordPress Maintenance Mode Error

WordPress maintenance mode is a very common thing that automatically happens all the time. However, sometimes you get caught in between updates and you receive a maintenance error title “Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance. Check back in a minute.”

While this can be frustrating for you and website visitors, there are a couple of easy fixes to get yourself out of this situation. Oftentimes it feels as though you are locked out of your website.

But all that has happened is the system failed to complete the updates, and the maintenance mode error in WordPress continues to show.

Let’s take a look at a couple of ways to fix the WordPress maintenance mode error page when you get it.

Fix Maintenance Mode Error in WordPress

You do have some different options, all of which will work fine for fixing the maintenance mode error in WordPress. You can:

  • use an FTP Client
  • customize a maintenance mode page using a plugin
  • create your own WordPress maintenance mode page by adding some code to your site
  • avoid it altogether by updating one plugin at a time

Using FTP Clients

If you aren’t familiar with what an FTP client is, then you may want to do some reading about what they are and how they work. One of the more popular ones is FileZilla, but there are several good programs to choose from, all of which will work.

First and foremost, this is the maintenance mode error notice you will see, at which point you can use an FTP Client to get rid of it.

Briefly unavailable for maintenance

Open the FTP Client of your choice and login to your website via the client. You will see a list of files. The maintenance mode error is triggered by a file that WordPress temporarily creates called the .maintenance file.

If everything is updated quickly and correctly, then this file and the page will only show for a few seconds. At this point, WordPress automatically deletes the .maintenance file.

That being said, certain issues like a slow hosting setup or low memory issues can cause your website to get stuck on the WordPress maintenance mode error page.

If this is the case, once you have opened your chosen FTP Client, then look for the .maintenance file and simply delete it. You can also access the cPanel provided by your hosting company, go to File Manager and delete the file in their as well instead of using FTP.

Customize a WordPress Maintenance Mode Page

If you want a maintenance mode page to show while you are performing updates on your WordPress website, then you can accomplish this by using a plugin. For this example, I have chosen the Coming Soon Page & Maintenance Mode by SeedProd plugin.

The plugin has both a free and a pro version. You will need the pro version to access their pre-made templates, but you can build a maintenance page yourself using the free version.

Install and activate the plugin from the admin area of your WordPress backend.

Install and activate plugin

Once the plugin is running, click on SeedProd > Themes.

Click on seedprod then on themes

If you have the pro version, you can select any of these. Then, you can set a maintenance page to use whenever you are performing an update on your WordPress site.

SeedProd pro themes

If you have the free version, then click on SeedProd settings and build your own maintenance page to activate. You can use this instead whenever you are running updates.

SeedProd maintenance mode page settings

Build a Maintenance Page Using Code

If you prefer to manually build a WordPress maintenance mode page that will show every time you perform updates, then you can do that by adding some code into a .php file you create and uploading that file via FTP.

To do this, create a new file on your desktop or laptop called maintenance.php. Once the file has been created, add the following code to it:

<?php
$protocol = $_SERVER["SERVER_PROTOCOL"];
if ( 'HTTP/1.1' != $protocol && 'HTTP/1.0' != $protocol )
$protocol = 'HTTP/1.0';
header( "$protocol 503 Service Unavailable", true, 503 );
header( 'Content-Type: text/html; charset=utf-8' );
?>
<html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml">
<body>
<h1>We are updating the site, please check back in 30 minutes.</h1>
</body>
</html>
<?php die(); ?>

Now go ahead an upload this file you created to the wp-content directory of your WordPress website and you’ll be all set. You can use the .css page to make any style changes you want.

Avoiding WordPress Maintenance Mode

The WordPress maintenance mode error page only shows when updates take a long time or cannot be completed. A good way to step around this issue is to not perform bulk updates.

When you see your updates page, you may find a list of available plugin and theme upgrades.

Perform updates one at a time

Click and update these one-by-one to help avoid the issue of a stuck error page in WordPress. Furthermore, you can think about a better hosting situation. Perhaps you can find one that has low costs, provides unlimited space and has everything you need.

Fixing Future Errors and Mistakes

There are always steps to take to avoid this and other common WordPress errors. If you continually come across the WordPress maintenance mode page issue, you can try manual updates of WordPress and other plugins.

You can also fix other common WordPress errors you may come across fairly easily.

What fix do you prefer, code, plugin, or FTP? Have you run into this problem often?

Author: Jeremy Holcombe

Growing up in Hawaii, Jeremy started his freelance writing career doing resumes, business plans, article writing, and everything in between. He now specializes in online marketing and content writing and is part of the Content Marketing Team at GreenGeeks.

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