How to Fix “Briefly Unavailable for Scheduled Maintenance” Error in WordPress

How to Fix “Briefly Unavailable for Scheduled Maintenance” Error in WordPress

You got a notification to update a plugin or core WordPress.

You clicked the update now link…

…and saw this error message on a white screen – “Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance. Check back in a minute.

Sounds familiar?

In this article, I will show what you need do in case your WordPress website gets stuck in maintenance mode.

Why does this WordPress Error occur and How to Fix it?

First of all, you should be assured that your website has neither been hacked nor your posts have been deleted.

The problem is actually very simple:

WordPress creates a .maintenance file in your root folder when you update core WordPress, themes, or plugins. This file gets deleted once the update is complete.

However, there are times when this file stays in your WordPress root directory and hence, you see the error message – “Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance”:

Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance

Some of the most common reasons for this error are:

  • A slow response time or low memory issues of your web server
  • The update script was interrupted due to internet connection problems or the web browser was closed before the update was complete
  • The theme or plugin is not compatible with WordPress
  • Updating too many plugins at a time

Technically it is not an error – rather a message displayed by WordPress to your visitors.

And in most cases, your website should be live within a few minutes.

However, if this is not happening in your case, then you have to delete the .maintenance file manually to get back your site to normal mode.

How to Delete the .maintenance file?

There are two ways by which you can access your WordPress folder to get your site out of maintenance mode: cPanel and FTP.

Let me show both the ways (use any one of them):

Delete .maintenance file using cPanel

Follow the steps below to recover your website from maintenance mode:

Step 1: First, you need to login to the cPanel of your hosting account. In case you don’t have the login details, check the welcome email of your web host.

Step 2: Find the File Manager icon (present under the Files category) and click on it:

cPanel file manager

Step 3: A pop up will open up – select public_html/www and check Show Hidden Files option. Once done, click on Go:

cPanel file manager popup

Step 4: A new page with all the files and folders will open up. Now find the .maintenance file on this page.

Once you find it, right click on that file and click Delete. A window will pop up and you have to confirm by clicking on Delete File(s).

Delete maintenance file using cPanel

Note: If your website domain is not the primary domain, then you have to open the addon domain folder to delete the .maintenance file.

If you followed the above steps properly, your website should be working normally now.

Delete .maintenance file using FTP

To access your WordPress root directory via FTP, you have to download and install an FTP client like FileZilla (100% free).

Also, you need FTP details like Hostname, username, password, and Port to proceed.

If you are using SiteGround hosting like me, then the FTP host will be your domain name (example – domainname.com) and the FTP Port will be 21. And the username and password will be same as your cPanel username and password.

Most of the times, your hosting provider will send you such details in the welcome email at the time of purchasing the account. You may even contact the support staff and ask them to provide the FTP details.

Now that you have installed FileZilla and have the required FTP details, follow these steps to disable the maintenance mode:

Step 1: Open FileZilla.

Step 2: Enter the host, username, password, and port:

FileZilla connect to web host

Step 3: Click on the Quickconnect button and wait for sometime. Once FileZilla successfully connects to your host, the files and folders of your WordPress site will appear on the right side box.

Step 4: Find the public_html or public folder and double-click on it.

FileZilla Hosting Folders

Step 5: Find the .maintenance file, right-click on it, and click Delete. When the confirmation window pops up, select Yes to confirm.

FTP delete maintenance file wordpress

Note: If you don’t see the .maintenance file in the WordPress root directory, then click on Server from the menu bar of FileZilla and select Force showing hidden files. This will show all the hidden files of that folder.

That’s it – your site should be live now.

No .maintenance file – What Next?

There can be some rare cases where you won’t find that file, but still, you will see the error message.

What should you do in that situation?

Well, you can either contact your hosting support staff and ask for their help, or you may fix it using the following method:

Step 1: Access your WordPress root directory via FTP and download the wp-activate.php file. You may follow the steps mentioned in the above section to understand how to access the root directory using FTP.

Step 2: Open the file in a code editor or any text editor and find the following code:

define (‘WP_INSTALLING’, true);

And replace that line with the following:

define (‘WP_INSTALLING’, false);

wp-activate php file

Step 3: Now save the wp-activate.php file and upload it to the same location via FTP.

I hope you have successfully restored your website using the above method.

How to avoid this problem in the future?

Though this is a common issue and can be fixed within 5 minutes using the above methods, you can still avoid it by following some of the tips below:

  • Do not update all your plugins together – do it one by one.
  • Do not close your web browser while the update is going on
  • Make sure the theme or plugin is compatible with the latest version of WordPress.

Also, I would highly recommend you to back up the files of your website on a frequent basis. You may use UpdraftPlus plugin to backup your site in cloud storage websites like Google Drive or Dropbox.

Endnote

Though the error “Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance. Check back in a minute.” may scare you a bit, I am sure you can restore your site using the above methods.

If you found this article helpful, please feel free to share it on Twitter or Facebook.

Anyways, here are some recommended articles that you can read now:

Also, get access to the Essential WordPress Plugins ebook and find out the plugins you should use on your WordPress website.

Sandipan Mukherjee
Sandipan Mukherjee is the owner of WPHour. He is also a Web Developer and a freelance writer for hire.

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