Fix: WordPress Briefly Unavailable for Scheduled Maintenance

Stuck in the “briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance” screen? Site gone offline? Here’s how to fix the WordPress stuck in maintenance mode error.

The message briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance check back in a minute appears while updating WordPress, a plugin, or a theme. It’s a normal behavior of WordPress. 

When you update your core WordPress CMS or a theme/plugin via the built-in automatic updater, the maintenance mode gets automatically activated on the site. 

Once the update is complete, the maintenance mode is turned off and your site goes live. In the meantime, briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance – WordPress shows this message when someone tries to visit the site.

For automatic updates like this usually takes a few seconds for 3-5 plugins. Even for updating the WordPress CMS itself, the maintenance downtime is less than a minute in most cases.

If your host is slow or there are lots of plugins to update, it may take more time based on that. But it should not be more than a few minutes. When you try to update WordPress or a theme/plugin from Dashboard > Updates, you’ll see a page like the following. It will show the progress of the updates. 

If you notice, you’ll see that there’s an indication that the maintenance mode has been enabled. After all the updates are finished, the maintenance mode is disabled. That is also showed on the Update screen.

enabling and disabling maintenance mode wordpress

But there are some scenarios when the handoff between enabling and disabling the maintenance mode doesn’t go well. Thus, the maintenance mode doesn’t get disabled. So the site gets stuck in maintenance.

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At this point, the visitors and even you, the admin will see the same blank screen saying briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance check back in a minute.

briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance

For an admin or a manager of the site, this is a horrible situation. You can realize that your visitors are not being able to browse your site. They are just seeing the maintenance mode error.

But don’t panic. You can fix the WordPress briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance stuck issue easily. It will take only a few minutes.

Let’s start with the reason that causes this issue in the first place. If you know the reasons behind this error, you will be able to avoid the error altogether.

WordPress stuck in maintenance mode, but why?

The WordPress briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance error may occur due to any of the following reasons (including but not limited to):

  • You’ve closed the WordPress update tab before it’s finished.
  • You tried to update so many plugins or themes at once.
  • Compatibility issue with an update.

So here’s the thing. After starting the update procedure, you have to keep the update tab open. If you close the tab or even get disconnected from the internet, your site might get stuck in maintenance mode. Plain and simple!

Learn More: WordPress Admin Slow? Fix Your Slow WordPress Backend Today!

Again, don’t try to update too many plugins or themes at once. This is often found that a bulk update has the risk of causing the briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance error. Start with updating at most 3-4 plugins at once.

And you just don’t know what’s going to happen even if you choose to update one plugin at once. A compatibility issue with the update can make your website stuck in maintenance mode. WordPress also demands some luck sometimes, you see (hahaha)?

How to take the WordPress site out of maintenance mode?

Finally, we’re there. Now you know what could cause your site to stick in the maintenance mode. Let’s see how to disable the wordpress maintenance mode.

When a WordPress site is taken to maintenance mode, it’s done with a .maintenance file. When you initiate an update, WordPress creates a .maintenance file in its root directory. Upon completing the update procedure(s), the .maintenance file gets deleted automatically and the site returns to live.

But if for some cases the site gets stuck in the update, it doesn’t delete the .maintenance file. Thus, WordPress stays in maintenance mode. When you realize that the update procedures have gone wrong and it is not going to get back to the normal mode automatically, you need to delete that .maintenance file manually. 

If you see that the update page is unresponsive or the page is closed and the site is in maintenance mode for an unusual amount of time, you should take action. That means you need to manually delete the .maintenance file.

How to find the .maintenance file in WordPress

Very easy. It will be located in the root directory of your WordPress instance. This directory can be named as www, public_html, or just html. It’s the same location where the wp-config.php file is located.

You can access your WordPress root folder using an FTP client like FileZilla. Or, if you have a web panel like cPanel or CyberPanel in your hosting, you can use the default file manager provided by that panel.

You can also contact your hosting support to learn how to access your WordPress root directory. 

How to delete the .maintenance file in WordPress

Once you get access to that directory, open it. Look for the .maintenance file. If the dotfiles are hidden, make them visible from the view settings of the file manager.

cpanel .maintenance file

Found it? Now delete the .maintenance file. Your site should come online right away.

Can’t find the .maintenance file in WordPress?

WordPress stuck in maintenance mode and no maintenance file? If you don’t see the .maintenance file in the WordPress root directory, that might be because your file manager or the FTP client is not showing the dotfiles. From the View option of your file explorer, turn on the visibility of the dotfiles. Then you’ll see the .maintenance file in the WordPress root directory.

Unpredictable WordPress? Deleted .maintenance file but still stuck in maintenance?

As soon as you delete the .maintenance file, the maintenance mode is actually disabled. If you still get the briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance message on the front-end, perhaps your site’s cache is showing the maintenance page. Clear the cache both from your caching plugin and CDN like Cloudflare (if any).

After following this tutorial so far, we hope your WordPress site will no longer be in maintenance mode. So, to sum up, simply you need to find and delete the .maintenance file. Then, if the site is still stuck in the briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance page, clear the cache in every way possible. Your site should come online.

Wrapping up

In this article, we’ve explained the reasons why a WordPress site might get stuck in maintenance mode. Also, we’ve shown how to disable maintenance mode in WordPress. We’re confident that if you follow this tutorial, you’ll be able to turn off the WordPress maintenance mode and prevent it from happening in the future. Happy publishing!

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