If your sites update process ever fails, you find your site being stuck in maintenance mode. Your site will not be available to visitors and all they will see is an alert “Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance“. Do not panic, take a deep breath and read on.
In this article, I explain the problem and give you an easy fix for it.
The case of being stuck in maintenance mode
When you start an update process, be it plugins or a theme or WordPress core itself, WordPress will put itself into a maintenance mode.
This should not take long and when the update process is ready, the maintenance mode is cancelled and the site again available for visitors. But for some reason, the maintenance mode may not be cancelled. The reason may be a network error, slow connection or just bit getting “sideways”. Whatever the reason is, Your site is stuck in maintenance mode. The worst thing is, that you can’t even get into the dashboard.
You are completely out of your site and it seems that there is nothing you can do – but there is.
What is the maintenance mode?
While WordPress is updating the system, it may not be able to serve the content to clients due to updating files. To tell browsers that the site is not available WordPress creates a hidden file
.maintenance in the root of the WordPress installation folder. Maintenance mode is just a way to tell visitors that update process is not finished and tell them to check again in a minute. That’s all.
Fix for Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance error
The fix is easy, just delete the above mentioned
.maintenance file. To do this, you need your credentials to log in to your web server. Go to the file system and look for
.maintenance -file. When found, delete it and your fine. Your site is live again!
If there is no .maintenance -file?
It may happen that your site has no such file. The solution is to look for
wp-activate.php -file. This is also in the root folder of your WordPress installation. Open the file to edit it. In the very beginning of the file, there is a line
define ( 'WP_INSTALLING', true );
This tell’s WordPress that the installation process (update) is not ready and WordPress is effectively in maintenance mode! The solution – change the value from
false and save the file. You’ll be good and your site live again.
The moral of the story
Always, I mean always, have your FTP credentials ready and make sure you can log into the web server. Also, always and I repeat, always, have a backup of your site before updating. I have not had problems updating my sites but today I had. So, it may happen and it pays to be ready.