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How to Fix 503 Service Unavailable Error in WordPress

Are you seeing a 503 service unavailable error in WordPress? The problem with the 503 error is that it gives no clues about what’s causing it which makes it extremely frustrating for beginners. In this article, we will show you how to fix the 503 service unavailable error in WordPress.

Fixing 503 service unavailable error in WordPress

What Causes 503 Service Unavailable Error in WordPress?

All WordPress hosting companies offer fixed amount of resources for each hosting account. For websites on shared hosting, this limit cannot handle heavy usage of server resources.

The 503 service unavailable error occurs when your web server is unable to get a proper response from a PHP script. This PHP script could be a WordPress plugin, a theme, or a misbehaving custom code snippet.

If the error is caused by heavy usage, a server glitch, or a DDoS attack, then it could automatically disappear in a few minutes.

However, if it is caused by bad code on your website, then it will keep occurring unless you find and disable the code that’s causing it.

That being said, let’s take a look at how to easily fix 503 service unavailable error in WordPress.

Fixing 503 Service Unavailable Error in WordPress

As we mentioned above that this error is caused when your web server is unable to get a proper response from a PHP script running in the background.

To fix it, we will disable all unnecessary PHP scripts one by one until the error is resolved.

Let’s get started.

Deactivate All WordPress Plugins

All your WordPress plugins are PHP scripts, so first you need to deactivate all your WordPress plugins.

Since you cannot login to your WordPress dashboard due to the 503 error, you will need to connect to your website using a FTP client or File Manager in cPanel. Once connected, go to /wp-content/ folder and rename the plugins folder to plugins-old.

Rename plugins folder

Next, you need to create a new folder and name it plugins.

Now you need to visit your WordPress site to see if this resolved the error.

If it did, then this means a plugin installed on your website was causing the error. The above steps have deactivated all WordPress plugins.

To figure out which plugin was causing the issue, you need to switch back to your FTP client or file manager in cPanel. Next, you need to go to /wp-content/ folder and delete the empty plugins folder.

Delete empty plugins folder

After that you need to rename the plugins-old folder to plugins. This will make all your previously installed plugins available to WordPress. However, these plugins will remain deactivated.

You need to visit the WordPress admin area and then go to the plugins page. You can activate your plugins one by one and visit different pages on your website after activating each plugin. Keep doing that until you find the plugin causing the 503 error.

If this step resolved your issue, then you don’t need to follow rest of the instructions on this page. Otherwise, you can move on to the next step.

Switch to a Default WordPress Theme

If deactivating plugins didn’t resolve the issue, then the next step would be to switch to a default WordPress theme. This will deactivate your current WordPress theme.

First, you need to connect to your WordPress site using an FTP client or File Manager in cPanel. Once connected, go to /wp-content/themes/ folder.

Download your current WordPress theme

Locate your currently active WordPress theme and download it to your computer as backup.

After downloading your theme, you can go ahead and delete it from your website

Now, if you already have a default theme like Twenty Seventeen or Twenty Sixteen installed, then it will be automatically activated. If you don’t, then you can go ahead and install a default theme on your website.

Thoroughly check your website to make sure that 503 service unavailable error is resolved.

Troubleshooting

If both methods fail to resolve the error, then you can take the following steps:

  • Contact your WordPress hosting company because they may be able to pin-point what’s causing the issue.
  • As a last resort, you can reinstall WordPress with a fresh copy.

We hope this article helped you learn how to fix 503 service unavailable error in WordPress. You may also want to see our ultimate list of the most common WordPress errors and how to fix them.

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Reader Interactions

50 CommentsLeave a Reply

  1. Holy cow it actually worked. I don’t get it but I can see my sight and admin page. I’m not even tech savvy but I’m glad to see some good results. Thanks a ton!!

  2. I reinstalled a fresh WordPress but 503 error is till there. I don’t know what to do Please, help me.

  3. Thank you for the article. Over the past 3 months, the 503 error has been on my site 5 times. Now I think that I need to change hosting in order to avoid problems in the future.

  4. i followed your steps of renaming plug in folder as old plugins and then renaming it back to just plugins and none of my plugins show up in the dashboard and i tried reinstalling one and received an error that wordpress could not create directory please help

  5. Hi my issue is i don’t have access to the cpanel but can access the dashboard for my wordpress how do i solve this 503 error from here

    • If you don’t have access to your cPanel, reach out to your hosting provider and they should be able to assist.

      Admin

  6. I had this problem, well still having under specific circumstances. I tried everything: updated php, disabled some plugins, increased memory. And after all that I noticed that when I close admin panel for one of my websites, I have two websites on the same hosting, error stops. When I login into two admin panels simultaneously the problem appears. Any advice on how to solve this?

    • You would want to reach out to the support for your specific hosting to see if you are hitting a resource limit or something similar as the most likely cause.

      Admin

  7. I have error 503 on my news feed at my site. How can I mend it please. I had to delete some plugins. It cleared 503 error on my fiction page, but I still have it showing on news feed. I have contacted my hosts, who gave me more memory, but then it show error 503. On deleting plugins made no change.

    • If the recommendations in our article did not work, we would recommend reaching out to your hosting provider for them to ensure there are no errors on the hosting end.

      Admin

  8. Have to add my thanks to the 36 others to date for this support post.

    My site was getting slower and slower after a recent plug-in update both loading and when accessing pages / posts within my Admin area.

    Thinking it was my PC or Internet connection I logged out. Then things really got worrying for this beginner as I couldn’t log back in. Having installed a 2 factor authentication plug-in by the time the log in page loaded the verification access code had expired and I was locked out.

    Following the steps above, (just to disabling all Plug-ins stage, thankfully), cured both access, page load speeds and no, (currently after 3 hours testing), 503 service unavailable errors.

    BIG THANK YOU to all at WP Beginner.

    Like others below you are my first “go to” resource for all things WordPress.

  9. Thanks mate.. it worked.. what i did is just made a new folder named as Plugins and copied plugins one by one to it it worked for me..

  10. The actual reason I received this error, is not listed here. To everybody reading this: Before you go through all the steps above, check the following first!

    After I updated my plugins I started receiving this error. Apparently, some of the newer plugins don’t work as well with older versions of PHP! I logged-in to cpanel and changed the PHP version of my site to 7.0.

    In my case, 7.0 solved the error for me, but earlier as well as some later versions DID NOT.

  11. Wow! Great! I followed this article and find out that it was caused by one of my plugins.. But it one of the most important plugins I got.. If I install and activate it back. Would this error happen again?

    • You can reinstall it to see if the error continues and if so you would want to reach out to the plugin’s support for them to know about the error.

      Admin

  12. Thanks a million! You saved my life. I deactivated my plugins via cpanel as you mentioned and it worked. Jetpack plugins turned out to be the cause of that trouble since the last update.

  13. In my case the issue was caused by me using my registered emailaddress instead instead of user name at the login prompt. Dunno why, because it used to work in the past. But anyway, using the user name at the login prompt solved it for me.

  14. I read many solutions for fixing 503 error like your one and few other blogs and I tried to rename plugins with an underscore at the end but still not getting the issue resolved. In case if none of the solutions works then what is the last option to follow?

    • You would want to use the steps in the troubleshooting section of contacting your hosting provider for what they can see on their end as well as possibly reuploading the WordPress files.

      Admin

  15. I uninstall theme after that i install the latest version of my theme and website got alive again.

    Thanks.

  16. When I tried to contact Go Daddy, they were asking me to customize the content but on average my page memory is of 50KB, and all the plugins were removed from wordpress. Im using Avada Theme do I need to switch back to the basic theme?

    • You would want to try disabling the theme to see if it could be a conflict with the theme and your site in which case you could reach out to the theme’s support for their assistance.

      Admin

  17. In my case, there was an active spam filter that blocked various POST requests. Just had to turn off the filter to remove the 503 error.

  18. Hi Guys,
    Before you go for clean install go and disable SSL setup on your hosting/plugins.
    Solves many 503 admin-ajax process errors!
    Worked for my “add media” issues

  19. Deactivate Plugins did not work, delete theme did not work.
    Still working on this, but in the meantime. After (downloading and) deleting the theme, my site did not go to the default theme and is now blanc. How can I re-install the old theme so that even if I cannot login to the admin page, my site will still be visible?

  20. Hi,
    I had 503 error and just logged in the WP admin panel it solved the problem. This happened with to different sites at different time.

    Do you know something about it? I can’t find anything about this.

    Thanks

  21. This should be titled “How to locate the root cause of a 503 error in WordPress”, as it only provides hints to pinpoint what causes the error, but no rectification advise. My root cause was woocommerce; now what?

    • Contact your webhost! I just did that and they fixed the problem. I was having an issue with Woocommerce too and they just changed a version in cPanel. Good luck!

      • What did they change? PHP version? I’m having some similar issues and I’m thinking it’s coming from woocommerece too…

        • It was likely a php version change, if you reach out to your hosting provider they should be able to assist.

  22. Hello,
    I can upload and install a theme using ftp or c panel. But how can i activate the theme if i am facing error 503. I can not access the dashboard as you know.

  23. Issue seems to be that hosting providers after migration keep PHP version of 5.3 for compatibility.
    Change to higher and should work.

  24. I noticed this issue on a couple of sites. Even after replacing all the WP core files. I noticed that the official WP zip is missing critical files. I just downloaded the alternate .tar file just under the big blue download button and it worked.

  25. So basically your advice is to potentially destroy all the site, since you have no idea what dependencies there were and what will get destroyed after these operations… That’s a really great advice, I guess… :(

    • Hey Krzysiek,

      Renaming or deactivating WordPress plugins does not destroy a website or delete any data. Once a user finds the culprit, they can activate all their plugins and find a replacement for the one causing the issue.

      However, if the issue persists, then a fresh install is necessary. Again, reinstalling WordPress files doesn’t affect the data stored in the database or images stored in the uploads folder.

      Admin

  26. I have also seen cases where it could be a maintenance plugin as well while you are working k n a website. This also will also result in a 503 error

  27. Hello,
    Thank you for this Wonderful website. Whenever I get any problem on WordPress, I come to your site for finding the solution.
    Thank you for awesome service.

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