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How to Fix Briefly Unavailable for Scheduled Maintenance Error in WordPress

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Are you seeing the ‘Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance’ error in WordPress?

This error usually appears while updating WordPress core, plugins, or themes. Basically, your WordPress site fails to finish the update and stays stuck in maintenance mode.

In this article, we will show you how to easily fix the ‘Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance’ error in WordPress. We will also show you why this error occurs and how you can avoid it in the future.

Fix Briefly Unavailable for Scheduled Maintenance Error in WordPress

What Is WordPress Maintenance Mode and Why Does it Happen?

The WordPress maintenance mode page is technically not an error. It is a notification page.

During the update process, WordPress downloads necessary update files to your server, extracts them, and then installs the update.

WordPress also puts your site into maintenance mode and displays the ‘Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance. Check back in a minute’ notice during the process.

Unavailable for scheduled maintenance error in WordPress

To trigger the maintenance mode notification, WordPress creates a temporary .maintenance file in your website’s root folder.

If everything works normally, then this notice will probably be displayed for only a few seconds. After the successful update, WordPress will automatically delete the maintenance file and disable maintenance mode.

However, sometimes, due to a slow WordPress hosting server response or low memory issue, the update script will time out and interrupt the process. When this happens, WordPress does not get a chance to take your site out of maintenance mode.

In other words, your WordPress website will continue showing the maintenance mode notice, and you will need to manually fix it.

If this error is happening to you, don’t worry. Simply follow this guide so that you can resolve it in no time. You can use these quick links to skip to different parts of our tutorial:

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If you’d prefer written instructions, then just keep reading.

Option 1: Delete the .maintenance File

To get your website out of maintenance mode, all you really need to do is delete the .maintenance file from your site’s root folder using an FTP client like FileZilla or your hosting’s file manager app.

Simply connect to your website’s files, find the .maintenance file, right-click on it, and select ‘Delete’.

Delete maintenance file

If you can’t find the .maintenance file in your WordPress root directory, then make sure your FTP client is set to show hidden files.

In FileZilla, you can force the client to show hidden files by clicking on Server » Force showing hidden files from the menu bar.

Show hidden files in FTP

Once the .maintenance file has been removed, your site will come out of maintenance mode, and the error should be fixed.

Option 2: Update the wp-activate.php File

If WordPress is still stuck in maintenance mode even after the fix above, then you need to update the wp-activate.php file located in your main WordPress folder. This is the same place where you found and deleted the .maintenance file.

You will need to either open the file using your hosting company’s file manager app or download it on your computer using FTP.

Next, you need to find the code:

 define ('WP_INSTALLING', true)

Then, change the ‘true’ to ‘false’.

So your code will look like this:

define ('WP_INSTALLING', false)

After that, you need to save the changes and upload the file to your hosting server using FTP. If you are using the hosting company’s file manager, then simply saving the file should get you out of maintenance mode.

Option 3: Temporarily Deactivate All WordPress Plugins

An unfinished or interrupted update may cause issues when your site comes out of maintenance mode.

If the error occurred when you were updating a WordPress plugin, then you will need to temporarily deactivate all WordPress plugins using FTP. This step will ensure that the corrupt plugin is disabled, and your website will come back online.

Next, you will need to log in to your WordPress dashboard and activate one plugin at a time to see which plugin caused the issue. After that, you need to manually install the plugin update so that it’s working properly.

On the other hand, if this error occurred when you were updating WordPress core software, then you will need to follow our guide to safely update WordPress.

How to Prevent the WordPress Maintenance Mode Error in the Future

We already know that the ‘Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance’ error can sometimes be caused by a sluggish server response or limited memory on your web hosting plan.

To avoid this frustration, let’s look at some preventative measures. One is to update plugins and themes one at a time.

We all want to be efficient, but sometimes speed can backfire. When you click the ‘Update’ button for all your plugins at once, WordPress updates them in a staggered order. Even a tiny delay in the connection can lead to conflicts and get your site stuck in maintenance mode.

Instead, take a more patient approach. Update your plugins and themes one by one. This way, if an issue arises, it’s easier to identify the culprit and fix the problem quickly.

WordPress Plugin Update One at a Time

If updating one at a time still leads to maintenance mode errors, it might be a sign that your current hosting plan doesn’t have the resources your website needs.

Upgrading to a higher plan or moving to a reliable provider like Bluehost can significantly reduce the chance of encountering this error in the future.

We also recommend exploring managed WordPress hosting companies. These providers specialize in optimizing WordPress websites for speed and reliability, making them a great option for a smoother experience.

How to Customize the Maintenance Mode Notification

Maybe your WordPress site actually needs to be in maintenance mode for updates or other reasons, but you’d prefer to ditch the plain and boring default maintenance page.

If that’s the case, then you can use a plugin like SeedProd. It is the best WordPress page builder plugin that comes with a maintenance mode feature.

You can customize your maintenance mode page using the drag-and-drop builder and integrate different email marketing tools.

Check out our SeedProd review if you want more details about the plugin.

First, you will need to install the SeedProd plugin on your website. For more details, see our step-by-step guide on how to install a WordPress plugin.

Upon activation, go to SeedProd » Landing Pages from your WordPress admin panel and click on the ‘Set Up a Maintenance Mode Page’ button.

Click the Set up maintenance mode page button

After that, you will need to select a template for your maintenance mode page.

Simply hover over the template you want to use and click the check icon.

Select the maintenance mode template in SeedProd

Next, you can customize your maintenance mode page using the SeedProd drag-and-drop builder. The plugin offers standard blocks for text, images, and buttons and advanced blocks such as a countdown timer, contact form, and social sharing buttons.

Simply drag any block you want from the menu on your left onto the template on the right.

SeedProd visual editor

SeedProd also makes it super easy to arrange the blocks in the template the way you want. Plus, you can click on any element to edit its color, size, text, font, and more.

Once you are happy with the maintenance mode page, click the ‘Save’ button to store your changes. Next, head over to the ‘Page Settings’ tab and click the Page Status toggle to Publish your page.

Publish your maintenance mode page

Now, whenever you are updating your website, simply enable the maintenance mode page on your WordPress website.

To activate the page, head over to SeedProd » Pages from your WordPress dashboard and toggle Maintenance Mode to ‘Active.’

Activating maintenance mode for a WooCommerce store

You can then visit your website to see the maintenance mode page in action.

Here’s what it may look like:

Maintenance mode page preview

For ideas on how to design your maintenance mode page, check out our article on maintenance page ideas.

We hope this article helped you fix the ‘Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance’ error in WordPress. You may also want to read our guide on fixing the most common WordPress errors and the difference between coming soon vs maintenance mode.

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Editorial Staff

Editorial Staff at WPBeginner is a team of WordPress experts led by Syed Balkhi with over 16 years of experience in WordPress, Web Hosting, eCommerce, SEO, and Marketing. Started in 2009, WPBeginner is now the largest free WordPress resource site in the industry and is often referred to as the Wikipedia for WordPress.

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101 CommentsLeave a Reply

  1. Syed Balkhi says

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  2. Jiří Vaněk says

    Thank you for explaining why this file is created on FTP. I haven’t been able to figure out why it creates sometimes and sometimes it doesn’t. I dealt with it mainly on foreign websites, when I was asked about a repair. I knew about the FTP file, but I didn’t know why it was created and stayed there. From your article I learned for the first time much more about how this whole mechanism works.

  3. Mich says

    Hi, this tutorial works for me temporarily; when I try to update a plugin (any one), it keeps saying that the update failed, and the maintenance error message comes back up again. I signed out and signed back in a few times, refreshed the page, deleted the maintenance file every time it appears again, but nothing’s working.

    Any idea what’s causing this?

    • WPBeginner Support says

      There are many possible reasons, we would recommend using the recommendation from the end of our article for a workaround!

      Admin

  4. Tek Child says

    Hello,
    First of all, thanks for saving my site. I had the same problem with my localhost website and was so tensed because I was about to make it live today. This problem occurred when I tried updating ewww image optimizer. I don’t know how to say thanks to you.
    Thanks for the information.

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