Briefly Unavailable for Scheduled Maintenance – WordPress

Are you seeing the ‘Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance’ error in WordPress? This error usually appears while updating WordPress core, plugins, or themes. Your WordPress site fails to finish the update which leaves you stuck in the maintenance mode. Well don’t panic. The fix is easy and I’ll walk you through.

Error Message:

Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance. Check back in a minute


When  you update any WordPress theme or plugin, WordPress  puts itself into provisional maintenance mode. And during this time, when visitors access your site, they are notified by the“Briefly Unavailable” error message that means your website is undergoing an update at the moment and they should check back in some time..

Let’s say you’re updating your plugins and someone happens to visit your site during the process. They’d see that notification message, say “okay” to themselves, and hopefully refresh the page in a minute. There is nothing to bothered about this error; it is a normal behavior from WordPress.

Although most of the time, this error disappears on its own once the update process is over yet sometimes the update process may get crashed due to reasons such as slow server response, script timeouts and memory issues. And in that case, this error can show persistently and turn into a panicky and dreadful situation.

Let’s say you’re updating your plugins and someone happens to visit your site during the process. They’d see that notification message, say “okay” to themselves, and hopefully refresh the page in a minute. This message is normal behavior.

What’s not normal is when your server has a slow response time or for some reason the update script is interrupted (or times out). In that case, the friendly notification morphs into a moment of dread and panic.

Fix Error Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance

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 to disable maintenance mode.

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

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

One of the easiest and fastest ways to fix this issues is by removing the .maintenance file manually from WordPress directory. Below are a few ways to perform this task.

Fix Error #1: Delete temporary .maintenance file via FTP

  1. Log into your web server via your favoriteFTP software.
  2. Locate the root of your WordPress install (this is where you’ll find folders for wp-content, wp-admin, and wp-includes)
  3. Look for a file called .maintenance
  4. Delete it
  5. Refresh your WordPress site and sigh a giant sigh of relief that everything’s normal again.

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

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

Fix Error #2: Delete temporary .maintenance file via File Manager in your Host

In case you have don’t have FTP access to your server or you are, not enough familiar with the use of FTP, you can pick this method to fix this error.

This is a web-based file manager and you don’t need to download an FTP software. For deleting one file or such quick task, web-based file managers are helpful.

  1. At First, you need to login with your credentials in to your web hosting account and then search and hit the File Manager Icon. It will move you to a new page, where you have to simply click  ‘Upload Files Now’ button to access the ‘File Manager.’
  2. Now find .maintenance file in your WordPress directory.
  3. Do right click on .maintenance file and choose the delete option.
  4. Now refresh your website.

Fix Error #3: Update the wp-activate.php

If above methods are not working for you, you can give this method a try. 

  1. 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.
  2. You will need to either open the file using your hosting company’s file manager or download it on your computer using FTP.
  3. Next, you need to find the codedefine ('WP_INSTALLING', true) and change the true to false.
  4. So your code will look like this:define ('WP_INSTALLING', false)
  5. After that you need to save the changes and upload the file to your hosting server using FTP. If you’re using the hosting company’s file manager, then simply saving the file should get you out of maintenance mode.

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