You will see different types of errors when managing a WordPress site. Some errors are fatal in nature like white screen of death that generally occur due to PHP errors. On other hand, some errors are simple and you can fix easily. “Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance…” is one such error that you can fix yourself.
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What is Briefly Unavailable Error?
In order to keep your site safe and secure, you have to consistently update WordPress core, theme, plugins. You can update these stuff straight from the admin panel under “Dashboard > Updates” section. However, the problem is that there could be real users on your site while you are trying to update the backend stuff. This could cause problems as the update may bring different layout or functions to your site.
In order avoid new users landing on your site during update process, WordPress will temporarily put your site under maintenance mode. Any users landing on the site during update will see an error message like below mentioning “Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance. Check back in a minute”.
In addition to update process, WordPress also triggers the maintenance mode during few other processes like importing content.
WordPress will disable maintenance mode and release the site for public when update is completed successfully. You can check enabling and disabling of maintenance modes when updating WordPress core, theme or a plugin. Below screenshot shows the steps involved when you update WordPress core.
Similarly, below is another example to see the maintenance mode message when updating a plugin.
How to Fix the Error?
Now that you understand when WordPress will show this briefly unavailable error. The important factor in the above process is the time taken between enabling and disabling the maintenance modes on your site. This can vary depending upon many factors like your hosting speed, internet connection and conflicting theme/plugin.
1. Refresh the Page
When you have slow internet connection or poor hosting, the update process may run too slow. With this, users visiting your site will see the error until the completion of update process. In most cases, update will complete automatically and WordPress will disable the maintenance mode. You can simply refresh the page after few minutes to reload and check the error is fixed.
If you are stuck with maintenance page then follow the below instructions.
2. Delete .maintenance File
WordPress will add file named .maintenance in your root installation to keep the site under maintenance. The file will be automatically deleted when the maintenance mode ends. There are situations like your internet is disconnected or update is failed due to any other reason. In such case, the .maintenance file will be available in your server thus preventing your site to recover.
The only option for you is to find and delete the maintenance mode file in order to bring your site to online. There are two ways you can delete the file from your WordPress server.
- Using FTP
- Using File Manager app from your hosting account
Remember, as the file name is .maintenance, FTP clients will hide these type of files by default. You have to enable viewing hidden files to see the file on your server.
2.1. Delete Maintenance Mode File with FTP
- Login to your server with FTP account and go to the root folder where you have installed WordPress.
- Locate the file named .maintenance.
- Right click on the file and delete it from the server.
2.2. Delete Maintenance Mode File from File Manager
File Manager is one of the useful app in cPanel and other custom hosting. You can use this app on the server to browser and edit files. However, the location of File Manager app may be different in different hosts. For example, below is the screenshot from Bluehost. After logging into your account, you can click on “Advanced” section and find File Manager app under “Files” section.
In other hosts, you can use the search function to locate the app easily. Open File Manager and go to your site’s root directory. Similar to FTP, locate .maintenance file and delete it from the server. Check your site and it should be working fine without error.
Avoiding the Error
If you do not want to see this error, the best way is to put your site under maintenance mode using a plugin and then update the content in backend. Otherwise, make sure of the followings:
- Do not refresh WordPress admin panel when the update or import process is running.
- Have a stable internet connection.
- Run your site on a strong hosting server that supports the traffic level of your sites.
Do not get panic when you briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance error. You can delete the .maintenance file using FTP or from File Manager to recover the site online. You can run the update again to keep the site updated.