Opened your website frontend and was greeted by the “Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance. Check back in a minute.“ message? If you started the WordPress update process, and it’s progressing nicely, the message will be gone on its own. But what if the update is unexpectedly taking a lot longer or even crashed altogether? In that case, your website will be frozen on that page. Even worse, it will stay that way until you interfere and follow the instructions below. See the urgency? Let’s get straight into it – here’s how to fix “briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance“ error in WordPress.
What causes the “Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance“ error in WordPress?
First of all, as we already mentioned, the message is not an error, but a normal part of your WordPress operation. Maintenance is there to ensure user activity or database connections don’t interfere until the process is complete. Here are some common cases when it turns into a problem:
- A WordPress update (including themes and plugins) that has halted or slowed down significantly.
- There’s a malfunction with the WordPress security plugin that launched Maintenance Mode.
- The necessary memory limit is exhausted.
- The server your website is hosted on has timed out. This is often due to a slow connection, or you going over the storage or bandwidth limit.
- You closed the browser tab (or it crashed) in the middle of the process.
- You tried to update too many different things at once. This caused a conflict and the process stopped to prevent damage.
- The things you added or installed are incompatible with your current WordPress version.
The specific source of your problem might or might not be here. However, your first priority is to get rid of the “Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance“ error message. That way, you won’t lose traffic and Google ranking while you look into it.
1. Solve “Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance“ error in WordPress via FTP
The easiest solution to the “Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance“ WordPress error is to access your website via FTP. This is great since you can often be locked out of WordPress Admin Section as well. Download and install an FTP client, or, to make things faster, login to the cPanel (your website dashboard at the hosting website). Here are the steps required to erase the .maintenance file using FTP:
- Access your root folder.
It might be called www or public_html. You’ll recognize it by folder it contains, titled wp-admin, wp-content, and wp-includes.
- Look for a file titled .maintenance.
- Tip. If you can’t find it, make sure you enabled the displaying of hidden files.
For example, in the FileZilla FTP client:
- Click on Server in the top menu.
- Select the Force showing hidden files option from the drop-down list.
- Right-click on the file, and select Delete.
- The error should be gone now.
2. Repair “Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance“ WordPress error using SSH
If your hosting supports an SSH connection, there’s an alternative way to delete the .maintenance file. If you need a reminder for connecting via SSH, check the headline titled Can you access your website in Nginx? in our guide on fixing the 413 Request entity too large error in WordPress. Then, follow these quick steps:
- Navigate to the root folder if you aren’t there already.
- Type this into the Terminal:
- You’ll get a success message, and your WordPress website should be restored.
3. No .maintenance file? Try this instead
If you cannot locate the file responsible for causing “Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance“ error message, follow these 3 methods:
1. Edit the wp-activate.php file
Reconnect to your WordPress website using FTP if you disconnected. Here’s what to do next:
- In the root folder (where .maintainance should be), look for a file titled wp-activate.php.
- Right-click on it, then select View/Edit.
- Find the following line:
define (‘WP_INSTALLING’, true);
- Replace true with false, so that it looks like this:
define (‘WP_INSTALLING’, false);
- Save the changes, and refresh your website frontend to see if the problem was resolved.
2. Disable your plugins and active theme
We presume the error is caused by a theme or a plugin, or a function of one or the other. This seems like a radical step, but can be reversed just as quickly as you made it. For instructions, check our guide on how to fix “Are you sure you want to do this” error. More precisely, headlines Fixing the problem if the plugin caused it and Fixing the issue if a theme was the problem.
3. Ask your hosting for assistance
If nothing you tried so far worked, there’s a deeper problem that might be out of your hands. So why not verify that’s the case? Contact your hosting Customer Service for help, since they are, in most cases, available 24/7 via live chat on their website. And we bet they will praise you for trying these solutions since that saves them time and effort.