WP stuck in maintenance mode

It can be pretty terrifying if you are trying to access your WordPress site or admin and all you get is a screen that says

“Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance. Check back in a minute.”

Don’t panic though, this is usually not a big problem at all and you can normally fix it in under 5 minutes.

Why is this happening?

When you update the WordPress core, themes, or plugins WP puts your site into a built in ‘maintenance mode’. What should happen and does 99% of the time is that when the updates are finished it will drop back out of maintenance mode and your site will be live again.

Sometimes things get a bit stuck and there are a couple of possible reasons for this, the most likely are:

  • You closed your browser or lost your internet connection while you were in the middle of an update.
  • You asked WP to update a really big amount of plugins or themes at the same time.
  • Something you’ve updated doesn’t like something else that’s installed and is giving a compatability error.

How to fix it

When WordPress puts your site into maintenance mode, it creates a small file in the home folder of the site, which is automatically deleted when the updates are finished. The problem is that in case the file hasn’t been deleted, so the site hasn’t dropped out of maintenance mode, so you need to go and do it yourself.

  1. Connect to your site via (S)FTP, the command line, or the file manager in your control panel and deleted the file called ‘.maintenance‘ from the home folder of your WP install (this will be the same folder that contains ‘wp-config.php’
    If you are hosting with S4, then you will have received info on how to connect via SFTP when we setup your account. If you are using another host then you should have either (S)FTP connection instructions and/or access to a file manager in your hosting control panel from them.
  2. That should have solved the issue. It’s a good idea to clear any caches, i.e. LiteSpeed Cache in your WP dashboard just to make sure.
  3. You should also check updates in plugins/themes and if any have not completed then run them again.

Hopefully, and in most cases, you won’t have the same problem again but if you do get the same thing happening the next time you update then it’s likely that there is a conflict somewhere between some of your installed plugins and your theme which you will need to troubleshoot.