You’re a beginner, but you’re getting this WordPress thing down—until the Briefly Unavailable for Scheduled Maintenance error rears its ugly head that is.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Updating and managing content changes, installing new plugins, or adding new photos to your slider — you can do it all.
Look at you!
You’re even going above and beyond and actually updating your plugins and themes once a week (but not without doing a backup first).
Briefly Unavailable for Scheduled Maintenance
You notice several plugins need to be updated, so you create a backup, head over to the Updates panel and run those updates. Easy, right?
Until you accidentally navigate away from that panel or close the tab before the updates have a chance to complete. You head back over to your site to finish those updates and you don’t see your website.
Instead, you see a white screen where your website should be and a simple but scary looking error message:
Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance.
First things first, don’t panic! You made a backup first, right? You’re good—you’re gonna make it champ.
Even if you didn’t run a backup first (why would you do that?!), chances are, there’s an easy fix that can clear this up.
So, What Happened?
The site’s now in maintenance mode. It thinks you’re still running updates, so it placed something called a maintenance.php file in your website’s files.
This file displays the error message you saw to any visitors who may have tried to access your site in that brief moment it took to update a plugin.
WordPress automatically removes this file once plugin updates are completed, but in this case, we’ll need to delete it manually.
The first thing you’ll need in order to fix this error is an FTP client, which is a piece of software that lets you browse the files that make up your website.
I use CyberDuck. It’s free.
Once you’ve got that installed, you’ll need the FTP login information that grants you access to your website files. This can be created in your website hosting Cpanel. If this is where things get muddy for you, contact your website manager to get that information.
Pop that info into your FTP Client and log in.
Locate the folder where your WordPress site is installed. Many times it’s located in the root folder, the main folder that you automatically see when you log in via FTP.
It may also be in a subfolder. You can probably figure out which one has your site files by the folder name or by sorting through the folders that have been most recently modified, but this all depends on a variety of factors.
Now, we just have to find the maintenance.php file that’s causing that error message to display. Your FTP client should have a handy search bar that can help you find this.
By default, CyberDuck and some other clients automatically hide files like this so that you don’t accidently remove or change them. Searching for “maintenance.php” in the search bar will force it to show, though.
If you can’t find this, look through the FTP client settings to see how it manages hidden files.
After you find maintenance.php, left click it, and delete it.
It’s that simple.
Now head back to your website and do a refresh. Your website should be back up and running.
If it’s not, it probably isn’t the maintenance.php file that’s causing this error, but so far, this process has worked for me every time this has happened.
Have any other error questions I can help with? Let me know what your biggest WordPress issues are!