How to Fix “Briefly Unavailable for Scheduled Maintenance”

As a WordPress user, chances are that you might have already encountered this not very desirable sentence: “Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance. Check back in a minute”, after an attempt to access your WordPress site. 

And while we understand how frustrating error messages like this can be, there’s really nothing to worry about as “Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance. Check back in a minute” error message can be fixed in no time! And that’s exactly the purpose of this article. 

But first, let’s see what might have caused this message in the first place. 

What Causes the “Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance” Message to Pop Up on WordPress?

First of all, you have to know that in order to do an update of core software, the WordPress built-in update system puts your website in the so-called ‘maintenance mode’. This way it’s ensuring that it can do a safe update on the files being affected. You might have already seen this yourself, since WordPress does, in fact, give you this info in the dashboard while it’s doing the updates. 

While your site is in maintenance mode, all the visitors who are trying to access it will encounter the “Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance. Check back in a minute” error message. It’s safe to say it’s not even an error message, it has to be there when you’re site is going through maintenance. But, it should only stay there for a short amount of time. 

In regular circumstances, WordPress enables the maintenance mode imperceptibly, does the update and then, just as imperceptibly, disables the maintenance mode. So for most of the time, this should be a pretty imperceptible process – you shouldn’t notice any kind of change in your site, and it should take only about a couple of seconds. 

But, what sometimes happens is that your WordPress site becomes stuck in maintenance mode. That’s why the message “Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance. Check back in a minute” has gained its infamy, and starts to pose a problem – it just won’t go away, while also preventing the visitors from getting access to your site. 

There isn’t only one reason  why a WordPress site would get stuck in maintenance mode – there are several, with the most frequently occurring ones being: 

  • You’ve closed your browser tab while the update was still in process. 
  • You attempted to do a simultaneous update of a large number of plugins or themes, and something stalled in the process. 
  • The glitch could also be caused by some sort of a compatibility issue with the update. 

But, this is no cause for concern, since it’s pretty easy to fix. You can fix the message “Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance. Check back in a minute” on WordPress by deleting one single file via FTP. 

And next, we’re going to tell you exactly how to do that. Read on! 

How to Fix “Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance. Check back in a minute” on WordPress

When WordPress is putting your website into maintenance mode, it also adds a file with the name .maintenance in the root folder of your WordPress website. This folder is the same one that houses your wp-config.php file. 

So, in order to unstuck your site and get it out of maintenance mode, and get rid of the “Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance” message at the same time, what you simply need to do is go and delete this .maintenance file. 

Here’s a little step by step guide which will tell you how todo it easily. 

Step 1: Connect to Your WordPress Website via SFTP

For starters, you’ll have to use an FTP program so you can connect to your site via the SFTP (aka the Secure File Transfer Protocol). You can do this with different programs, but let’s take FileZilla as an example.

You can usually find the credentials of your site on the dashboard of FileZilla. Once you manage to connect with your site, you should be able to see a list of all the files of your site in the public folder. 

The .maintenance file is located in your "public" folder at Kinsta

Step 2: Delete the .maintenance File 

All that remains for your right now is only to delete the file going by the name .maintenance; this will ensure that your site is out of maintenance mode and the problem will be fixed! 

And that’s it! The moment you delete this file, you should be seeing your WordPress site functioning just as normally as before! 

Delete the .maintenance file

If you don’t happen to see the .maintenance file, then you’ll probably need to make certain files visible, aka show hidden files. You can also do this in FileZilla, by clicking on the “Server” tab at the top and then choosing the option “Force show hidden files”. You should be able to see the .maintenance file immediately afterward. 

Now that we’ve settled this easy-to-fix but annoying issue, let’s look at some tips and advice on how to prevent it from occurring in the future! 

Force show hidden files

*Alternative Route – via cPanel

If you want to delete the .maintenance file through cPanel, you need to go to the root directory of your site via cPanel, and then go to File Manager.

After you manage to access the directory, you will need to go to the root of the site or the public HTML folder and search for the wp-config.php file.

Then you can find the location and also delete the .maintenance file.

After you’ve deleted the .maintenance file, try and refresh your website and you’ll see how your site will already be out of the WordPress maintenance mode.

Note: If you can’t find the .maintenance file, you can try and look for the file called wp-activate.php, which should be in the root directory. Once you’re there, locate the WP_INSTALLING parameter and change it from true to false (this is how it should look like: define(«WP_INSTALLING», false);). Then simply save the file and do a refresh so you can see your changes.

How to Prevent and Avoid the “Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance” Message on WordPress

1. Don’t Close the Browser Tab While It’s Doing the Updates

Make sure to always keep your browser tab open when your WordPress site is updating its functionality; otherwise you run the risk of getting it stuck into maintenance mode. You’ll be able to safely leave WordPress and close the browser tab once you see the message that says “Disabling Maintenance mode…All updates have been completed”. 

2. Don’t Make Updates to a Large Number of Themes and Plugins at the Same Time

You should limit the number of updates you want to do at once. What you can do instead is to update the themes and plugins regularly, when their new versions become available, as opposed to updating them all at the same time. 

This also goes for a generally well-groomed site, and not only for preventing it from getting stuck in maintenance mode: if you want your site to continue to be secure and functional, then making updates at regular intervals is the way to go. 

3. Make Sure the Themes and Plugins You Use Are Compatible with WordPress

Before setting out to run any updates, you need to make sure that what you’re updating (the theme or the plugin in question) is actually compatible with the version of WordPress your site is running on. 

This is very easy to check; you simply go to the plugin or theme in question and click the View Details link – on the right side you should be able to see info Compatible up to: …

4. Use a Plugin for Enabling Maintenance Mode

By activating the maintenance mode through a plugin, you’ll be able to provide a professional-looking cover with the “Coming Soon” mode or a “Website Under Maintenance” templates, and at the same time, you’ll be able to do whatever kind of updates or upgrades you want to your website in private. 

These will help you organize the experience of maintenance mode in WordPress better and can help you prevent getting your site stuck in maintenance mode. 

Plugins like this help you to make your own mode design when your site needs to go into maintenance mode. Some of them also allow you to switch the HTTP 503 code on and off very easily. Some premium versions also include countdown timers, as well as opt-in forms (which are usually typical coming-soon page plugins of a similar type), but also social media links, and other additional options for background content. Some of them also provide shortcode support, secret links for clients to view unfinished or unpublished WordPress websites, and also, Google Analytics.

Some of the plugins that you may want to look into are the following: 

  • ManageWP (technically not a plugin, but still deserves to be here) 
  • Maintenance
  • WP Maintenance Mode
  • Coming Soon and Maintenance Mode (which is the most popular maintenance plugin at the moment)

Some Final Notes 

So, this pretty much wraps up our article on how to fix the message “Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance. Check back in a minute”. You’ve seen that there’s actually nothing to worry about and that even though it may seem persistent and annoying, this error message is actually quite easy to fix. 

By using an FTP or SFTP protocol, and also through the option of cPanel, you’ll be able to connect to your website and find the .maintenance file in there, and then delete it, which will easily solve the problem and make your site again available and visible for visitors! 

And in order to avoid this in the future, you can always try to follow the tips and advice we’ve included in this article. They will help you keep your site functional and ready at any time, without having to worry over its unavailability. 

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