How to Fix “Briefly Unavailable For Scheduled Maintenance. Check Back in a Minute.”

Have you ever encountered the ‘Briefly Unavailable For Scheduled Maintenance. Check Back in a Minute.‘ error on your website?

The message usually appears when your WordPress core, plugins, or themes are being updated. The message disappears as soon as the update is over. Sometimes, updates go wrong, and that’s when your website shows the maintenance mode error.

👨‍🎓 Don’t worry! We will show you how to fix the error. In this tutorial, you will learn:

Let’s dive in.

What is the ‘briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance’ error? Why does it occur?

You might be surprised to learn that the ‘Briefly Unavailable For Scheduled Maintenance. Check Back in a Minute.’ error is not really an error, it’s a notification. It appears when the core software, plugins, or themes of your site are being updated.

During an update, a lot goes on in the background. WordPress downloads updated files into your site’s server. It extracts the files and installs them on your website.

So you can imagine, when updating your website, some of your website’s functionalities are affected. This could lead to a bad user experience. And you could end up losing precious user data.

To prevent these issues from occurring, WordPress creates a temporary file called the .maintenance file and puts your site in maintenance mode. This file generates the ‘Briefly Unavailable For Scheduled Maintenance. Check Back in a Minute.’ message and shows it for as long as the website is being updated.

WordPress takes only a couple of seconds to run updates. Once the update is complete, it automatically deletes the .maintenance file and your website goes back to normal.

Sometimes, however, WordPress fails to delete the file and that’s when your site gets stuck in maintenance mode.

briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance. check back in a minute.

So why does WordPress fail to delete the .maintenance file?

WordPress could have failed to delete the .maintenance file due to any of the following reasons:

  • You closed your browser in the middle of an update
  • Your server timed out while running updates because it was overloaded. This can happen when you update too many plugins and themes together
  • Some of your themes and plugins are incompatible with your WordPress version or with each other

💡 No matter what the reasons are, you can fix the issue by following the steps we have covered in the next section.

How to fix the ‘Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance. Check back in a minute.’ error

To fix the error, you will need to delete the .maintenance file from your site’s root folder. There are two main ways to access the root folder:

  1. Using FTP and an FTP client, such as FileZilla.
  2. Via cPanel File Manager, if your host offers cPanel.

ℹ️ We will show you both the methods. But first, a few housekeeping steps…

To begin, clear your browser cache. The browser often makes a copy of a website and presents users with the copied version (in other words, a cached version) to speed up the page loading process. So it’s possible that your site is back to normal and the error is just a cached version of the site.

Next, take a backup of your website. To remove the error, you will need to access the backend of your site and delete the maintenance file. If you ended up deleting the wrong file, it would lead to bigger problems. So take a backup. In case, something goes wrong, you can restore your site and try again.

If you already have a system in place where your site is being backed up daily, then proceed with the steps below. Otherwise, you will need to take a manual backup since you can’t access your wp-admin and can’t install a backup plugin. That said, manual backups and restorations are difficult, but your hosting provider might be able to help.

👉 Now, let’s get started.

Fix maintenance mode via FTP

Install an FTP client like FileZilla on your computer.

Next, connect FileZilla to your server using the FTP credentials from your host. If you’re not sure how it works, you can follow our WordPress FTP guide.

Once you’re connected to your server, access your site’s root folder by going to the public_html folder and then locate the .maintenance file in the root folder.

If you can’t find the file, go to Server, select Force showing hidden files, and then try locating the file again.

Right-click on the .maintenance file and select Delete. That’s it.

maintenance file in filezilla
Deleting .maintenance file in Filezilla

Fix maintenance mode via cPanel File Manager

If your host uses cPanel, you can fix the WordPress maintenance mode error using cPanel’s File Manager tool rather than needing to connect via FTP.

Log into your hosting account and go to cPanel → File Manager → public_html → .maintenance. Right-click on the .maintenance file, select Delete and check your site. It should be back to normal.

maintenance file in file manager
.maintenance file in File Manager

💪 That’s it folks! That’s how you remove the ‘Briefly Unavailable For Scheduled Maintenance. Check Back in a Minute.’ error from your site.

Problems you might face after deleting .maintenance file

After deleting the .maintenance file, WordPress users tend to face two common issues. They might find that their site is still stuck in maintenance mode, or they might find that their site is broken. If you are facing any of these issues, don’t worry. Read on to find solutions.

Still stuck in the maintenance mode

If your site is still stuck in maintenance mode after following the steps above, it’s most likely because your wp-activate.php file needs updating. The file is located in the same place where you found the .maintenance file, i.e., in your website’s root folder. Open the file, and you should see the following code: define ('WP_INSTALLING', true)

Replace the word ‘true’ with ‘false’ and save the file. That’s it. You should stop seeing the error by now.

Site broke after fixing the maintenance mode error

After you remove your website from maintenance mode, you may find your site broken. This happens because of compatibility issues with one of your plugins or themes. You will need to disable your plugins and themes one by one to figure out which one is breaking your website. You can follow our WordPress troubleshooting guide to learn how to debug these types of issues.

How to avoid getting stuck in maintenance mode in the future

You may have fixed the issue for now, but there’s no guarantee that this won’t happen again. Deleting the .maintenance file over and over again is a hassle. It’s best to take preventive measures. Here are some tips to prevent encountering the maintenance mode error again on your WordPress website:

  1. Don’t close your browser while running updates
  2. Avoid updating too many plugins & themes at the same time
  3. Check for plugins & themes compatibility issues
  4. Upgrade to a better hosting plan

1. Don’t close your browser while running updates

After you start an update on your WordPress site, make sure you don’t close your browser tab until the updates are complete. Whether you are updating from the dedicated Updates page or the Themes or Plugins page, do not close the tab until WordPress notifies you that the update is complete.

updates page in wordpress
WordPress notifying when an update is complete on the Updates page

2. Avoid updating too many plugins & themes at the same time

Bulk updates are convenient, but they can lead to plugin conflicts, which will cause your website to become stuck in maintenance mode.

So try to limit the number of updates you carry out at a single time. The best practice is to update the plugins, themes, and the core one at a time. We recommend checking the website and running updates every alternate day.

3. Check for plugins & themes compatibility issues

Before updating any plugin or theme make sure to check for compatibility issues. Use a staging site to test updates.

A staging site is a replica of your website. Creating a staging site is easy. If your host doesn’t already offer a dedicated staging feature, all you need to do is install and activate a staging plugin. It’ll take a backup of your entire website and use it to create a staging site. You can run updates on your staging site first, and if everything goes well, update your live site without worrying about compatibility issues.

4. Upgrade to a better hosting plan

If you tried all the steps above and your site still gets stuck in maintenance mode, then upgrade to a better hosting plan. Most likely, your hosting provider can’t handle your site’s update request. A better hosting plan will offer better resources so that your site can carry out updates without any issues.

👉 To find a good option, check out our collection of the best WordPress hosting.

Concluding how to fix ‘briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance’ error

The ‘Briefly Unavailable For Scheduled Maintenance. Check Back in a Minute.’ error is unnerving. It doesn’t tell you what’s wrong or how to remove the error and fix your site. But thankfully, it’s a common WordPress error and can be easily removed.

All you need to do is connect to your site server through cPanel File Manager or FTP and delete the .maintenance file located in your root folder.

To prevent your website from being stuck in maintenance mode in the future, consider testing updates on a staging site before carrying them out on the live site. Also, limit the number of updates you apply at once, and remember to always keep your browser tab open when running updates.

Do you have any questions about the maintenance mode error? Let us know in the comments section below!

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