Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance. Check back in a minute

When your site updates plugins, themes, or the WordPress core itself to the next version, it is put in maintenance mode.

Rest assured that seeing the message “briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance check back in a minute” is completely normal—you have not been hacked!

But let’s take a deeper dive into what “briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance check back

What happens during WordPress maintenance mode?

During maintenance mode, WordPress downloads necessary update files to your server, extracts them, and installs these new files.

There are essentially two different types of maintenance modes:

  • The first one, as described above, is done automatically by WordPress, when themes, plugins or the WordPress core needs to be updated,
  • The second type of WordPress maintenance mode occurs when you want to manually update your own WordPress site, and don’t want your site visitors to be bothered by the updates. This can be done by installing a WordPress maintenance mode plugin.

With regards to the latter instance of WordPress maintenance mode, where you’re manually forcing it, you can also use a code snippet (instead of plugins) to force it:

Specifically, you’ll need to add the following code to your functions.php file:

// Activate WordPress Maintenance Mode
function wp_maintenance_mode(){
if(!current_user_can('edit_themes') || !is_user_logged_in()){
wp_die('<h1 style="color:red">Website under Maintenance</h1><br />We are performing scheduled maintenance.We will be back on-line shortly!');
add_action('get_header', 'wp_maintenance_mode');

However, note that the error message “briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance check back in a minute” usually happens during the former situation of WordPress maintenance mode: when WordPress is automatically updating without your input.

Here’s what happens when WordPress automatically updates:

During the maintenance process, it creates a new file called .maintenance in the root directory. This means that technically, the page is not an error but a notification of what’s currently happening with your WordPress website.

Assuming the update worked normally, the script will complete, and WordPress will automatically remove the .maintenance file so the message disappears and site visitors will be able to see your regularly scheduled live site once again.

The problems occur when the “briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance check back in a minute” message is still shown even after the update is supposedly complete.

Let’s take a look at what may have gone wrong while in WordPress maintenance mode and how you can fix it:

Persistent messaging after a completed update: what went wrong?

The “briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance check back in a minute” message occurs most often when the WordPress core is being updated.

It can also be caused by:

  • A server’s slow response time
  • The interruption (or timeout) of an update script or a low memory issue

This message can also happen when the maintenance file thinks there are some updates it still needs to finish.

Kinsta found that this often happens when users click “update now” on plugins very quickly. Brian Jackson explains, “WordPress by default staggers updates in order, but if there is even a moment of a delay in the connection, this could result in a sudden conflict, triggering the stuck maintenance mode.”

In the situation described above, the problem is that the .maintenance file did not get erased, which is why the message continues to display even after maintenance mode is technically completed and over.

Another potential reason for the “briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance check back in a minute” error message? You may be using a WordPress maintenance mode plugin. If it’s running, this error message will persist despite the fact that you may have fixed all other possible errors.

How to get out of WordPress maintenance mode

The best and simplest way to get WordPress out of maintenance mode is to delete the .maintenance file. You’ll have to manually remove it from the root directory of installation, so don’t attempt unless you’re familiar with this process and have a backup plan in place in case you make any mistakes.

There are two ways to get to the root directory:

Via File Transfer Protocol (FTP)

To access the root directory via FTP, you’ll have to use a software program like Filezilla to facilitate the connection.

Via cPanel

When you access the root directory via cPanel, you have to go to File Manager.

After you gain access, go to the root of the site and/or the public HTML folder and look for the wp-config.php file.

Locate and delete the .maintenance file.

After you’ve deleted the .maintenance file, you can refresh your website and you’ll be out of WordPress maintenance mode.

However, if you can’t find a .maintenance file, look for the file called wp-activate.php in the root directory. Find the WP_INSTALLING parameter once you’re there and change it from true to false (it should look like this: define(«WP_INSTALLING», false);). Save the file and refresh to see your changes.

Taking maintenance mode into your own hands with plugins

While we’re on the subject of WordPress maintenance mode, it may be useful to detail plugins available on the market for enabling maintenance mode on WordPress:

1. ManageWP

This isn’t exactly a plugin, but connecting your websites to ManageWP will give you access to an easy-to-implement maintenance wall for your website.

Maintenance mode is as easy as clicking a button. You also have two available templates: Website Under Maintenance and Coming Soon,

so no matter why you need to go into maintenance mode, your visitors will be given the right message.

2. Maintenance

Offering both a premium and free version, Maintenance (super creative name, right?) is one of the best-selling WordPress maintenance mode plugins available.

Some of their top features included with the free plugin are:

  • The ability to create your own maintenance mode design (with a full-screen background if you choose)
  • Ability to switch the http 503 code on and off with ease
  • Excluding pages from maintenance mode
  • Logins for validated users

The premium version also includes countdown timers and opt-in forms (typical of similar coming soon page plugins), social media links, and additional options for background content.

The premium plugin is available for a one-time payment of $25.

3. WP Maintenance Mode

WP Maintenance Mode offers just one plugin option and it’s completely free (no premium version available).

Some of the most interesting aspects of this feature-rich plugin include:

  • An easy to use customizes for changing text, colors, and backgrounds.
  • Mobile responsive design and other SEO options.
  • Email opt-in forms that can export to .csv.
  • Excluding certain URLs from maintenance mode.
  • WordPress Multisite support.

4. Coming Soon & Maintenance Mode

Whether using the paid or free version, many refer to the Coming Soon and Maintenance Mode plugin is known as the #1 maintenance mode plugin currently on the market.

The most useful aspect of this plugin is that it’s a 2-in-1, allowing you to create either a coming soon or maintenance mode page without having to install additional plugins (which could potentially slow down your website).

The Coming Soon & Maintenance Mode plugin works well with any WordPress theme and is easily customizable in terms of structure or design. You can use this plugin on WordPress Multisite, like the aforementioned WP Maintenance Mode plugin.

Though the free version offers extensive functionality, grab the premium version for a few extra bells and whistles, including:

  • Shortcode support.
  • Secret links for clients to view unfinished/unpublished WordPress websites.
  • Opt-in forms and a referral system.
  • Google Analytics.

The premium version of this plugin starts at $29 for a personal license for an annual plan.

Getting out of WordPress maintenance mode: what’s next?

A few final thoughts on getting out of WordPress maintenance mode:

  • Check if your updates have been applied correctly. Re-apply them to make sure and refresh your website to ensure that the maintenance mode error message is no longer there.
  • Use a staging site to try out any updates you want to make instead of trying them out directly on your WordPress website, just to avoid problems such as those listed here. Staging sites is a feature offered by your web host, so make sure to find one that offers staging if avoiding mistakes because of live changes is important to you!
  • Keep your blog secure by working with a tool like BlogVault

Wrapping up

The next time your website displays the message “Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance check back in a minute”, there’s no need to panic. You have the tools to diagnose the problem if the message doesn’t go away once updates are complete. Simply remove the .maintenance file and troubleshoot with the wp-activate.php file if problems still persist.

In some cases, a persistent “briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance check back in a minute” error message can be avoided—make sure you’re not clicking your plugin update buttons too quick! In other cases, it’s unavoidable and you’ll have to wait until updates are completed to regain normal use of your website.


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