How to Fix ‘Briefly Unavailable for Scheduled Maintenance. Check Back in a Minute’

briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance check back in a minute
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Most WordPress users who keep up with consistent updates have likely encountered the “Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance. Check back in a minute” message at least once. However, if you’re seeing it for the first time, it can be quite confusing.

Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance. Check back in a minute

Rest assured that this error is completely normal – you haven’t been hacked! When your site updates plugins, themes, or WordPress core itself to the next version, it is put in what is known as ‘maintenance mode’. Understanding this process and how it works can help you with resolving the ‘unavailable’ message you’re seeing now.

In this post, we’ll explain what WordPress maintenance mode is as well as what the “Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance” error message means. Then we’ll show you how to both fix it and prevent it from happening in the future. Let’s get started!

In This Article 🧐

Our team at WP Buffs helps website owners, agency partners, and freelancer partners solve problems such as getting your site out of maintenance mode when it’s stuck. Whether you need us to manage one website or support 1,000 client sites, we’re ready to help.

What Is WordPress Maintenance Mode? 👨‍🔧

In order to understand what the WordPress “Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance. Check back in a minute” message means, it’s important to first understand what maintenance mode is and how it works. There are essentially two different types.

The first is implemented automatically by WordPress. This is when the Content Management System (CMS) downloads necessary update files to your server, extracts them, and installs them on your site. This process works for any themes, plugins, or WordPress core files you need to update.

With automatic updates, the process is usually quick, simple, and seamless. Depending on how many files need to be replaced, it may take anywhere from a couple of seconds to a few minutes. WordPress will usually notify you when it is enabling and disabling maintenance mode:

Enabling maintenance mode in WordPress.

The second type of WordPress maintenance mode occurs when you want to manually update your WordPress site and don’t want your site visitors to be bothered by the updates. You can accomplish this by installing a WordPress maintenance mode plugin or adding a code snippet to your functions.php file to force it.

What Is "Briefly Unavailable for Scheduled Maintenance. Check Back in a Minute”? 🚧

During the automatic maintenance process, WordPress creates a new file called .maintenance in your site’s root directory. When this happens, a Maintenance Mode page temporarily appears with the following message displayed to your visitors:

The purpose of the Maintenance Mode page is to prevent anything on the site from appearing broken while updates and patches are being made. Therefore, technically, it’s not an error but rather a notification of what’s currently happening with your WordPress site.

Assuming the update worked normally, the script will complete and WordPress will remove the .maintenance file. Then the message will disappear and your site visitors will be able to see your live content again.

Unfortunately, problems occur when the “Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance. Check back again in a minute” message is still shown even after the update is supposedly complete. This most often occurs with WordPress core updates, and can be caused by a handful of issues, such as:

  • A server’s slow response time
  • The interruption or timeout of an update script
  • A low memory issue
  • The maintenance file thinks there are some updates it still needs to finish
  • You’re trying to update too many things at once (and too quickly)
  • You’re using a maintenance mode plugin
  • You closed out the browser tab before the updates were complete

Regardless of the reason, WordPress stuck in maintenance mode is a frustrating situation to deal with. Fortunately, there are some quick and simple fixes.

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

If you’re still seeing the “briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance check back in a minute” WordPress message even after your updates are complete, you can assume something happened to interrupt the process. More specifically, the most likely issue is that, for whatever reason, WordPress did not erase the .maintenance file.

The easiest way to fix this message is to take WordPress out of maintenance mode by manually deleting the .maintenance file. Depending on your hosting provider, there are two methods you can use to do this:

  1. Using a File Transfer Protocol (FTP) client
  2. Using cPanel and File Manager

Note that the following methods involve manually removing the file from the root directory of your installation. Therefore, you shouldn’t attempt this unless you’re familiar with the process and already have a backup of your site, which you can create using a secure tool such as BlogVault.

How Do I Take WordPress Out of Maintenance Mode? (2 Methods)🔙

Once you’ve made the necessary preparations for editing your site’s files, you can proceed with your preferred method to fix the “briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance check back in a minute” error.

1. Take WordPress Out of Maintenance Mode Using FTP

To access your site’s root directory via FTP, you’ll have to use an FTP client such as FileZilla to facilitate the connection. Once you’re connected to your server, a list of your site’s files will be found under the public_html folder. Locate the .maintenance file:

The WordPress .maintenance file in FTP.

After you find it, right-click on it and select Delete:

Deleting the WordPress maintenance file.

Now return to your WordPress site and refresh your browser. The “briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance” message should be gone.

If you can’t find the .maintenance file listed in your site’s directory, it’s possible that it’s ‘hidden’. To see whether this is the case, click on Server > Force showing hidden files at the top of the FileZilla window.

2. Use cPanel to Take WordPress Out of Maintenance Mode

If your hosting provider uses cPanel, you can access your site’s root directory and delete the .maintenance file through the File Manager feature. To do so, log into cPanel, then select File Manager under the Files section:

The cPanel File Manager.

Within the File Manager, click on the name of your site to the left, then look for the .maintenance file within the /public_html folder:

The WordPress maintenance file in cPanel File Manager.

Right-click on the file, then select Delete:

Deleting the maintenance file in cPanel.

Return to your WordPress page in a new browser tab. The ‘unavailable’ message should now be gone.

If you’re unable to find the .maintenance file in your site’s root directory, the next step is to look for the wp-activate.php file:

The wp-activate.php file in cPanel.
Once you locate it, open the file. Then look for the WP_INSTALLING parameter:
The 'WP_INSTALLING' parameter.

Change the value from ‘true’ to ‘false’ so it looks like this:

define( 'WP_INSTALLING', false );

When you’re done, save your file. Then refresh your site to see if anything changes.

Tips for Preventing the WordPress “Briefly Unavailable for Scheduled Maintenance” Message 📋

As you can see, when your site is stuck in maintenance mode, taking it out is as simple as deleting the .maintenance file. However, while this may help you fix “Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance. Check back in a minute” in WordPress now, it doesn’t necessarily mean it won’t happen again.

It’s important to get to the underlying issue. Here are some tips you can use to prevent this error message from reappearing in the future:

  • Don’t close out your browser while updates are still running. If you exit your browser before all updates are finished installing, it can cause your server to timeout and, in turn, fail to complete the process and update the .maintenance file.
  • Avoid making too many updates at the same time. Best practice is to update your themes, plugins, and core files one at a time and as they become available. This can help minimize the chances of your WordPress site getting stuck in maintenance mode. While bulk updates are convenient, they can lead to plugin conflicts and other issues.
  • Use a staging site to test any updates you want to make. Compatibility issues can sometimes cause a snag that will interfere with the updating process. Therefore, it’s important to verify any new themes or plugins you’re using are compatible with your WordPress version and each other. Rather than trying them out directly on your live site, use a staging site first.
  • Consider upgrading to a higher hosting plan. PHP scripts run WordPress updates and if your storage is low or your server is slow to respond, it can interrupt the installation process before the system is able to turn off maintenance mode. Upgrading to a better hosting plan can help resolve issues related to low memory.

Aside from the above tips, you might also consider enhancing maintenance mode on your WordPress site by using a plugin. As we mentioned earlier, you can use maintenance mode plugins when you want to manually update your site.

Top WordPress Maintenance Mode Plugins 🔌

If you want to display a different message than the default WordPress “Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance. Check back in a minute,” a plugin is an effective way to do so. Let’s take a look at some powerful and flexible tools to consider for when you want to put your WordPress site into maintenance mode:

ManageWP

The ManageWP Maintenance mode feature.

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

Using the ManageWP Maintenance Mode feature is as easy as clicking on a button. You also have two templates to choose from:

  • Website Under Maintenance
  • Coming Soon

You can edit the templates as needed. Therefore, no matter why you need to go into maintenance mode, your visitors will see the right message.

Maintenance

The WordPress Maintenance plugin.

Offering both a premium and free version, Maintenance is one of the best-selling WordPress maintenance mode plugins available. Some of its top free features include:

  • Ability to create your own maintenance mode design (with a full-screen background if you choose)
  • Option to switch the HTTP 503 code on and off with ease
  • Excluding pages from maintenance mode
  • Login permission 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.

Coming Soon and Maintenance Mode

The SeedProd Coming Soon and Maintenance Mode WordPress plugin.

The Coming Soon and Maintenance Mode plugin by SeedProd is a freemium plugin that is known as the number one maintenance mode plugin on the market. One of the best things about it is that it’s a two-in-one tool, enabling you to create both Coming Soon and Maintenance Mode pages without having to install additional plugins.

Moreover, it acts as a landing page builder, so you can use it for many purposes beyond creating a Maintenance Mode page. It also works well with any WordPress theme and is easily customizable in terms of structure or design. It’s multisite compatible to boot.

Although 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 $39.50 per year for a personal license.

WP Maintenance Mode

The WP Maintenance Mode plugin.

WP Maintenance Mode is another popular and helpful plugin you can use to enhance your Maintenance Mode page in WordPress. Some of the most interesting aspects of this feature-rich plugin include:

  • An easy-to-use customizer for changing text, colors, and backgrounds
  • Mobile responsive design and other Search Engine Optimization (SEO) options
  • Email opt-in forms that you can export to a CSV file
  • Excluding certain URLs from maintenance mode
  • WordPress Multisite support

Plus, it’s completely free. With over one million active WordPress users, you can feel confident knowing that it’s a useful and reliable tool.

Frequently Asked Questions 📥

For automatic updates, WordPress creates a temporary .maintenance file in your site’s root directory. You can locate this file under the /public_html folder of your site. If you use a plugin to create a Maintenance Mode page, you can configure the options under the plugin’s settings.

You can put WordPress into maintenance mode using two methods – manually forcing it via code or with a WordPress maintenance mode plugin.

For the former, you can enable maintenance mode on your WordPress site by adding the following code snippet to your site’s 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');

If you want to force maintenance mode in WordPress via a plugin, you have a handful of options. Some we recommend include Maintenance, WP Maintenance Mode, and the Coming Soon and Maintenance Mode plugin.

To manually turn off WordPress maintenance mode, you need to delete the .maintenance file from your site’s root directory. Depending on your hosting provider, you can do this via cPanel and File Manager or by connecting to your server via an FTP client.

Wrapping Up 🎉

Any time you come across an unexpected error message in WordPress, it’s concerning. This is especially true if you don’t know why you’re seeing a page reading: “Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance check back in a minute” where your site should be.

As we discussed in this post, the simplest way to fix the WordPress “briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance” message is to take your site out of maintenance mode. You can do this by deleting the .maintenance file in your site’s root directory, either via cPanel or FTP. To prevent it in the future, avoid making too many updates at once and make sure you have reliable hosting and maintenance support.

If you’re struggling with WordPress maintenance mode, you’re in good hands with WP Buffs’ Care Plans. We’ll help you bust out of WordPress maintenance mode if you don’t want to accidentally break your website’s back end with any of these fixes. Whether it’s your own site or a client’s you need help with, we’ve got you covered.

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