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WordPress Error: "Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance. Check back in a minute."

Were you busy updating something on your WordPress or BuddyPress site and suddenly this message appeared on a big white screen? Don’t fear. Don’t panic. We can fix this in less than 5 minutes.

Option One: Log into your “cpanel,” go to your “file manager” (click the option to view all “hidden files”), and navigate to the document root directory of your website
Option Two: FTP into the document root directory of your website

Hint: The document root directory for your website is where you would find all the main WordPress files like wp-config.php and your main directories like wp-admin/ and wp-includes/

Do a quick glance through the files or sort them by “Last Modified.” You should see a file called “.maintenance” with a very recent “Last Modified” date on it. See it? Good. Now delete it.

How to Fix This WordPress Error "Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance. Check back in a minute."

Viola! Your site is now working again!

But why did this happen in the first place?

Chances are you accidentally refreshed the page or navigated away while you were in the process of updating a plugin, theme, or your version of WordPress When WordPress is processing an update, it temporarily puts your site into Maintenance Mode. Usually, this change in status lasts less than 10 seconds so you and your customers will never notice it. Luckily for you, restoring access is a fairly quick and painless process (assuming, of course, you have access to cpanel or FTP).

“Wait, that didn’t fix my problem!”

The other common possibility is that you are hosting your site with WP Engine (or another managed WordPress hosting company) and you tried to load your site while their system was in the middle of creating a snapshot of your server. Do you recall trying to clone your site to a staging environment or maybe you were trying to create a backup? That can place your site temporarily in maintenance mode.

Go make some tea, wait 10 minutes, clear your cache, refresh your browser, and then if your site STILL won’t load, give your hosting company’s support line a call. You pay them a monthly fee so ask for help and get your money’s worth.  🙂

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