My WordPress Site Is Stuck in Maintenance Mode – What Do I Do?

What to do when WordPress is stuck in maintenance mode?

The first thing is don’t panic!

This problem is quite easy to solve and, in this article, I’m going to walk you through the steps to solve it.

But first, what is WordPress ‘maintenance mode’.

maintenance mode

1. What Is WordPress Maintenance Mode?

WordPress maintenance mode is part of the WordPress automatic updating system.

Every time you update your version of WordPress or any of the plugins you have installed on your WordPress site, WordPress briefly activates the WordPress maintenance mode.

Usually it happens so quickly that you don’t even notice it. At the most, you’ll just see a message like this:

wordpress dashboard

2. Why Does WordPress Get Stuck in Maintenance Mode?

There are a number of possible reasons why WordPress gets stuck in maintenance mode.

If you have a lot of plugins that are all updating one after the other, a timeout may occur, and this can cause WordPress to get stuck in maintenance mode.

Another possible cause is attempting to update plugins that are not compatible with the version of WordPress that you have installed.

Or vice versa: installing a version of WordPress that is not compatible with one or other of the plugins you have installed.

Yet another possible cause is closing your browser while WordPress is doing a software update.

Whatever the cause, there’s a simple fix…

3. How To Fix WordPress Maintenance Mode

Whenever WordPress updates its own software or a plugin that you have installed, it creates a maintenance file in the root directory of your WordPress installation.

Normally, WordPress will remove that maintenance file as soon as the update is complete. But sometimes, for one reason or another, WordPress is unable to remove that maintenance file.

And that’s when your WordPress site gets stuck in maintenance mode.

So, what you need to do is manually remove the maintenance file.

The easiest way to do this is via the FTP client in your cPanel.

You can access this by clicking on ‘File Manager’ in your cPanel:

file manager in cpanel

On the next screen, choose the ‘root directory’ and make sure to check the box that says ‘show hidden files’:

root directory

Next, simply scroll down the directory until you find the .maintenance file.

Then just right-click and choose ‘delete’:

delete the maintenance file

Now refresh your browser.

And that’s it!

You’ve removed maintenance mode from your WordPress site and you’re free to carry on as normal.

Watch This Video: 'Stuck in WordPress Maintenance Mode? Here’s How to Get Out of It' (2 mins 12 secs)

4. WordPress Will Delete the Maintenance File By Itself

When WordPress creates the maintenance file, it also logs the time the file was created.

WordPress allows 10 minutes for the update to be completed and it then automatically deletes the maintenance file.

So, nine times out of ten if you just wait 10 minutes, the maintenance file will be deleted, and you’ll be back to normal.

5. Getting Outside Help When WordPress Is Stuck in Maintenance Mode

If you’re not comfortable going into the root directory and deleting a file, you can always get a WordPress expert to do it for you.

I often hire WordPress experts to fix technical problems on WordPress and it usually costs as little as $10 or $15.

Here’s how to do it:

Create an account on Fiverr (if you don’t already have one).

Login to your Fiverr account and type ‘fix WordPress’ in the search box:

fiverr fix wordpress

Under ‘Refine Results’ click ‘Bug Fixes’ (you’ll see there are 191 sellers on Fiverr offering this service):

wordpress stuck in maintenance mode

On the next screen you’ll see all the offers related to ‘fix WordPress bugs’, in this instance 4626:

wordpress stuck in maintenance mode

Look for a seller who has a 5-star rating and at least 100 reviews:

wordpress stuck in maintenance mode

In the top right corner there’s a box where you can sort the results by ‘Relevance’ and ‘Best-selling’. It used to be that you could sort by price (least expensive to most expensive) but Fiverr have recently removed that option:

wordpress stuck in maintenance mode

6. How To Avoid Maintenance Mode

To avoid getting your website stuck in maintenance mode try to ensure that your plugins and themes are compatible.

To do this, go to Plugins > Installed plugins and click on ‘Details’ for any given plugin:

wordpress stuck in maintenance mode

A small window will open up containing basic information about that plugin. It will tell you up to what version of WordPress the plugin is compatible with:

wordpress stuck in maintenance mode

To find out what version of WordPress you are currently running, just scroll down to the foot of your dashboard and you’ll see the version of WordPress in the far-right corner:

wordpress stuck in maintenance mode

7. Summary

So let's quickly recap. This is what to do if your site gets stuck in 'Maintenance Mode':

1. Go to the File Manager in your cPanel (in your web host's user area)
2. Go to the Root Directory (public_html)
3. Make sure 'show hidden files' is checked
4. Find a file named .maintenance and delete it
5. Then refresh your browser

That's it. Your WordPress site should be up and running again!


This post was most recently updated on July 22nd, 2020

Rob Powell
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