“Say what now??? Briefly?? It’s been like 10 minutes!!!”
If you’re reading this then you probably haven’t experienced this issue before and your WordPress site is unavailable… and it’s been a lot longer than a minute.
This type of error is not common and tends to appears after a plug-in update has attempted to complete. Thankfully it rarely becomes an issue even when an update fails but when it does it can leave your locked out without a key! Luckily we can show you a backdoor that will return your site to you.
As a safety precaution, and an indicator to users, WordPress puts the site in maintenance mode before starting the update. This prevents users from trying to save data during the process for example. Once WordPress completes the update process it takes the website out of maintenance mode, thus restoring normality.
If something happens before the site is taken out of maintenance mode (this usually means a PHP timeout) the execution of code stops so the site remains in maintenance mode indefinitely. All we need to do is figure out how WordPress achieves maintenance mode and undo it manually.
Luckily it’s all very simple. WordPress places a hidden file into your main directory named “.maintenance”. In case you’re not familiar with these types of files: this is a dotfile. Dotfiles are hidden files on Unix based systems like Linux or OSX. Deleting it may be difficult without the right tools since you may not see them in a normal directory listing.
How Do I Fix It
You’ll need to access your site server using an FTP program. This will give you a view of the files that are stored in the space that your WordPress site lives in. If you haven’t got the first clue about what FTP is then you need to read our FTP definition page. You can use a standalone application like Filezilla (which we love and encourage you to research) or an online tool that your hosting service should provide.
When you have access to the server files via FTP and if you cannot see the .maintenance file you should enable the “view hidden files” option. This is most often found in the “view” menu of the program or window you are using. If you can’t find this option, consult the documentation of your application.
Once switched on you should see the “.maintenance” file in the list. Simply delete it to make your woes go away.
What if that didn’t fix it
If removing the .maintenance file did not resolve the issue for you then your WordPress site may have an unfinished update that is preventing your site from loading fully. Luckily, we have another How To that deals with that issue: