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How to Recover WordPress Stuck in Maintenance Mode

WordPress is a powerful and versatile content management system (CMS) used by millions of websites worldwide. One common issue that WordPress users may encounter is the site getting stuck in maintenance mode. This can happen during updates of themes, plugins, or the core WordPress files. When this occurs, visitors see a message stating “Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance. Check back in a minute,” and administrators cannot access the site normally. This detailed blog will guide you through the steps to recover a WordPress site stuck in maintenance mode.

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Understanding Maintenance Mode in WordPress

What is Maintenance Mode?

When WordPress updates core files, themes, or plugins, it automatically puts the site into maintenance mode. This process creates a .maintenance file in the root directory of your WordPress installation. This file contains a message to inform visitors that the site is temporarily unavailable due to maintenance. Normally, this mode lasts only a few seconds to a couple of minutes.

Why Does WordPress Get Stuck in Maintenance Mode?

There are several reasons why WordPress might get stuck in maintenance mode:

  • Interrupted Updates: If the update process is interrupted (e.g., due to a server timeout or internet connectivity issues), the site can remain in maintenance mode.
  • Incomplete Updates: Sometimes updates may not complete successfully, leaving the site in maintenance mode.
  • Multiple Updates: Running multiple updates simultaneously can cause conflicts, leading to the site being stuck in maintenance mode.

Steps to Recover WordPress from Maintenance Mode

If your WordPress site is stuck in maintenance mode, follow these steps to recover it:

1. Delete the .maintenance File

The most straightforward way to exit maintenance mode is to delete the .maintenance file from your WordPress root directory.

Using FTP or SFTP

  • Connect to Your Server: Use an FTP or SFTP client (such as FileZilla) to connect to your web server.
  • Navigate to the Root Directory: Locate the root directory of your WordPress installation. This is typically the public_html or www directory.
  • Delete the .maintenance File: Find the .maintenance file and delete it. This action should immediately take your site out of maintenance mode.
  • Using cPanel File Manager
  • Log into cPanel: Access your hosting account’s cPanel.
  • Open File Manager: Navigate to the File Manager and go to the root directory of your WordPress installation.
  • Delete the .maintenance File: Locate and delete the .maintenance file.

2. Clear the Cache

Sometimes, even after deleting the .maintenance file, your browser might still display the maintenance mode message due to caching.

  • Clear Browser Cache: Clear the cache of your web browser to ensure you’re viewing the latest version of your site.
  • Clear WordPress Cache: If you’re using a caching plugin (like W3 Total Cache or WP Super Cache), clear the cache through the plugin settings.

3. Check for Incomplete or Interrupted Updates

After removing the .maintenance file, check to ensure that all updates completed successfully.

  • Log into WordPress Admin: Access your WordPress dashboard by logging in.
  • Navigate to Updates: Go to Dashboard -> Updates and check if there are any incomplete updates. If there are, re-run the updates.

4. Disable Plugins Temporarily

If the site is still not functioning properly, a plugin conflict might be the issue. Disable all plugins to see if this resolves the problem.

Using FTP or SFTP

  • Connect to Your Server: Use an FTP or SFTP client to connect to your web server.
  • Navigate to the Plugins Directory: Go to wp-content/plugins.
  • Rename the Plugins Folder: Temporarily rename the plugins folder to something like plugins_old. This will deactivate all plugins.
  • Check Your Site: See if your site is now accessible. If it is, rename the plugins_old folder back to plugins and activate each plugin one by one to identify the problematic one.

5. Increase PHP Memory Limit

A low PHP memory limit can sometimes cause the site to get stuck in maintenance mode.

Editing the wp-config.php File

  • Connect to Your Server: Use an FTP or SFTP client to connect to your web server.
  • Edit the wp-config.php File: Locate the wp-config.php file in the root directory of your WordPress installation.
  • Increase Memory Limit: Add the following line of code above the /* That’s all, stop editing! Happy publishing. */ line:

define(‘WP_MEMORY_LIMIT’, ‘256M’);

  • Save and Upload the File: Save the changes and upload the file back to the server.

6. Check File Permissions

Incorrect file permissions can sometimes cause issues with updates and maintenance mode.

Using cPanel or FTP

  • Connect to Your Server: Use cPanel or an FTP client to connect to your server.
  • Check File Permissions: Ensure that the file permissions for your WordPress files and directories are set correctly. Typically, directories should be set to 755 and files to 644.

7. Update WordPress, Themes, and Plugins Manually

If automatic updates are causing issues, consider updating WordPress, themes, and plugins manually.

Manually Updating WordPress

  • Download the Latest Version of WordPress: Get the latest version from
  • Extract the Files: Extract the downloaded ZIP file on your local machine.
  • Connect to Your Server: Use an FTP client to connect to your web server.
  • Upload the Files: Upload the contents of the extracted wordpress folder to your WordPress root directory, overwriting the existing files. Do not overwrite the wp-content folder and wp-config.php file.
  • Run the Update Script: Go to to run the update script.

8. Check for Server-Side Issues

Sometimes, server-side issues can cause the site to get stuck in maintenance mode. Contact your hosting provider to check if there are any server issues affecting your site.

Preventing WordPress from Getting Stuck in Maintenance Mode

To minimize the risk of WordPress getting stuck in maintenance mode in the future, follow these best practices:

  • Update One Item at a Time: Avoid running multiple updates simultaneously.
  • Backup Your Site: Always back up your site before performing any updates.
  • Monitor Update Processes: Ensure that the update process completes without interruptions.
  • Use a Staging Site: Test updates on a staging site before applying them to your live site.
  • Regular Maintenance: Perform regular maintenance tasks to keep your site optimized and updated.


Recovering a WordPress site stuck in maintenance mode involves a few straightforward steps, primarily focusing on removing the .maintenance file and ensuring all updates complete successfully. By understanding the causes and following the recovery steps outlined in this guide, you can quickly bring your site back online. Additionally, adopting best practices for updates and maintenance can help prevent future occurrences of this issue. With these strategies in place, you can ensure that your WordPress site remains accessible, functional, and up-to-date.