How to Put Your WordPress Site in Maintenance Mode

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When you make major changes to your website, it may be useful to put your WordPress website in Maintenance Mode. This ensures that your website is temporarily unavailable to the general public. Also during the installation of updates or if you want to try out a new theme this is a godsend.

What is “Maintenance mode”?

Maintenance Mode is a status in which your website is temporarily unavailable to the general public. If you are updating plugins, themes or WordPress, you may already have the message ” Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance. Check back in a minute. “Seen on your website. This message is often shown (very briefly) during the installation of updates.

This text comes from a file called. maintenance. This file is automatically generated by WordPress (during the update). When the updates are complete, the file is automatically deleted again.

If an update fails, the .maintenance file may not be deleted. You must then log in via FTP to manually delete the file.

Maintenance notification “customizing”

The “problem” of the .maintenance file is that it can not be modified by you, because it is automatically generated by WordPress. In order to be able to adjust the “maintenance” report anyway, you can upload a file called maintenance.php to your wp-content folder. The file /wp-includes/load.php contains  the following code:

This code checks whether there is a file in the wp-content folder called maintenance.php. If so, it is used when maintenance is being carried out. The great thing about this is that you only need to upload a maintenance.php file in your wp-content folder. You can adjust this yourself with HTML and  CSS and the file is automatically used by WordPress.

Enable maintenance mode with .htaccess

You can also enable the maintenance mode yourself by logging in via FTP and adding a code to the .htaccess file :

The above code activates maintenance mode and returns the status code 503 (” Service Unavailable “) to the browser of visitors. In addition, this code sends your visitors to the maintenance.html file. Of course, you have to make this file yourself, but you could place your logo on it with the accompanying text: “Temporarily unavailable due to maintenance”.

The code above also takes into account you as a website owner. On the third line, you can change 123.456.789.000 to your IP address, so that you can see your website.

The above code will make your website unreachable for all visitors, except for you (if you enter your IP address). Do not forget – after maintenance – to remove this code from your .htaccess file!

Maintenance Mode plugins for WordPress

There are also several WordPress plugins for “Maintenance” pages. Well, it is not advisable to install a plugin everywhere, but if you remove the plugin (after maintenance) that is not a big problem.

A number of good Maintenance plugins at a glance:

1: WP Maintenance Mode

WP Maintenance Mode is a free plugin with which you can create a maintenance page yourself. You can add a logo yourself and even choose a background photo. You can also add a registration form for your newsletter. You might get some new subscribers while you are doing maintenance on your website :-).

You can also add a “countdown” to your maintenance page with WP Maintenance Mode so that your visitors can see how long the maintenance will take.

2: Maintenance

I always use the free Maintenance plug-in myself . This is very similar to WP Maintenance Mode and also gives the possibility to add a countdown. Uploading your own logo is no problem. Optionally, you can display an icon with which WordPress users can log in so that they can see the website. I often use this plugin to let my customers watch on their website, without the “general public” seeing the website.

You can decide yourself in the Maintenance plugin whether you want to give the status code 503 as well. This status code tells search engines that your website is temporarily unavailable for maintenance. If your website is more in a sort of “Coming Soon” mode, you should not use this status code.


It does not matter whether you use a plugin or use the above-mentioned options to build a maintenance page yourself. Please note that if you use the status code 503, you do this temporarily . This is really meant for temporary maintenance on your website. If you use a Maintenance plug-in for a sort of “Coming Soon” page, you can better ensure that the status code 503 is turned off.

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