One day, you’re updating your WordPress plugins automatically, all of them at the same time, and thinking how nice it is you don’t have to do them one at a time anymore. Life sure is sweet, you’re thinking, as you pour yourself a beverage of your choice and sit back to watch WordPress do your work for you.
And then it happens: up comes a screen which says something about how WordPress is in maintenance mode and will be back shortly. Only… that’s it. That page is all any part of your WordPress installation will return. You can’t even do anything from the backend of your install. Your blog has entered a world not of posts and themes, but of 1994 HTML. The signpost up ahead: the Maintenance Zone!
Cue the scary music. Seriously, because you can’t do a single thing from where you are. But don’t panic. Fortunately, the solution is pretty simple:
- Download a copy of WordPress while you’re doing steps 2-5. You most likely won’t need it, but if something goes wrong, you’ll need to reinstall it, and the quicker you do that, the less time you have with a big white page spitting black text at your visitors.
- Log onto your website via FTP. Cpanel > File Manager will do, or you can use an FTP client.
- Make sure you’re set to see all (invisible) files, such as .htaccess. We’re hunting a little rabbit that’s got that dot ahead of his name.
- Look for a file called .maintenance. It’ll probably be in your main blog directory (where wp-config.php is).
- Delete .maintenance.
That should solve the problem. There is a small chance you might get a funky PHP error on your site after that. If that’s the case, you’ll need to reinstall WordPress. You may also need to reinstall a plugin, so read the error message you’re getting. If it mentions files in the plugins directory, you should reinstall the plugins you were upgrading. (Don’t worry: the vast majority of them these days retain your settings.)