How to Put WordPress Site in Maintenance Mode

You may occasionally want to perform some maintenance on your site. Perhaps you’re going through server upgrades or testing a new theme or some new functionality and etc. At this point, you don’t want visitors seeing a strange layout or broken webpages on your site, right? So it’s a good practice to put your site or blog into maintenance mode when you decide to make some major changes.

When the maintenance mode is enabled, only the administrator (logged in users) can access the site, and all other users will be redirected to a temporary maintenance page containing the message stating that your site is undergoing maintenance and will be back online shortly.

If you wish, you can also create a customized message to visitors letting them know the reason for doing maintenance and when the site is expected to be back online.

WordPress Maintenance Mode Plugins

While it’s possible to do so without a plugin, however, the plugins are the optimal way for handling the downtime of your WordPress site during maintenance. It allows you to create a custom maintenance page for people to see while logged-in administrators can still work and access both front-end and back-end of the site. With the maintenance mode plugin, you can have maintenance mode activated on your blog simply and quickly.

WordPress maintenance mode plugins i recommend:

  • Ultimate maintenance mode
  • WP maintenance mode

1.  Ultimate maintenance mode

Although there are many plugins available to do this functionality, Ultimate maintenance mode is my personal favorite plugin and I use it all the time whenever i’m making major changes to my site. I always tend to keep my maintenance page as simple as possible with the help of this plugin.

The Ultimate Maintenance Mode plugin displays a screenshot of your website with an overlayed window and the reason your site is down. This plugin has a simple and easy to use interface that allow you to turn maintenance mode on and off with a few clicks.

Here are the additional reasons why i prefer this plugin:

  • Returns a 503 http response and retry header to stop search engine from indexing the temporary state of the site and tell them to come back later, so your site will not lose its rankings while it is out of service.
  • The plugin provides a WYSIWYG (What You See is What You Get) editor to add HTML contents, links and images to the maintenance page so you can style the message in any way you want.
  • The plugin works with any theme and it even uses HTML5 and CSS3.

To enable maintenance mode for your website:

Step 1:  From the dashboard, go to Plugins » Add New, and search for Ultimate Maintenance Mode, then install the one by Seed prod.

Step 2:  Install and Activate the plugin.

Step 3:  Once activated navigate to Settings » Maintenance Mode  » check “Enable” and configure the options.

Step 4:  Hit ‘Save Changes’.

Once maintenance mode is activated, logged out visitors will now see a screen like this.

2.  WP maintenance mode

WP Maintenance Mode is the most popular maintenance mode plugin out there. The plugin has a lot of useful features such as adding a countdown timer to your maintenance page, exclude specific URLs from maintenance mode and the ability to create your own CSS Style and link to your CSS file in the plugin settings. If you want to take your site offline until a specified time you can do that by adding a countdown timer to the function.

The plugin comes with a variety of themes to be displayed to your visitors when maintenance mode is activated. You can also select which user-role (administrator, author, editor, contributor or subscriber) should be able to access the backend and frontend of your blog.

To enable maintenance mode for your website:

Step 1:  From the dashboard, go to Plugins » Add New, and search for WP maintenance mode, then install the one by Frank Bültge.

Step 2:  Install and Activate the plugin.

Step 3: Once activated, navigate to your settings page and click on the settings link underneath where it says WP Maintenance Mode.

Step 4:  Change Plugin Activate to “True” and configure the options (see screenshot below).

Click to enlarge

Step 5:  Click Save button.

Your site should now redirect users to the maintenance page when they visit your site.

How to test your maintenance page?

To see your maintenance page, open up another browser (make sure you’re not logged in) and type your site’s URL in the address bar.

Sometimes the maintenance process may take longer than expected, in that case, it’s a good idea to update the information on the maintenance page to keep your users informed about the progress.

When you’re done updating your website, simply uncheck the “Enable” box to disable maintenance mode.

What other plugins do you use to put your site into maintenance mode?

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