Oops! I Broke WordPress! How to Fix Your Auto-Update Problems

picture of masonLast week our ever-enthusiastic Help and Support Dude broke the internet.

Okay, so I exaggerate. He gave in to the nag message and pressed the “please update now” button on a WordPress installation, taking down one of our test sites. While no one was looking he craftily fixed the problem and then disappeared into the sunset.

If you’re an everyday end user, the WordPress auto-update button may seem like a godsend but it can cause endless trauma when you end up with a message like this:

Message that says "Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance. Check back in a minute."

WordPress experts will know instantly how to fix it, but plenty of people will be like “OMG! WHAT AM I GOING TO DO NOW?!

It is actually remarkably easy to fix. As the message “Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance. Check back in a few minutes,” suggests, WordPress has created a maintenance file and placed it in your root directory.

Here’s how to get it:

1. Log in to your FTP and navigate to the root of your website. There you’ll find that pesky file. It’s called “.maintenance“:

maintenance file in root folder

2. Delete the file


That was easy!!!

Tip: This tends to happen with WordPress websites that have been installed using a 1-Click install like Fantastico. If you have installed with Fantastico you should update as outlined below.

How Do I Update WordPress Correctly?

This method does take longer than the one-click method but you’re much less likely to have problems.

  1. Backup (you should be doing this regularly anyway!)
  2. De-activate all plugins
  3. Download the latest version of WordPress
  4. Unzip WordPress
  5. Upload new versions of the wp-admin and wp-includes directories
  6. Upload new versions of root files except wp-config.php
  7. Choose any files from wp-content that you want (do this carefully – don’t upload the whole folder at once as you could overwrite important data!)
  8. Visit the home page, run database upgrade if prompted
  9. Re-activate plugins one by one.

MOST IMPORTANTLY! Don’t let Help and Support Dudes with itchy fingers near your site.