A student was upgrading WordPress on a Ubuntu 16.10 host and his blog got stuck in maintenance and inaccessible. He reached out to me to see how to resolve the issue. The message on the site was:
It doesn’t happen a lot, when it it does, it can be very disorienting, especially for new users. This student was in panic mode thinking his site is completely destroyed. I had to calm him down that the site was ok, but that WordPress creates a .maintenance file in its root directory during upgrade.
If for some reasons WordPress upgrade is stuck, one can simply delete the .maintenance file from its root directory and make the site accessible again. Unless the file is removed, your site will remain inaccessible by your users.
However, when you find yourself in similar situation where your WordPress blog is stuck while upgrading, simply browse to the WordPress site root directory and delete the hidden file called .maintenance.
If you already have root access via the terminal to WordPress host, simple run the commands below to delete the .maintenance file from the root directory, assuming your WordPress content are stored in the default root directory on Ubuntu systems.
sudo rm /var/www/html/.maintenance
If the content are stored in a custom root directory, then adjust the command appropriately to reference the root directory.
For those using (S)FTP to manage their WordPress files can launch their favorite (S)FTP clients and browse to the root directory and delete the hidden .maintenance file.
When you do that, refresh the page and you will be able to access the site again. It’s that simple.
Now that you know, the next time it happens, which is very rarely, you should be able to get your sites working again. I hope this helps and please come back soon.
To learn how to upgrade WordPress properly, please read the post below:
Students Tutorial – Upgrading to WordPress 4.7