Updated March 12, 2016
WordPress is great, but you’ll probably spend some time setting new things up or tweaking old things. In other words, there are occasions when you might want to put your site in maintenance mode. Here’s what I mean and when it would be a good idea.
What is maintenance mode?
It’s likely you’ve already come across sites in maintenance mode. You know a site is in maintenance mode because you don’t see anything except a “coming soon” screen or “we’re conducting maintenance at the moment and will be back in a little while.”
When would you use maintenance mode?
Maintenance mode comes is handy if:
- You are making a lot of changes to your design, or you’re updating and you don’t want anyone to see the wonkiness while you make the changes (use sparingly so you don’t frustrate your readers with an inaccessible website too often).
- Something goes wrong on your site and you want to quickly shield it from the outside world.
- You have a brand new site and are still getting it up and running. In other words, it’s under construction.
- You have a demo site where you can experiment and tweak and it’s not intended for the public.
I will tell you that I rarely put my site in maintenance mode these days. If I need to make tweaks, I’m familiar enough with WordPress that I just go for it and hope for the best.
How do you put your site in maintenance mode?
This task is best handled via a plugin.
Recently A long time ago, I set up a demo site and recorded this video walking you through the steps. It’s an old video, but I’m leaving it up so you can see my process. I’ve also left the video notes below for reference. The notes below have been updated.
Can’t see the video? Watch it here.
- In this video I’m using the WP Maintenance Mode plugin, but if you go to Dashboard > Plugins > Add New > “maintenance” in the search field, it’s likely you’ll find a better one now.
- Before installing a plugin, always be sure to check when it was last updated and if it’s been tested with your version of WordPress. If it seems outdated, search for a different one to use. I always choose the ones with lots of stars.
- Activate the plugin. This does not activate maintenance mode, just the plugin itself.
- To put your site in maintenance mode (therefore making the maintenance mode screen appear) you must configure Settings by clicking the “Settings” link underneath the plugin title in your Installed Plugins screen.
- Then, configure the fields you like. For my demo site, I changed “Title,” “Heading” and “Text.”
- Save your changes!
Don’t forget to read my plugin tips and the things you should be careful of when using them.