Do This to Fix 503 Service Unavailable Issue in WordPress

A while back when I tried to check my WordPress dashboard here at BforBloggers, I had an error stating ” 503 service unavailable”.

Here’s how the error looks:

It says 503 service unavailable, the server is temporarily busy, try again later.

So, is this a serious error?

No. Not as serious as internal server error or 404 redirect error.

That means you don’t have to do much work to get back your site online.

Here are all the possible solutions that can help you get rid of the 503 error and the one that worked for me.

The Contents

  • Clear Browser Cache
  • Check If You Can Still Access FTP
  • Check DNS Propagation
  • Check With Your Web Host
  • Try Hit & Trial With Plugins and Themes

Clear Browser Cache

Clear your browser cache before trying anything else. 503 is not a severe error like the White Screen of Death, so you don’t need to panic.

It’s just that your browser is not able to find and access the server where your website is hosted.

It might just happen that the content of your blog or website changed, and your cache plugin is forced to render the old data coming from your browser.

This can cause an extremely high loading shift on servers, making it hard to access essential files responsible for loading your website.

To fix this, simply go to your browser settings and clear your cache. Reload the site once again and check if the problem persists or not.

You should also clear the cookies, just to make sure it isn’t something causing the error.

In most cases, this method would work.

Check If You Can Still Access FTP

Try accessing your server through FTP. You can use FileZilla client to do that. In rare cases, your server could have gone down, leaving you to get a 503 error.

Sometimes servers are turned off momentarily for maintenance. It might just happen that you tried to access your site when it was down.

If you can successfully login to your server via FTP, well, that means you have nothing to worry about. Everything is fine, and it’s not going to take a long time before you get your site back.

While you are in the FTP area, look for anything malicious in the wp-admin directory. It’s always a good idea to keep your database clean and free from unwanted files.

Doing so will ensure you have a smooth and fast loading website.

Check DNS Propagation

In my case, when I first migrated BforBloggers to WPX, I got the HTTP 503 error for a brief moment.

I asked the support, which is incredibly quick, to check what’s going on.

The real reason bind the error was my DNS (domain name server) propagation was going on at the moment.

As long as the DNS was unavailable for India, the error kept coming again and again.

Once it finished, everything was back to normal.

You can use DNS Checker to check the DNS for your domain.

Check With Your Web Host

You should reach out to your web hosting company and ask them to take a look at the matter. Their support should be able to tell you what exactly is causing the error.

Ask them to send you the error log for your website and list of all recent changes made into your WordPress database.

Your web host may have a temporary glitch in the server backend which could be a cause of the error. Ask them to fix it as soon as possible.

If you can’t access your site by any means, ask them to restore your website. If you backup your site using a WordPress plugin, send them the backup file, to begin with.

If they handle your backups, let them do it. In this case, all you can do it wait until the restoration is complete.

If your web host fails to solve your problem, you should consider moving to a host with better support such as Siteground, Kinsta, or WPX.

Try Hit & Trial With Plugins and Themes

In the worst-case scenario, there is a plugin that is causing the 503 error.

The easiest way to find which plugin is the culprit is by using the trial and error method.

Login to your server via FTP and start deactivating plugins one by one. You can deactivate plugins by simply changing the plugin file name to something else or adding a number after it.

The plugin is located in the wp-content directory, take a look at the image below to get a better idea:

You can use FileZilla to access your website’s FTP. If you don’t have FTP credentials, check with your web host.

Keep refreshing your page every time you deactivate a plugin and you’ll soon find the culprit.

I’m pretty sure one of the above methods helped you get rid of the 503 error, and you got your site back.

Few things you need to remember are:

  1. Always keep a remote backup of your website and blog. Even if your web host does that for you, you should have backups stored offsite.
  2. Don’t install new plugins without testing on a staging site. You can use WP staging.
  3. Make sure your web host meets your server requirements and you are not getting continuous downtimes.

Let me know which one worked for you in the comments.

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