As you build or maintain a WordPress website, you’ll likely find moments where you need to make your site inaccessible to the public. This is – rather obviously – referred to as putting your site into “maintenance mode.”
Whether you’re performing simple plugin updates or making full-scale site modifications, maintenance mode is a handy tool to have in your developer’s toolkit. But when should you use it? Are there times when it’s not appropriate? And how can you implement it most effectively?
These are questions I’ll endeavor to answer today in full. So pull up a chair and get settled. Let’s unpack maintenance mode, shall we?
Why Maintenance Mode?
There are several situations where maintenance mode comes in handy.
The first situation is when you are performing website updates which may involve updating themes and plugins, or installing and setting up a new theme. Usually, a new theme means you have to at least set up some basic options to get it to look and function as intended. Maybe it involves custom widget areas. Or perhaps you want to customize the colors and the fonts or build custom page layouts.
Whatever the case may be, you certainly don’t want your visitors confused as they browse posts and pages and see a different look each time. In such situations, enabling maintenance mode lets them know you are working on your site and they can check back later once you have everything set up the way you want.
Leading Up to a Live Launch
The second situation is when you are building your site on a live domain and you don’t want your visitors to see it until you’re ready to officially launch. But maybe you’d still like a way to grow your email list and or social media following while you get your site ready.
In this case, it would make little to no sense to show an unfinished website with no content and a constantly changing design. An elegant solution is to enable maintenance mode which allows your visitors to sign up for your newsletter and follow you on social media.
There are a few different ways to put your website into maintenance mode. In the sections below, we’ll explore those options and the benefits and tools for each.
Note: As always, make sure you have a current and reliable backup of your site before making any changes. For more information on how to backup your site, check out 4 Top WordPress Multisite Backup Solutions Tested and Reviewed and How to Backup Your WordPress Website (and Multisite) Using Snapshot. We always recommend backing up with our Snapshot plugin as it’s compatible with both standalone and Multisite sites.
This article was written by Brenda Barron and originally published on WPMU DEV Blog.