How to recover from a failed WordPress update

Occasionally, a WordPress update will fail for one reason or another. This is not only frustrating for the site administrator, but can also render the site unusable for visitors.

When WordPress performs an automatic update, it puts the site into “maintenance” mode.  WordPress will not exit  maintenance mode until AFTER the upgrade has completed successfully.  If the upgrade fails, then you will need to do some surgery to recover your site.

Determining if your WordPress site is stuck in maintenance mode is simple.  The easiest method involves browsing to the site homepage to see if there is a message similar to: “Maintenance Mode – SITE is currently undergoing scheduled maintenance.”  It is important to note that users cannot login to the site while it is in maintenance mode.

Fortunately, forcing WordPress out of maintenance mode is quite simple.  Follow these steps to recover your WordPress site:

  1. Connect to your site via an FTP client such as FileZilla.
    1. An FTP client is a software application installed on your computer which allows you to transfer files to your webhost.  FileZilla is a free, open-source FTP client.
  2. Once connected, open the main WordPress root directory.
  3. Delete the “.maintenance” file from the root directory.
  4. Refresh your WordPress blog in a web-browser to verify that your site is no longer in maintenance mode.
  5. Now, use the FTP client to open the wp-content directory.
  6. Delete the “upgrade” directory to clean out the failed update files.

Your WordPress installation should now be ready to use again.

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