Fix a 503 Service Unavailable Error 11 Methods (Screenshots)

Nobody likes to see an error on their website, but as a blogger, we have to be prepared for them because they can arrive at any time.

A 503 Service unavailable Error is a member of the 5xx family. This error indicates that something is wrong with your site’s server right now.

So, we gonna look at some of the most effective ways to fix this problem. Also, I request you to do not panic, I know it feels bad to see our site in such a condition, but believe me, this issue will get resolved soon if you follow the steps shown below carefully.

Also, we’ll learn about how you can prevent this in the future as well as what can trigger a 503 Service Unavailable error. So, stick till the end to learn better.

What exactly is a 503 Service Unavailable error?

According to Mozilla,

The HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP) 503 Service Unavailable server error response code tells that the server is not ready to process the request.

Common causes are a server that is currently down for maintenance or that is overloaded. This response should be used for temporary conditions and the Retry-After HTTP header should, if possible, contain the estimated time for the recovery of the service.

Let’s understand it in simple terms. This error indicates that the server connected with the website is currently under maintenance or is overwhelmed by a lot of requests.

This error doesn’t break anything on your website, but when it appears, you can’t access your site.

These types of errors generally occur with bloggers who are using shared hosting plans for their websites. Btw, a bot attack can also trigger this error, and a CDN as well. We will check what can cause a 503 error later in the post.

Variations Of Error 503

The name of the error changes in different browsers. But, they’ll all contain 503 code, so that you can identify which error has occurred on your website.

Here are all the variations of 503 Error
  • HTTP Error 503
  • Error 503 Service Unavailable
  • The server is temporarily unable to service your request due to maintenance downtime or capacity problems. Please try again later.
  • 503 Service Unavailable
  • 503 Service Temporarily Unavailable
  • HTTP Server Error 503

Whatever the code looks like, they all mean the same. You need to fix it asap, otherwise, it may impact your website.

How To Fix A 503 Service Unavailable Error

We will have to look at every possible solution as most of you aren’t sure about what has triggered the 503 error on your site.

Some of the solutions below involve risk. It is my request to create a backup, a backup gives you the freedom to edit/change any file you want.

Also, after every step, go to your website and refresh it, if it is working fine then congrats, if not then continue to the next step.

Solution 1: Deactivate/Pause Your CDN

If you’ve connected your website to a CDN, especially Cloudflare, then the chances are that your CDN has caused the error. You should disable your CDN for some time and check whether your site is working or not.

Cloudflare is infamous for causing a 503 error. Many people report that Cloudflare brings 5xx errors to their site, you can check their community forum.

Pausing Cloudflare could be a great step in solving a 503 error. Let me show you how to do it.

Step 1: Go to Cloudflare and log in there

Go to Cloudflare, use your email and password to log in.

Step 2: Select your domain

If you have connected multiple domains with your Cloudflare account, select the domain that is having issues currently.

Step 3: Pause Cloudflare

Once you’ve selected the domain, you need to go to Overview. Scroll down until you find Advanced Actions, under it, click on Pause Cloudflare on Site. Cloudflare will ask for your confirmation, click Confirm.

Cloudflare will ask for your confirmation, click Confirm.

What if you’re using a different CDN? Well, every CDN includes some feature that enables you to pause its services. Go to its settings and look for the pause/deactivate option. You can also, take the help of their support team.

Solution 2: Wait and Refresh the Site

This is arguably the easiest solution. Sometimes system resolves the issue on its own. Wait for 2 or 3 minutes and refresh your site, if the error is gone, it means that the server was temporarily unavailable.

You can go to their customer support, and ask the reason why there was a downtime?

Most of the time, hosting companies inform their customers that a shortage is about to occur, they give time and date as well so that a user can prepare for it.

If you don’t get any notifications like these on your device through mail or in-app notifications, then go to your host’s settings, notifications, and turn on Send E-mails for Outage and Maintenance.

Steps might be different in different hosts, but the process is almost similar.

As you can see in the above screenshot, I’ve turned on this option. Now, my host will inform me about future outages.

Some of you might be wondering, how can I prepare my site for future outages? Well, you can turn on caching, so that the users won’t face difficulties in accessing your site even if the site is temporarily down.

If you wanna learn more about server-level caching, how it works and what are its benefits, then check out the article by Cloudways.com, they have explained everything in detail, if you’re a beginner, it will be hard to understand as it is a little technical.

Also, to confirm the status of your site, you can use online tools such as site24x7.com and isitdownrightnow.com

Just go to any of these sites and enter your URL, the tool will tell you what is the current status of your site. If the tool informs that site is currently down, then follow the next solution, if it tells that the site is not down, then use a different device or clear browser cache, and refresh your site again.

HostGator – 0824 661 4102

Bluehost – 00 1 801-765-9400

Godaddy – 040 6760 7600

SiteGround – Chat Support 24/7 – Read How To Contact SiteGround Customer Support

Hostinger – Live Chat Support 24/7 – Contact Now

Kinsta – 24/7 Live Chat Support

Cloudways – +35635500106

A2Hosting – 888-546-8946

DreamHost – 24/7 Live Chat Support

Solution 3: Deactivate Plugins

A poorly coded plugin may trigger a 503 service unavailable error. If you got this error right after installing a plugin on your website or updating an old plugin, then you need to deactivate it or remove it from your site in order to solve this error.

But due to 503 error, most of you would not be able to access your WordPress dashboard. Well, there is a solution for this as well.

Your hosting control panel can help you in deactivating plugins, and the process is pretty simple. let me show you how to do it.

I’m using cPanel to demonstrate the steps, if your hosting panel is different (like hpanel or Site Tools) then don’t worry because the steps are almost similar, you just need to pay attention.

Step 1: Login to your cPanel

You know how to do it (use shortcut: Yourdomain.com/cpanel).

If don’t know your user ID and password, then check the email which you had received just after purchasing your hosting panel.

Step 2: Open File Manager

The File Manager is available under Files, open it once you find it.

Step 3: Open public_html folder

The public_html folder is the webroot for your primary domain name. This tells that public_html is the folder where you place all website files which you like to appear when someone types your main domain (the one you provided when you signed up for hosting).

Click on the folder to open it.

Step 4: Open wp-content folder

The wp-content folder is an essential part of any WordPress installation, which is why you see it in the main directory of any site made with the WordPress platform. It houses any content delivered by users that are not saved in the database. That contains plugins, themes, and uploaded media.

Click on the folder to open it.

Step 5: Rename the plugins folder

This is the most important part. Changing the name of the plugins folder will deactivate all the plugins which are activated right now on your website.

Click on the plugins folder and click Rename.

Rename the “plugin” to something else like “plugins-test”

(Open the image in a new folder if the image is not clear.)

Click on “Rename File” once it is done.

Now, try to access your site. If your site is opening or functioning, you know that one of your plugins was causing the issue.

Step 6: Change the name of the plugins folder back to its original name

Come back to your cPanel and change the plugins folder name to its original name.

If you’ve named it “plugins-test” change it back to its original name, which is “plugins”.

Step 7: Activate the plugins one by one

Go to your WordPress and activate plugins one by one until you find the faulty plugin. Once you know which plugin is causing the issue, simply delete it and find its alternative.

Solution 4: Revert to WordPress Default Theme

Like plugins, themes can also bring this error to your wonderful website. It is really important to download themes from trusted sources only.

Some bloggers put their sites at risk by uploading null themes on their websites. They think by doing that, they are saving some money, but they don’t know how dangerous these themes can be for their website.

If you think the error appeared on the website just after activating or uploading a new theme, then revert to the default WordPress theme as soon as possible.

But reverting back to the default WordPress theme is not simple as plugins. In solution number 3, we saw how easily we deactivated plugins by just changing the name of the folder. However, with themes, the steps are a little different and complicated.

There is no clear video available on youtube about how to revert back to the default WordPress theme, otherwise, I would have linked it in this post, so that you can understand it better.

I suggest creating a backup before you proceed. Also, follow each and every step shown below carefully.

NOTE: You will need to confirm you’re activating a theme that is installed on the site. You can check which themes are installed by viewing the wp-content/themes directory with cPanel.

Step 1: Login to your hosting panel (cPanel)

The first step is always the same. Go and log in.

Step 2: Open phpMyAdmin

The phpMyAdmin option is available under Databases. Click on it to open it.

Step 3: Select Your Database From Left Side Menu

Once you open the phpMyAdmin, you’ll see a lot of options, like SQL, Export, Import, Upload, etc. For beginners, it would be a little overwhelming, but don’t worry, just select the database of your site from the left side menu. Click on +icon and all the databases will appear. Select the correct one.

phpMyAdmin-Databases
Step 4: Open wpmy_options

Under your database, you’ll see a huge list of tables. Don’t get confused, simply use the search box and search “options”, you’ll find the wpmy_options table.

Click on it once you find it.

Step 5: Find the rows called template and stylesheet

Scroll down until you find “template and stylesheet” rows.

As you can see in the above screenshot, I’m currently using the “Contentberg” theme on one of my sites. If you’re using any different theme, like WpOceans, then you’ll see the “WpOceans” name.

Step 6: Modify the option_value for both of these rows to the default theme name

Click the “Edit” option, and change the theme name. EX: twentytwenty

When you’ll click on Edit, a new page will open, in the option_value box, you’ll see your current theme name. Change it to a default WordPress theme. Ex, twentytwenty

Go to your website and refresh. If it was a theme issue, following these steps should resolve it.

Now, contact the theme developer to resolve the theme issue.

Solution 5: Check Server Usage Status

You may not be able to check your site’s server status if you’re on a shared hosting plan. Some hosts do offer this feature even in the shared hosting plans, like Hostinger, but hosts like Hostgator and Bluehost don’t provide this feature.

If you can check your server status, then kindly go to your server zone and see if there is any sudden spike in usage.

If the usage limit is crossed, your site will not work, it is that simple. In that situation, the best thing to do is, contact your customer support and ask why the limit crossed?

Also, most of the time, these sudden spikes come due to bot attacks. These harmful bots use your server way too much and due to that, your server reaches its limitation.

To stop these bot attacks from accessing your website, you can turn on “Bot Fight Mode” in Cloudflare. Turning it on may help your site.

Solution 6: Restart Your Server

According to IBM, If you have an active error, restarting or rebooting a server might solve the issue. Restarting a server closes all the processes that are running and initiates them again. Rebooting a server shuts all running processes and reboots the server.

Restarting your server might help in removing the 503 server unavailable error. Again, this solution is only for those who access their server.

Go to your server zone and click “Restart”, it will take a few minutes, once it is restarted, go and check your website.

The screenshot above shows how to restart the server in Vultr. Your host’s server zone might be different than this.

Solution 7: Turn On Debug Mode

Enabling debug mode in WordPress is fairly straightforward. It allows you to identify errors and resolve them quickly, thanks to a precise log that shows you what went wrong. 

Here is how to enable it.

(Note: If you want a detailed tutorial on how to enable debug mode in cPanel, click here)

  • Log into your cPanel.
  • Open File manager
  • Open public_html folder
  • Edit the wp-config.php file.
  • In the wp-config.php file you’ll see the following line:
define('WP_DEBUG', false);
  • Add these three lines under it.
define( 'WP_DEBUG', true );
define( 'WP_DEBUG_DISPLAY', false );
define( 'WP_DEBUG_LOG', true );
  • It should look something like this:
  • Once you added the code and saved it. When an error is occurred in WordPress, it will write to a file called debug.log. This file can be found in your /wp-content/ directory.

Solution 8: Disable WordPress Heartbeat API

WordPress Heartbeat API works as a communication protocol, using AJAX calls, between browser and server. As the name indicates, the API will transmit continuous pulses and triggers events (or callbacks) upon accepting data. This function permits you to sync all the data between the server and the WordPress dashboard.

This feature shows real-time plugin notifications, but it consumes too much server resources which may bring errors like 503.

There are two ways to totally stop or limit WordPress Heartbeat. We can use a plugin called LiteSpeed cache or add a small code in a functions.PHP file.

We gonna use the second method as most of you wouldn’t be able to access the WordPress dashboard due to this error.

  • Login to your cPanel
  • Open File Manager
  • Open public_html
  • Open wp-content
  • Open themes folder
  • Click on the current theme folder
  • Edit functions.php
  • Add the following code snippet within:
add_action( 'init', 'stop_heartbeat', 1 );
function stop_heartbeat() {
wp_deregister_script('heartbeat');
}

Those three lines of code tell WordPress to deactivate the Heartbeat API. Save the changes to the functions.php file, close it, and try to access your site again.

Solution 9: Disable Proxy

According to some experts, A proxy server is an application or system that acts as an intermediate between your computer and the Internet. Enabling this service can cause difficulties in accessing websites because the proxy server settings have been configured.

This is occasional but this error might appear if you’re using a proxy. Disabling proxy can be vital in resolving 501 errors, here is how to disable proxy in Chrome and Safari.

How To Disable Proxy in Google Chrome
  • Open Chrome
  • Click on Kebab Menu (︙) available at the top right corner
  • Select “Settings”
  • Now, scroll down a bit and click “Advance”, after that under System, click Open your computer’s proxy settings. (Note: For Windows 7 and Windows 8 or 8.1 users, this will open the Internet Properties window)
  • Turn off Automatically Detect Settings under Automatic Proxy Setup
  • Turn off Use a proxy server as well
  • Make sure to click Save once you’ve changed the settings.

How To Disable Proxy in Safari Mac

  • In the Safari browser, click Safari, then Preferences…
  • Click the Advanced tab. Next to Proxies, select Change Settings…
  • Under the Proxies tab, uncheck any checked boxes.
  • Click OK > Apply.
How To Disable Proxy in Safari iPhone
  • On your iOS device, click Settings. Tap Wi-Fi.
  • Click on your current active Wi-Fi network.
  • Scroll down to HTTP PROXY. Click Configure Proxy.
  • Tap Off > Save.

Solution 10: Disable/Remove Chrome Extensions

Browser extensions are a wonderful way to extend the functionality of your favored browser. But bad Chrome extensions can induce much more damage than help.

Whether they use lots of system resources, trigger errors on your site, gather your data, install adware, divert your searches to spammy sites, or similar, you don’t want them on your pc.

Wait for two minutes and then refresh the site in Incognito mode. If you don’t notice any errors in Incognito mode, then it shows that an extension is driving the issue.

Go to the main window of Chrome again and click on the extension icon from the top right corner and click “Manage Extensions”

Clear all the extensions you have. Check the website, if it is functioning then come back to the chrome extension zone, and activate extensions one by one until you encounter the problematic extension.

Once you find the trouble-causing the extension, simply remove it or replace it with a different one.

Solution 11: Contact Your Host

If all the solutions shown above are unable to solve your issue, it is always better to contact your host.

They are professionals and they see these kinds of concerns every day. Contact them particularly if you’re a beginner and just starting.

You can also visit their community forum, you may find solutions there as well.

I hope this post was helpful to you!

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Sumit
Sumit

Sumit is a regular contributor to Hostinggrow.com. He has 6 years of experience in blogging, and he loves football, his favorite player is - Lionel Messi (GOAT), but he has no hate for Ronaldo.

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