One of the few very frustrating errors you ever encounter while using WordPress is the 503 Service Unavailable Error.
This error can be quite confusing for most WordPress users as it can render your website completely offline without giving you any apparent reason for the error.
There can be some different reasons behind 503 Service Unavailable WordPress Error and it can also appear in different error codes.
What Is 503 Service Unavailable Error?
503 Service Unavailable Error is often caused by outdated and malfunctioning plugins and themes. The problem occurs when your website server has trouble receiving the response from the PHP script. Which is usually caused by outdated or poorly coded scripts in themes and plugins.
However, in some cases, it may also be caused by excessive server resource usage. Or when there is a glitch on the server used to host your website. Also when too many requests are being handled by the server at the same time, which is common with cheap web hosts that try to host too many websites on a shared hosting server.
How to Fix 503 Service Unavailable Error
Your website’s server may be the cause of the 503 Service Unavailable Error. But, before you jump to conclusions and start blaming your webhosting provider, it is best to make sure that it is not due to a faulty plugin or theme.
There are two strategies to troubleshoot this issue: deactivating all plugins and disabling your current theme. But, how are you going to do that, when you can’t even access your WordPress admin dashboard?
Thankfully, you can still safely disable your plugins and themes from the server without losing logins or any data on your WordPress website.
1. Manually Disable All WordPress Plugins
To find out if this error is caused by a plugin, we have to manually disable all the plugins. You can manually disable all plugins from the server-side by simply renaming the WordPress plugins folder.
Step 1: Login to your server
First of all, we need to go to your hosting server to find all the WordPress files related to your website.
You can either access your server using the web-based CPanel file manager or use an FTP client like FileZilla. For example, we will use the CPanel file manager because it is accessible to everyone.
To open your server CPanel, type /cpanel at the end of your domain name (example: yourwebsite.com/cpanel)
Enter your CPanel username and password to login
Find the File Manager app and open the public_html folder
Step 2: Rename The Plugins Folder
To disable plugins, all you need to do is change the name of your default plugins folder.
- Open WP-Content folder
- Find the plugins folder and rename it to Old-Plugins
- Create a new empty folder and name it Plugins In
Now, try loading your website and see if this fixes the problem.
Step 3: Find Faulty or Corrupt Plugin
If your website is working and back to normal, then the error was caused by a faulty plugin. Let’s find out which plugin caused the problem.
- Go back to WP-Content folder
- Delete the empty Plugins folder you just created
- Change the old Old-Plugins folder to its original state in Plugins Only
This will install all the plugins already present on your website. But don’t worry, not all those plugins will be disabled.
Now login to your WordPress Admin Dashboard and reactivate your plugins, one by one until you find which plugin is causing the problem.
2. Change The Default Website Theme
If disabling plugins doesn’t fix the error, it’s likely caused by a bad script on your WordPress theme. Let’s try disabling our default theme.
Step 1: Login to your server
Simply follow the same instructions we have provided in the previous method to login to your server using the FTP client app or cPanel.
Step 2: Delete the Default Theme – Replace the current running theme with the
one causing the error. Once you are on the server, locate the Themes folder.
- Go to the WP-Contents folder and open the Themes folder.
- First, make a backup copy of your default theme or better yet, download it to your computer.
- Now go ahead and delete the folder related to your default theme
This will force WordPress to revert your website to use a native WordPress theme like TwentyNineteen.
Once this is done, check to see if your website works. If this works, there is something wrong with your theme. Contact the theme developer and ask them to fix the problem.
Is the error still occurring?
If you are still seeing the same 503 Service Unavailable error after following the steps mentioned above, then you should seek developer help. Your website may also be at risk of a DDoS attack.
Sometimes, reinstalling WordPress can fix the problem. But, don’t try to do it yourself because one mistake can completely erase all the data on your website. Get a WordPress developer to help you.
Get in touch with your website hosting provider and ask their technical support team to check your website to see what’s going on. Depending on how great the web hosting service you use is, they may be able to help you fix the problem within a few minutes.