Thanks to the 5.2 updates to WordPress, the good old maintenance screen for WordPress is gone. Now we have “The site is experiencing technical difficulties.” screen. So what does it mean? Well, frequently, it means “wait 5 minutes”.

The two new messages are:

  • The site is experiencing technical difficulties. (for trying to access public facing pages)
  • The site is experiencing technical difficulties. Please check your site admin email inbox for instructions. (for trying to access wp-admin pages)

In the past, WordPress would say “Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance. Check back in a minute.” which was a very useful message to give. It told both the site admin and visitors what was going on — maintenance.

This new message is FAR less helpful, and it gets thrown for just about everything. Maintenance, updating plugins or themes, it’s just throwing this new message.

Most likely answer for experiencing technical difficulties

The most likely answer is that you are running a theme or plugin update. This could be via the WP dashboard, a third-party tool such as MainWP or ManageWP, or you are doing some updates via FTP. Any of those will throw this error until the update is done.

The next most likely answer is that there is a server process running from your hosting company which needs to finish.

The answer for both of these is to just wait 5 minutes for the process to complete.

Other possible issues

So if the waiting 5 minutes didn’t work, then it’s probably something else. Anything in WordPress which is throwing a fatal error will be reported with this new message.

The best way to find out the issue is to turn on your WP debug and see what it says for errors or check your PHP error logs. If turning on your WP debug or reading PHP logs sounds terrifying, then you need to contact your hosting company or your developer for assistance.

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