503 Error in WordPress : What It Means and How to Fix It

503 Error in WordPress : What It Means and How to Fix It

WordPress is widely known to all types of possible “web builder” users. Who wants to have great results, is the best choice to create a website with WordPress.

If this content manager is characterized by something, its ease of use, its good performance, and its simple interface.

If WordPress is also characterized by something, it is how frustrating or intimidating it can be to detect an error (server or any other type) and not even know where to start looking for it, to fix it (and the vast majority of times neither know how to fix it).

I believe that it is normal for this to happen (that any error in WordPress becomes so difficult for us) because the average user of this platform has average knowledge pulling too low.

However, the good news is that there is a large community of support for WordPress, and as soon as you do a little search on Google, you will immediately find answers to the questions you have.

This article is a clear example of this if you have come here looking for “how to fix 503 error in WordPress“, for example.

Keep reading because at the end of the article you will be able to understand what it is, how to solve it, and how to avoid a frustrating 503 error in the future.

Let’s started!

What is the 503 Error?

The 503 error is itself a temporary server error. It is not directly related to WordPress (but some files in WordPress may be the one that causes it).

That is, the 503 error can occur for many reasons, and therefore it is quite difficult to reproduce, but, being methodical and organized, quite simple to solve.

It is one of the most common types of HTTP errors. WordPress 503 service error occurs when trying to access a website and the server is temporarily unavailable (we will see the possible causes below).

As I said, 503 error is a “temporary” error, which acts as a security measure for the server itself (to protect it on a technical level).

Hence, one of the solutions that I can tell you about is to have a powerful, reliable, and quality server.

How to Find a 503 Error in WordPress?

Right off the bat, there isn’t a lot of information to help us spot and fix the 503 error.

When it occurs, it warns with an error message, which may vary depending on the configuration that exists on your server.

These messages can be:

  • WordPress 503 service unavailable
  • http / 1.1 Service Unavailable
  • HTTP Server Error 503
  • 503 Error
  • HTTP 503
  • HTTP Error 503

Then we go into more in the matter, and we see the possible causes of the 503 error and how to solve them.

Causes of a 503 Error

As I mentioned at the beginning of the article, the 503 error can appear for many possible causes.

Hence, as we will see in the steps to solve it, the most sensible thing to do is to “check” the most common places where this error could be found, and if that does not work, contact the technical support of our hosting.

Something Punctual

If the 503 error screen has appeared once or twice over a fairly long period of time, I wouldn’t give it more importance.

In that case, it is a “peak” of work on your server, and just at that moment it could not “answer” your call and show you the web.

It would not be worthwhile in this situation to try to see what causes the error, because everything would indicate that it was the server itself that was “busy” very occasionally.

Some Clunky Plugin

If the 503 error is caused by some specific place in WordPress, almost 99% I’d say the best place to look is in the plugins folder.

There is always some plugin of dubious origin, or simply “old” that when activated, disrupts the entire web and breaks it temporarily.

As we will see below, seeing if the culprit of all our problems is a plugin, it is relatively simple using an FTP manager.

A Monster Template

It may also be that the cause of the 503 error is that we are using a template (or theme in English) that has a poorly written line of code and causes the problem.

This is usually less common, but it would be convenient to see if we can find a solution when changing templates (we also see it in the solutions section below).

I call monster templates all those templates that are sold in “Themeforest” and similar Themes markets, which seek to sell all possible copies, based on “injecting” many extra elements into the template itself (sliders, page builders, etc.) in such a way that you have to marry the template since you will never be able to separate yourself from it, as it has become the unstable backbone of your website.

Relying 100% on a theme is a very bad practice when it comes to web creation in WordPress, and don’t be surprised that the monster template is the cause of the 503 error if you are using one.

Some Custom Code or Script

There are times that for whatever reason you have to enter a custom script somewhere on our website.

If what is being done is not well understood, it is possible that this code is interfering with the correct loading of our WordPress, and therefore causing the 503 error.

This may be the most complex way to find the cause of error 305 in WordPress, we will see an easy solution to find it in the next section.

Direct Server Problem

There are several factors that can cause a 503 error directly on the server, without WordPress having anything to do with it.

For example, it can happen that you may suffer a DDoS attack on your website; This is something that makes thousands of “bots” visit your website at the same time, and make the 503 error appear so unwanted.

The quality of the server you have and the level of uptime (online time) that exists can also influence. Today the vast majority of servers have an uptime of more than 98%, so it should not be the main reason for concern.

If you have chosen a poor server, or even free (there are!), You already know which may be the first place to look.

You May Also Read: 8 Common Errors You Should Know Available in WordPress

How to Troubleshoot a 503 Error in WordPress?

We are now going to move on to the most desired part of this article: the solutions.

Below I describe the steps you should follow to, by probability, find the error more quickly and effectively.

Also, the good thing is that you don’t need to have any prior technical knowledge, just know how to use an FTP program such as FileZilla.

Step 1: Disable Plugins and Find the Culprit

Access the folder where you have your WordPress installed by FTP.


Go to the wp-content folder and inside you will see another one called plugins.

Rename the plugin folder (for example add an underscore at the beginning).

If your website is seen, congratulations! the problem lies in a plugin. As now they are all deactivated, go activating one by one, and as you activate, check the web in another tab.

When you activate a specific plugin, which causes the 503 error, you will already have the culprit and you can take care of it.

You decide if you can do without this plugin, or directly if you have to send a support ticket to whoever created it so that they can give you some explanation or a possible alternative solution.

In all my years with WordPress, I estimate that no more than 10 times I will have encountered a 503 error, and most of the time the culprit was a plugin.

In fact, I think there is more business need in WordPress when it comes to troubleshooting ready-made websites than creating new websites from scratch.

Step 2: Disable the Used Template and Go to the Default

This method is very similar to the previous one, but instead of going to the plugins folder in the FTP, go to the themes folder.

Once inside, if you have not deleted them, you will see the folders of the themes that come by default in WordPress, and the folder of the template you are using.

For example, if you use the arch-well-known, but the arch-bad template called “Avada”, you will find a folder with its name.

Delete or deactivate it by renaming it, and WordPress will “automatically” activate a default template.

Visit your website, and if you see it, you will already have your culprit.

This solution is “less frequent”, but the possibilities are exponential if you use one of the above-mentioned monster templates.

To avoid making this mistake, know the templates with the best page builders for WordPress that will surely not generate these problems.

Step 3: Enable a Specific Function in wp-config.php

This third option to find the cause of the 503 error is the most technical.

It is the one you have to follow if you are sure that you have put some type of “own code” somewhere on the web, be it in a file of a plugin, a theme, or a custom post type or WordPress widget.

Here you will have to “touch a little code” (but very little), and where it is done is in wp-config.php.


Once you open said file with a text editor or code editor, simply copy where you see in the following screenshot, this line of code:

@ini_set ('display_errors', 1);


Once pasted, go to your website, and in theory, you should see information similar to the one I show you in this example.


Notice the part that is in bold. It will give you the necessary information to know the path where exactly the file that is preventing the loading of WordPress on your server is located.

All you have to do is go to that file on your FTP and correct it correctly.


As you have seen throughout this article, the 503 error can seem intimidating at first (nobody likes to see their website without loading), but now you feel much more confident (you may even feel like the most technical hackers).

Follow the steps that I have described and there are many possibilities to find the “culprit” file and be able to solve the problem.

Anyway, remember that good WordPress hosting always has a great team of professionals behind it, who will help you solve any error that occurs on your website.

I hope this article has been useful to you, and see you in the next one!

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