Often times you will need to shutdown a website for updating bug fixes, testing a new theme, and other common reasons. But the process on WordPress can be a hassle since you would need to redirect all the traffic onto a new default page. This can easily be handled using some open source plugins from the WP repository.
I want to present a small collection of WordPress plugins for handling downtime on your website. Each of these is open source and easy to install on any website. You can generally activate settings and themes from the backend admin panel. Using a pre-built method will save a lot of time so that you can focus on fixing the site or adjusting your changes to get back online.
Many developers are familiar with the WP Maintenance Mode plugin because it is discussed almost everywhere. This is often my go-to choice when shutting down a website for brief edits or updates to the theme. Maintenance Mode is a great choice because you can also select from a number of predetermined templates.
I would say this is one of the easiest choices to install and customize. Webmasters who are just getting the hang of WordPress may enjoy this plugin the most. It has also been in the repository for a long time, with plenty of updates and recent changes. The most current version is developed for supporting the latest 3.6 beta release. And it is common to see this plugin updated very frequently.
Using a plugin with the phrase Ultimate should make you think this is the most incredible functionality out of them all. And to an extent the features on here are amazing. You can easily setup a “down for maintenance” page and it will utilize a screenshot of your website in the background. Users who are logged into the site may still access the full display, plus the wp-admin panel.
I think Ultimate Maintenance Mode is another fantastic choice. But it can be slightly more complicated than the other alternatives. It is worth some time investing into the plugin if you want to learn how it all works. The plugin can support multisite WordPress installs if you have the requirement. Just be sure you know your way around the settings menu.
Your Inspiration Themes Maintenance Mode plugin comes as free and open source just like the others. I like their admin panel menu style for organizing the topical links. It is updated for WordPress 3.5.1 which is the most current stable release.
The WP admin menu is fantastic because it uses built-in tabs along with page links. The input fields allow you to change the page text, style, and layout. There is a lot of customization for users who really need a detailed solution. You can also select who is allowed to view the full site, ranging from Administrators to Authors and contributors.
Now this plugin is a great example of minimalism. Web developers and webmasters who are not as familiar with WordPress should definitely consider this option. Settings are great and easy to configure. It is worth using for those who need a really basic solution. There is a fully-featured advanced version which does cost money. However you can use the basic version completely free of charge for as long as you want – and the features are simple enough for anybody.
The final plugin from my list is merely titled “Maintenance”. This is easy to remember, quick to say, and provides a beautiful administration panel. You can edit a large number of popular settings which are used to shut down your website and keep the maintenance mode active. The validation system is fantastic and you can gain quick access via the user login form.
Taking care of your website maintenance is definitely tough. You will need to spend just a bit of time preparing for maintenance beforehand. This is when you should be testing out some different plugins to see what can work best for your website. Thankfully WordPress has a large collection of maintenance plugins, even some which I haven’t listed in this post. Be sure to check out the repository for yourself and see what comes up.