Plagued by the 503 HTTP error? Here is how to fix the 503 Service Unavailable Error in WordPress.

The HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP) 503 Service Unavailable server error response code, like any of its variations indicates that the server is not ready to handle the request.

Depending on the host and or the web server of your website, the 503 Service Unavailable displayed by a browser can take any one of these variations;

  • 503 Service Temporarily Unavailable
  • HTTP Server Error 503
  • 503 Error
  • Http/1.1 Service Unavailable
  • Service Unavailable – DNS Failure
  • HTTP 503
  • HTTP Error 503

Whatever error you see, the server is not able to handle the request.

On the server side, the error is typical of heavy usage or a maintenance exercise by your host.

If no unknown underlying issues are causing the overloading and hogging the server resources, then the error is only temporal.

That should give you an idea of how to troubleshoot the error.

How to Troubleshoot The 503 Service Unavailable Error

Client-side issues

Communication starts from a client’s browser to a server. It is then only logical to begin by troubleshooting client related issues.

  1. Since this error is often temporary, the first thing you can do is refresh the page, if it does not load, wait for a minute or two then try again.
  2. Clear the cache/history and cookies of your browser.  If you accessed the website when it was off, it is possible that your browser saved a copy of the page with the error message. Clearing cache may resolve that.
  3. If you are behind a router or internet getaway that maintains some caching or as with most network errors, restarting the router and every other device on the network may fix the issue.

Server-side issues

If the first client-side attempts do not fix the 503 Service Unavailable Error, then we can try looking into the server.

  1. Check if the server is responsive. You can start by accessing the website outside your local network, on a different computer or even on a different browser.

If you know of any websites hosted on the same server as yours, try accessing them.

A ping to check the connectivity to the server may also be appropriate. However, in this case, check that the IP address is not that of a CDN – in case you are using one.

If you can not connect to your server, then it is time to enlist the services of your host.

  1. Troubleshoot your website.

If you can verify connectivity to your server, then a troubled WordPress website may be the issue. If that is the case, you will need to check;

  • If the core WordPress files are not corrupt. Replacing the files will fix the problem.
  • Next, you can check the theme and the plugins. For the theme, activate one of the default WordPress themes.

In the case of plugins, disable all the plugins. Reload the website. If it is loading fine, then we have a plugin issue. Enable one plugin after another to isolate the trouble causer.

However, that will only happen if you were wise enough to keep one.

If you never had one, I hope this experience will teach you to start keeping one; you can never know when a backup will save you. That’s also why we have created WPvivid Backup Backup plugin.

  1. Contact your host’s support.

The first thing on troubleshooting server issues I mentioned is checking if your server is responsive.

However, the reality is that if you do not have access to the physical server or server administration knowledge, there is just that much you can do.

Besides, there are issues like bandwidth that may be out of your domain.

The best people to troubleshoot a persistent 503 Service Unavailable Error is the host.

Unless you are dealing with a scrupulous host, they will be glad to help troubleshoot any server or bandwidth related issues.


For typical users, the 503 services unavailable error is just an overloaded server that will come back to normality.

A simple refresh of the website may fix the issues.

In an extreme case, however, the tech stuff from your host will resolve the issues related to the misbehaving server.

Most importantly, servers fail. Errors happen, start keeping a backup.

Hopefully you found the read helpful, you may also want to learn how to fix the 403 forbidden error in WordPress.