If you are a user surfing the internet or the host of a respective website, then there is likely a chance for you to come across the error stating “503 service unavailable.”
On the user end, it’s best to wait cause the error is mostly because of the host. But what exactly is the 503 error? What can the user do to fix this error, and most importantly, what can the host do to prevent this error?
Normal circumstances may not be the only cause of the error, but also someone could be exploiting your website; we will discuss that too, below.
What does 503 status code mean?
After adding a particular URL, HTTP gives us a response, that could be a successful open, a redirect, or an error. The error could be further on the user end or the host’s end.
503 is a server error that is due to the hosting service being temporarily overloaded, or the website is undergoing maintenance.
However, in this case, the service provider, i.e., the website, cannot be corrupt because it is actually giving a response. It is receiving the packets but is unable to send a response back, hence displaying the unavailability of the provider.
What phrases this error is most often expressed?
Not always will you see “503 services unavailable,” the error statement could be customized by the host. The host could receive the user’s request and display a specific message. This could be done by redirecting to a particular code file incase the upload fails by the web server.
However, the following are some common statements for 503 error:
- HTTP Error 503;
- 503 Service Unavailable;
- HTTP 503;
- Error 503 Service Unavailable;
- 503 Service Temporarily Unavailable;
- 503 Error;
- HTTP Server Error 503.
How to customize 503 error?
If the internet fails to download stuff and yet uploads stuff by the user, then the custom error by the browser of the user would be displayed. However, here is how you could customize the 503 error.
First, make a 503.extension file of the respective code you are working with and then print out the statement.
For instance 503.php would go like:
header("This is 503 error");
header("please try again after (this much) time");
The first line shows that this is a 503 error, the next line shows that this is a temporary error which will be fixed after a particular time.
Next, redirect all your codes to “503.php” in case of failure.
Why would you customize 503 error?
Not everyone knows about the 503 error, telling about it would be a good thing on the developer’s end. People could think that your website is broken, hence displaying a specific message that it is under maintenance would be nice. And if you are really maintaining then, the exact time when the website would be fixed will also be great.
What is the most often cause of 503 Service Unavailable?
1. Server getting overload
From big conglomerates to small hosted companies, everyone does not have the facilities to accommodate several people at a time. The user uploads a request and then downloads the response from a particular host, but if the traffic exceeds the limit of the service provider, then it will become overloaded, eventually displaying a 503 error. The server itself is fine; it has just failed to upload a response to so many people at a single time.
2. The server is under maintenance
Another possibility could be that the provider has to update his website, so he will shut down the response for some time in order to avoid causalities; this will result in receiving a request from a user but giving a response as an error instead. However, a good provider will keep backup services in order to make updates with the main one.
3. Automatic maintenance
Sometimes management sites undergo to install automatic updates. It doesn’t take long to install these updates, so be patient.
4. Is the website compromised?
This is not usually the cause of 503 but could be an option if someone doesn’t like your website. They could perform attacks like DDOS to overload your traffic, eventually failing the server.
For instance, the hacker has control over, say, hundred’s of PC; he then requests all his bots to send multiple requests to the website all at once, eventually overloading the server. Running an anti-malware software or clearing the unusual traffic (with firewall) will be a good thing to do in order to prevent this from happening.
What should the user do if he saw such an error?
It could be quite irritating to see errors, especially when you are desperately in need of some website. The user in case of 503 cannot do much but could try the solutions below in order to self troubleshoot to fix the error.
1. Reload the website
This is the simplest solution, and you may have already tried it by now; if not the hit “Ctrl-R” or F5 in order to reload or click the refresh button next to the URL above the browser.
Remember, every time you press reload will send a request to the server, you won’t get a response, but it could cause casualties like if you are on a banking website or uploading documentation.
2. Restart your router or device
To be sure that it is not a bug causing these errors, you could restart your router and the device you are usually working on. Although restarting the device won’t be necessary, restart your browser or use another one.
3. Changing DNS
If there is a problem with your DNS, the restarting router would be the first option; if not, then change your DNS. DNS not working does not mean that every website won’t open, but it could be for a particular website. For instance, you could use google’s DNS, “18.104.22.168 or 22.214.171.124.”
Go to your wifi settings, then DNS, then change both or one.
4. Using VPN
Some websites have different servers for different countries; there could be a possibility that the website is not only working in your area; hence trying a virtual private network would suffice as a solution. You could set your own VPN our easily use service from a third company.
5. Contacting the website
Contacting the website would be a reasonable solution. You could find the contact information on the website on google. You could email or call the developers to know what the problem is and how long would it take to fix it. You will also get cleared that the problem is not on your end.
6. Check with other
Call your friend and tell him to load the same website; if he also faces 503, then it’s best to wait. Or if it is a popular website, you could search on social media platforms like Twitter, as #Website(_name) is down and see if the problem is persistent with others.
7. Be patient
Whether the website is overloaded or it is under maintenance, the best thing to do will be to wait. Trying again after some time will be a smart move cause sometimes when user’s start not to open a particular website, 503 gets fixed automatically.
What should the site owner do to fix the error?
The site being down could cause more harm to the server-side, from financial to the esteem of the website. It’s in the best interest to fix the error as soon as possible. You may try the following steps in order to improve your site.
First and foremost, create a backup of everything before making any changes. It’s better to create a full copy of all the data to a secondary server that isn’t running live. This will provide you the confidence to apply changes to anything without tension.
If you can, then the first thing to do is rebooting your server; if your program is running on multiple servers, then reboot all of them. This would most probably normalize and get your servers running again.
2. Server down somewhere
Applications not only depend upon a single server but multiples. Also, your program could be running on third-party servers if on a vast scale. There could be a possibility that somewhere, some servers won’t be working, which could have caused the “503 Service Unavailable.”
3. Automatic maintenance
Sometimes the developer might not know that his site is gone for automatic maintenance by his management system. The management systems like Wix, WordPress download, and apply updates automatically, showing 503 in that time. You can prevent this from happening by turning off automatic update settings in your management system. Just don’t forget to install them manually if you comply so.
4. Check your firewall history/settings
The firewall prevents malware from attacking your site. As discussed above, a DDOS attack sends unusual traffic to your site, the firewall blocks this by displaying errors to the attacking computers. While this may sound good but in some cases, if your firewall settings are not set correctly, then it could treat real-time packets as malware hence displaying unavailable service error to them.
Beware not to allow the wrong traffics by assuming it to be the right one.
5. Select a good automatic management tool
To avoid 503 error, it is good to have an automatic management tool looking after your page 24/7. You could select any management tools like (WordPress) , (Google Analytics), (cpanel), or any that suits your pocket. The management tool will not only fix the errors automatically but also identify you as soon as the error occurs.
How to fix 503 error on management tools like WordPress?
Websites like WordPress offer limited resources to everyone depending upon the package. If a bug or glitch is causing the error, then it will usually get fixed after some time. If not, then there must be due to your code.
Steps in order to fix 503 on WordPress (There is a chance you might be unable to open your site dashboard, then review the following steps with file transfer protocol (FTP) or file manager);
1. Checking the plugins
First, we will see if the plugins are causing the error or not. We can do that by creating a temporary folder named plugin (empty); for the time, keep your original plugins folder somewhere else or rename it!
Next, we would visit and see if the application is working. If it is, then we will check all the necessary plugins one by one. Bring back your original plugins folder and now test with each script one by one. Check your site with each hand; when 503 will occur, you will know which script was causing the error.
2. Default theme
If altering plugins did not solve the issue, then switching to the default theme might. Go to your file manager and manually move your current theme folder to a safe location. If you don’t see the default theme folder of WordPress, then easily download it and put it in your folder. Visit your website and see if it works now.
3. Last but not least
If the above two solutions did not work, then contact your WordPress hosting company; they might help you sought out the error.
Or if nothing works, then reinstall your WordPress and start with a fresh copy.
Check the website for 503 status code
Audit your website to detect whether the site has pages with 503 HTTP status code