How do I temporarily disable my website?

Customers occasionally ask how they can temporarily disable their website, for legal or other reasons.

If you want all visitors to your site to be temporarily redirected to a different site, you don’t need to modify your site; you can simply add a redirect.

If you don’t want to redirect people to a different site, the rest of this page explains what to do.

Disabling your site if you’re using WordPress

If you’re using WordPress, a plugin called Maintenance can show visitors a custom or blank page, while still allowing you to edit and test the site:

  1. Login to your WordPress dashboard
  2. Click Plugins in the left-hand-column
  3. Click Add New at the top of the screen
  4. In the “Search Plugins” box, type Maintenance and press enter
  5. Make sure you’ve found the plugin called simply “Maintenance”, by author “fruitfulcode”
  6. Click Install Now
  7. Click Activate Plugin

Your dashboard will then show the words “Maintenance is On” along the top, letting you know that normal visitors see only a generic page saying something like “Maintenance mode is on: Website will be available soon”. You can modify that text or disable it by clicking the “Maintenance is On” text along the top.

(If you want to redirect visitors to another site instead of showing text, try a different plugin called CGC Maintenance Mode.)

What if I’m not using WordPress?

The instructions below explain how to do this if you’re comfortable editing files on your site. However, if you’re a hosting customer of ours, we’ll be glad to do this for you at no charge: just contact us and we’ll take care of it within one business day.

For non-WordPress sites, you can add the following two lines to a .htaccess file in the directory you want to disable (or at the top level of your site if you want to disable all of it):

Redirect 503 /
ErrorDocument 503 "This website is temporarily unavailable."

You can make the “ErrorDocument” text be any single line you wish. If you prefer a blank white page, use a single space as the error:

Redirect 503 /
ErrorDocument 503 " "

What if I want to be able to see the site myself, but block other people?

If you’re using WordPress, the Maintenance plugin described above does exactly this.

If you’re not using WordPress, the simplest solution is to password protect your site with a password only you know.