What is a 503 Error and How to Fix It


When we browse the Internet, sometimes errors appear. Codes that tell us that something is wrong. Sometimes the problem can be with the server and on other occasions ours, the user. Today we are going to talk about error 503. We will explain what it is and how we can solve it. In case it appears, as we know, we could not navigate correctly through a Web page. A problem that sometimes comes at the worst time when we need to find specific information. 

It should be mentioned that not all visible 503 errors are the same. This is because developers can modify the appearance. We can find a fault on one page and have a different appearance from another. That is why we can see “503 Error”, “HTTP 503”, “HTTP Error 503” …

What is error 503

We must take into account what we mentioned earlier: the error is from the server, not the user. It is a service failure that indicates that a web server is not working at that time. You cannot resolve our request. This has its positive and negative side. The good thing is that we have no problem in our team. The bad thing is that, just because of that, it doesn’t depend on us to work.

Error 503 comes from that that is the HTTP status code that the server uses to name such problems. Normally, the failure is due to the server being saturated at that time. It may also happen that maintenance is being performed.

Why error 503 happens

It is important that you understand that error 503 is a security measure. For all the services of a server, there are security measures: maximum connections to an email account, maximum file upload size via web… It is logical and good that these limits exist because no server has infinite resources.

If a website were to consume resources and there was no 503, not only the web would fall but also the mail, the databases and even affect other users on a shared hosting account. And nobody wants to be affected by the misuse of server resources by a “neighbour.”

As we said above, error 503 appears when the request you have made overloads the web for some reason. The causes can be diverse and we will tell you in order of frequency, taking into account what usually resorts to Error 503 on websites:

Cause #1: Sudden peak of traffic

You have shared a post that is super resourceful, you are giving away something or the link to your website has been published on a very popular website, for examples. Congratulations! There are so many people trying to see your website at the same time that the requests are unsustainable. Your server becomes stretched and so there is no server to endure your website; this makes your site become unavailable and shows almost everyone (almost all the time, long live the intermittency we were talking about) an error 503.

Solution? Get in touch with your hosting company and surely they will do everything possible to put your website online once again so you can continue enjoying success

Note: Be very careful when the traffic peak is not sudden, but perfectly predictable. Do you sell fir trees and it’s Christmas in 15 days? Rubber crabs and the hipster festival season is approaching? People will flock to your website and you know it: plan yourself! Get in touch with your hosting provider in advance and (at least in our case) we will advise you in every way possible so that you get your website on wheels during those specific days. Once that peak has passed, you can return to your usual resources.

Cause #2: Traffic peak is caused by an attack

There are people with very bad milk who have nothing else to do but play to attack websites. Hackers would normally attack and make WordPress websites inaccessible (with error 503) by making a huge number of requests against the same vulnerable file. The simplest solution in these cases was blocking the file in question (which, however, very few people use), but each attack is different.

Solution? If it is detected that someone is attacking your website, your hosting provider must block it so that it cannot continue doing so.

Cause #3: Your project & needs have grown

Cause No. 3 is very similar to Cause No. 1, but instead of being due to a sudden and temporary problem, it is permanent. It means that your website has grown since you started, that now you have many more visits that consume the resources you subscribed for at the earliest part of your project. You need to expand your service to accommodate all those simultaneous requests.

Again, congratulations! After all, what you were probably looking for when you started the web is precisely what you have achieved: the number of visitors interested in what you have to say. You will need to invest a little more so that the project moves forward normally, but surely it does not bother you to do it because you are succeeding, right? Of course, be careful in case you are demanding too many resources, for example, because you have an exaggerated number of accounts hosted on the same shared plan. It is not wise to abuse!

Solution? As in the previous case, get in touch with your hosting provider. They will advise you on the service you need to meet your new needs.

Cause #4: Programming Issue on your website

Unfortunately, it is possible that the error 503 of your website is not directly caused by its success, or by an attack that we can easily identify from here. 503 errors in WordPress are a fairly common phenomenon, and there are parts of this application that are not as optimized as they could.

What does this mean? That WordPress is a CMS prone to cause 503 errors or very slow web loads. It is a task because today, it is the most used application in the world to create websites and, in addition, it is very comfortable! Cool right? Not at all!

Solution? Each case is a world and must be analyzed separately. However, it is recommended that WordPress users install the WP Super Cache plugin. We have verified that, without a doubt, it manages to significantly reduce the number of SQL queries that WordPress needs to perform and, therefore, your website works in a much more fluid way.

Once installed, activate caching within the plugin and set ‘Recommended’ features. That should do!

Note: You have to install this plugin in each and every one of the WordPress that you have hosted in your hosting. This is because a single poorly optimized WordPress can affect the rest of websites hosted on the same hosting plan, producing slowness in all of them.

If you have doubts and want us to try to answer them, you can leave a comment. Have you ever suffered a 503 error? Do you know what the cause was and you managed to solve it?

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