I've recently started using an .htaccess files when I'm updating clients domains with updates. I do this with the 503 error handler to let the search engines know that the site is just temporarily down and that it will be back soon. I guess I also do it so that visitors to the site know that the site is down. I've recently learned that it's possible to have a custom 503 error page just like a custom 404 page which is cool!
But my real question is what is the best way to go about "activating" maintenance mode on a domain?
Currently I've got two .htaccess files. One is the normal everyday one, has some https rules on it and some other stuff. The other .htaccess file I have stored on the server as .htaccess_upgrade. When I want to put the domain into maintenance mode I take the normal .htaccess file and rename it to .htaccess_normal and then I remove the upgrade text from the .htaccessupgrade file. I don't have a problem doing this, it just seems slow and cumbersome.
I know that it's also possible to do 503 errors with PHP but I'm still not sure how I could make this simpler, like just click a button to turn maintenance mode on or off.
So, basically I'm just looking for theories or suggestions or examples that have worked for you in the past.
Hope to hear from you pros soon!