Setup Free SSL with Let's Encrypt
The Manual Method
To get this process started, we will begin by downloading a handy plugin called ‘Let’s Encrypt’ found here: https://en-gb.wordpress.org/plugins/wp-encrypt/
With ‘Let’s Encrypt’, you will be able to quickly set up a free account and create SSL certificates, which you’ll then be able to upload onto your server.
- To begin, head over to your Wordpress dashboard under Plugins >> Add New >> Upload Plugin.
- Locate the plugin you downloaded onto your computer and click the ‘Install Now’ button.
- Once installed, go ahead and activate the plugin.
- Next, head over to Settings >> WP Encrypt to view the plugin’s main dashboard.
- Fill in your Account Settings using the fields provided.
- Ensure that ‘Auto-generate Certificate’ and ‘Expire Warnings’ are ticked, then save the changes.
- After saving the settings, a new option will appear to register your account. Click the blue ‘Register Account’ button.
- When registered, you will see a registered date of when your SSL certificates were created with the option to revoke access.
- By this point, you should now see a list of all of your certificates and keys generated along with their locations.
- Depending on the level of access you have on your server, you will have two options with uploading your certificates.
Option #1 - Editing Your Apache Config Files
If you’re able to have direct access to your server’s configuration. You’ll simply need to edit a file so that it points to your certificate and keys as per the screenshot above.
You can see the full instructions by clicking on the ‘Help’ button on the top-right of the menu, then selecting ‘Setting up SSL’ which will expand with more details.
- Once you’re done, your SSL should now be setup and will automatically renew.
Please Note: You can edit your config file by contacting your hosting provider to do this for you.
Option #2 - Using CPanel
This option will require a few extra processes in order to get set up.
- Firstly, head over to the install locations of where your certificates are stored on your server as listed. You can do this using FTP or by going into the ‘File Manager’ inside your CPanel account.
- Once you’ve located the files. Download them all onto your local computer.
- Next, go back to your CPanel dashboard and locate the option called ‘SSL/TLS Manager.’
Please Note: If you’re unable to find it, please contact your hosting provider.
- Once inside the SSL Manager, you will be shown a list of options. Firstly, click on the ‘Private Keys (Key)' link to take you to the upload area.
- Next, click the ‘Upload A Private Key’ button. You will be shown an area with a list of options. Scroll down until you see the option to select from a file.
- Click the ‘Choose File’ button and locate the downloaded file called ‘private.pem’.
- Once selected, click the ‘Upload’ button. If successful, you will receive a message to say your certificate has been saved.
- Head back over to SSL Manager. We are now going to repeat the process by uploading the ‘Certificates (CRT)’. Click on this option, select the file called ‘cert.pem’, then again, click the ‘Upload’ button.
- The final process is to once again, head back to the SSL Manager and select the ‘Install and Manage SSL for your site (HTTPS)’ option.
- Next, select your site from the listings in a drop-down menu and click on the ‘Autofill by Domain’ button. CPanel will then fill out all of the details for you. All you're now left to do is to simply click on the ‘Install Certificate’ button to confirm the installation.
You’re not done with installing SSL on your website.
Please Note: If you’ve chosen Option #2, you may be required to re-download your certificates after the 90-day expiration period and go through the process again of uploading them manually by following the process we’ve just covered.
Really Simple SSL
The final step is to install another free plugin, which will handle all of the HTTP and HTTPS on the fly.
This is ideal if you already have a website with internal links, images, and other useful content, and will auto-change and re-establish the references as each page loads.
To access the plugin, please go here: https://wordpress.org/plugins/really-simple-ssl/
- Install and activate the plugin as required, then go to the plugin settings. By default, the plugin will automatically detect the certificate that was previously installed. All you simply need to do here is click on the blue ‘Go ahead, activate SSL’ button.
And that’s it! You have now successfully installed SSL on your website.
Go ahead and test it by loading your homepage on your address bar. You should now see a green HTTPS protocol listed.
Option #3 - CPanel Let’s Encrypt (Shortcut)
What we’ve covered so far is how to do this all manually. As mentioned earlier, you may not be required to do this due to your hosting provider having SSL built into their website installations.
One further way to check for this is to head back to your CPanel and check for the ‘Let’s Encrypt’ software. If it’s available, you should see it listed and will make your life of installing SSL a heck of a lot easier.
- Click on it to get to the ‘Let’s Encrypt’ settings area. You will see a list of all of your websites currently installed on your server.
All you have to do is ensure that both the ‘HTTPS Enforce’ and ‘External Links Rewrite’ options are set to ‘On.’
Once done, that’s all you’ll be required to do. Your server will automatically enforce SSL and renew all of your certificates in the background.