In this article we have given an exclusive guide on how to install Lets encrypt Certificate on your domain. Use the table of content below to navigate to any section of the article you prefer. Lets get started
WHAT IS SSL
Secure Socket Layer (SSL) is a standard security technology for establishing an encrypted link between a web server and a browser. This link ensures that all data passed between the web server and browsers are private and secured. SSL is used by millions of websites currently.
WHAT IS LET’S ENCRYPT
Let’s Encrypt is a free, automated, and open certificate authority provide by Internet Security Research Group (ISRG). It was formed in April 2016 to provide free digital certificate to website owners in order to enable HTTPS(SSL/TLS). It is secured regardless of the fact that it’s free. Over 60 million Actively Registered Domains have lets encrypt installed.
BENEFITS OF SSL
Few benefits of using HTTPS are:
- Boost Search Engine Rankings (Google currently uses HTTPS as a ranking signal)
- Secure online transactions
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Let’s Encrypt can be installed via your web server’s cPanel. To successfully install the Let’s Encrypt SSL, you need to ensure that your DNS is pointed to your hosting account. It can both be installed on a shared hosting and a virtual private server or a dedicated server. Some hosting companies enables clients to easily install Let’s Encrypt SSL by integrating it directly into their cPanel.
In this article we are going to use the services of SSL FOR FREE to acquire a Let’s Encrypt SSL Certificate, install, verify, maintain and update it. You may as well be able to install via the command line (mostly for virtual private servers). Unfortunately, that is beyond the scope of this article.
Before you install an SSL Certificate or enable HTTPS on your website, you need or need to do the following
- A certificate from a Certificate Authority (CA). Let’s Encrypt is a CA
- Demonstrate total ownership of your domain
Acquiring the certificate
There are lots of tutorials online that shows how to install ssl certificate for free. As said earlier we’ll use obtain the certificate using SSL FOR FREE. Once gotten, we proceed to installing using cPanel
- Visit SSL FOR FREE website –> https://www.sslforfree.com
- Type your domain address (Example mydomain.com) into the “enter your website to secure”.
- You’re provided with SSL certificates for mydoman.com and www.mydomain.com automatically.
Now you need to verify that you are the rightful owner of the domain you entered (mydomain.com). Verification can be done through your web server. This prevents other people from getting SSL certificate for your domain.
There are there ways to verify your domain with SSL FOR FREE. We will walk you through only the first two methods. You can skip to “Installing Certificate” if any of the methods works for you.
- The first method is via Automatic FTP Verification. Here you need to enter FTP information to verify your domain automatically
- The second method is via Manual Verification. You’ll be asked to download two files which you have to upload to your web server for manual verification
- The last is through Manual Verification (DNS). You’ll be prompted to create and add a TXT records to your DNS server
First Method: Automatic FTP Verification
- Click the Automatic FTP Verification button
- Input your web server FTP account information in the form that shows below.
- Click on “Download Free SSL Certificate” button.
- You’ll be taken to the “Loading SSL Certificate Account page” and proceed to the “Generating SSL Certificate Securely” page
- Scroll to the bottom and Click on “Download all Certificate Files” button to download.
If this method worked for you skip to Installing the certificate
NB: You are giving access to your server files if you give FTP account details to someone. You can opt for other methods of verification if you feel insecure.
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Second Method: Manual Verification
- Click on “Manual Verification” button.
- Click on “Manually Verify Domain“.
- SSL FOR FREE will generate two files. Download both files and save them onto your computer
- Login to your cPanel account, create a new folder in your domain root directory and name it “.well-known“. NB: if you are in a windows environment you have to add a dot at the end of the folder name (. well-known.)
- Create another folder inside the “.well-known” directory and name it “acme-challenge“
- Upload previously download files to the “acme-challenge folder“
- You need to click on the two links provided by SSL For Free to verify successful upload
A random alphanumeric characters will show. If otherwise, then recheck that you are uploading in the correct place.
- Now go back to the previous tab and click “Download SSL Certificate“.
- You’ll be taken to the “Loading SSL Certificate” Account page and proceed to the “Generating SSL Certificate Securely” page
Once your SSL certificate is successfully generated, You’ll be asked to input your email address and password to receive email notification one week before certificate expiration.
You’ll be shown details for the Certificate, Private Key and CA Bundle for your domain (mydomain.com). Download the certificate to your local computer.
Installing the certificate
Once you have downloaded the SSL certificate earlier, note that the installation is straightforward and quick regardless. Follow the steps below to install you newly acquired SSL certificate
- Login to your cPanel and go to “SSL/TLS manager“
- Click on “Manage SSL sites“
- Scroll to the bottom and click on “select a Domain”
A list of all your domain names will drop down.
- Select the domain you want to install the certificate on
- Open the Certificate files you downloaded earlier in any text editor (Notepad is recommended). Copy and paste their details into their respective fields.NB: Ensure all contents of each files are copied and pasted.
- When you’re sure all the above have been done correctly proceed by clicking on the “Install Certificate” button at the bottom of the page.
Hurrayyyy. You have successfully installed your SSL certificate
Verifying Successful Installation
To confirm that your SSL certificate is installed correctly, we’re going to use Namecheap SSL Checker.
Visit the URL: https://decoder.link/sslchecker/
Enter your domain name into the space provide and hit “Enter”
You should get a results like this if certificate has been installed successfully
Let’s Encrypt SSL certificates can only last for a 90-day period. You need to renew it before it expires.
I am glad you’ve been able to follow the tutorial to the end. You can now install Let’s encrypt SSL on any other domain you own. We admit we can make a mistake along the way. We’ve provided a comment box for that, otherwise give us a thumbs up and follow us on all social media @pcbossonline. See you in our next tutorial. We love you.