How to use Let’s Encrypt for SSL on your Website

by | Jan 1, 2020 | Domain Names, Technical Help, Web Hosting, WordPress

CharlesWorks uses Let’s Encrypt to provide SSL (Secure Socket Layers) for your web presence!

Note: On websites hosted after January 1, 2020, CharlesWorks automatically offers the FREE Let’s Encrypt encryption service to offer SSL certificates for sites hosted on our infrastructure. In that case you shouldn’t have to do anything.

SSL is an encryption protocol that helps guarantee you have reached the website you actually expected to reach. For instance, scammers and hackers set up phony bank or other websites to scam you. Having SSL helps raise the website visitor’s confidence he or she reached the correct site. SSL also helps ensure that information entered on a site is not read by others along the way – which can happen much more easily with an insecure connection.

How does SSL help?

From a business standpoint, SSL tremendously boosts your website’s visitor’s confidence. Having active, properly set up SSL is what allows the lock your web visitors may notice in their web browsers. When SSL is not set up correctly – or worse yet – not present, your web browser may indicate “Not Secure” or even warn you against entering information on an insecure web page. Site visitors will be less apt to do business with you.

Who has SSL installed?

All of CharlesWorks hosting plans for our WordPress and Joomla sites on our Linux servers have allowed Let’s Encrypt SSL at no additional ongoing charge since 2015. We have automatically installed SSL with all websites currently developed and hosted on our infrastructure since 2019. Some of the few exceptions may be if a website was moved to CharlesWorks. If it was moved from a provider who did not previously provide SSL and the website was not SSL ready it would not have been installed to prevent “breaking” the site..

If your website is hosted at CharlesWorks and you do NOT have SSL installed, please contact us and we can let you know what is involved in the process of adding it.

What’s it cost to turn on SSL?

As we have indicated – there is no ongoing cost to use the FREE SSL provided through Let’s Encrypt!

That being said, it takes some one-time labor time to install it to a preexisting non-SSL site should you ask us to do so. Pricing varies according to the time it takes to convert the website to being SSL ready. Since we charge for webwork labor by the minute, it might be a very low cost.

Just adding the SSL certificate usually only takes a few minutes. However, the process of ensuring there is no mixed content and that everything is served through https can take over an hour or even more at times. With most of our WordPress websites we can get it done in less than 20 minutes. That’s “most” not “all”! For instance, sometimes sliders and other portfolios showing numerous pictures can be time consuming to convert. We’ll be glad to look at the site and try to give you an idea.

What if I “break” my SSL?

Usually, you don’t actually “break” your SSL. However, you might make changes to your website that introduce what are called “mixed content” errors. When that happens, the “lock” that shows in your browser may go away or, depending on what browser you are using, you may be notified the page is not secure – especially if there is a form on the page.

On a secure page, ALL content must come from a secure source. Usually this issue happens when graphics or other medium is shown on a page whose source is from an HTTP instead of HTTPS source. If this is the case, you can go to Step 5 below and troubleshoot what you may have done. Or you can contact us and we will troubleshoot it for you at our reasonable rate as described above under “What’s it cost to turn on SSL?”.

Can I turn on Let’s Encrypt myself?

You sure can! You can certainly do the entire process yourself. Here are the steps:

Step 1
Log into your domain’s DirectAdmin account

  • Use your username and password.

Note: If you do not have that information, please contact us and we will be pleased to provide it.

Step 2
Navigate to SSL Certificates

  • On the main DirectAdmin control panel page under Advanced Features click on SSL Certificates.

Note: If you have been hosting with CharlesWorks for a very long time, there might be no SSL Certificates choice/link under Advanced Features. In such a case, please contact us and we will turn that on at no charge.

Step 3
Turn on Let’s Encrypt

  • You should now be on the DirectAdmin control panel’s SSL page.
  • In the left-most column under SSL Certificates click the middle radio button.
  • Then click the button in front of Free & automatic certificate fromĀ Let’s Encrypt.
  • Then click on the Save button.
  • You should now be taken to a status page if it was successful.

Note: If it was not successful, you should contact CharlesWorks for support.

Step 4
Force SSL

  • Click on the Home icon in the top navigation bar.
  • Once again under Advanced Features click on SSL Certificates.
  • Now you should see your certificate info on the page.
  • Near the top of the page, click on the bolded “here” in “You can disable it here.”
  • Make sure Secure SSL is checked (it should already be checked).
  • Under “private_html setup for …” make sure “Use a symbolic …” and “Force SSL …” are checked.
  • Click on the Save button.

Note: You can exit DirectAdmin as that should be it for the DirectAdmin settings.

Step 5
Check for SSL errors

  • Now you will need to go into the website and ensure everything is being served properly.
  • Charles’s favorite tool for checking for https errors is at Why No Padlock? located here:

Note: Why No Padlock? will tell you where the “mixed content” errors exist on any page in your website you tell it to scan.

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