How to Add a Free SSL Certificate to your Website Using ZeroSSL — Patrick Fluke

Greetings folks, and welcome to another tutorial! If you have any real estate up in the interwebs, you’ve likely heard of, or you really should have heard of protecting your visitors with an SSL certificate. This certificate authenticates traffic from your website so that your visitors can be sure that it has not been hijacked. This is obviously to the benefit of anyone visiting your site. Will help your visitors put more trust in your site, not to mention the crawlers from Google and the various other search engines. It could mean more traffic!

Many hosting providers offer to set this up for you for a fee, and if you would prefer to go this route, that is entirely okay, but if you’d like to do it yourself for free, and your hosting provider allows this, follow along with us as we set it up!

For this tutorial, we will be using ZeroSSL.com . There are other providers, but this is the one that I have come to enjoy most. This website will allow you to create your SSL certificate, and register it with LetsEncrypt.org. Once your certificate is installed, and registered with LetsEncrypt.org, you’re ready to go.

Now before we begin to add an SSL certificate, you may need to check with your hosting provider to find out if you can (or if you have to) install an SSL certificate manually. I’m under the impression that most will allow you to do so, but just in case, check this list of LetsEncrypt compatible hosting services. This tutorial is written assuming you don’t have shell access to your website. If you do, perhaps another tutorial is in order.

  1. Go to ZeroSSL.com and click “Online Tools.”
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2. Next, you will be brought to the Free SSL Certificate Wizard. Click Start.

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3. Next, you will be presented with the following page. On this page, there are three steps. First, you will enter all of the domains you wish to protect with this SSL certificate. Don’t worry, you can make more!

I start with PatrickFluke.com, www.PatrickFluke.com, and mail.PatrickFluke.com. Once you’ve entered your domains, read and then accept the terms of service for ZeroSSL and Let’s Encrypt SA, and then click ‘Next.’

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4. This will generate your CSR or Certificate Signing Request. Once you’ve done this, I recommend downloading the certificate, but you could also just copy the contents. Once you’ve downloaded or copied the contents, click ‘Next.’

5. You will have now generated your account key. Download or copy this file as well. Select HTTP verification, and click ‘Next.’

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6. You will now be taken to the HTTP verification screen. You could also use DNS verification, but then you would have to wait for the DNS to be refreshed which can take a few minutes. HTTP’s verification is quicker in my opinion. Download the files that are displayed on this next screen, and then upload them.

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7. You now have the two files that you must upload to your website. You will upload them to the following location:

(Web Root)/.well-known/acme-challenge/

The webroot is the base folder for your website, and likely contains your index.html (or variation).

It is important to note that once uploaded (or before if you’re more on the ball than me), make sure to remove the .txt extension from these files, otherwise, the HTML verification will fail.

Once the files are in place, click ‘Next.’

8. Assuming that ZeroSSL.com can locate these new files, you will now be presented with your new SSL Certificate! Yay!

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9. The steps from here on out vary depending on your hosting provider. A great place to check would be the list of hosting providers from earlier which often links to help topics on how to install it on the different providers.

The basic steps are that you will now upload your account-key. (Remember to change the extension to .key), your certificate (remember to change the extension to .crt), and your domain key. Once completed, you will install the certificate, and your website will have its transmissions protected! You were successfully able to add an SSL certificate to your website!

Have any questions? Comments? Want a further explanation? Let me know!

Originally published at https://patrickfluke.com on September 14, 2019.

Written by

Freelance Writer and Programmer. https://PatrickFluke.com

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