This guide is for the absolute beginners to install a free SSL Certificate by Let’s Encrypt. You do need to write any code to install the Free SSL Certificate. Just follow the steps as described below to get your FREE SSL CERTIFICATE.
Let’s Encrypt provides an absolutely free and open-source SSL certificate. You can use it for your website, no matter where your website is hosted and on which programming language the codes are written.
If your website is on WordPress you can also get the free SSL certificate for your WordPress website.
You need to visit the website https://www.sslforfree.com/, this website will do everything for you. And you need to have access to the login to your website host.
How to Get your FREE SSL certificate | The absolute beginner’s guide.
Enter your domain name and click on the Create Free SSL Certificate. It will automatically check your website and will also add the www version for the domain.
Every domain have two version one is with www and another is without the www. So you should install the SSL certificate for both the www and non-www versions.
It will create the SSL Certificate also for the www version of the domain as I mentioned above. Now it is the time for verification. It has three types of verification. But choose the Manual verification, because it is safer. You do not need to provide any login details to this website or do not need to change any code.
Just click on the Manual Verification and click on the Manually Verify Domain below.
It will create two verification files for your domain, which you need to upload to the website host.
Download the Verification Files
Download the verification files one by one and save these.
Now it is time to upload the files to the host folder. The files are created by this website automatically. If you opted for the SSL install by the Let’s Encrypt commands the same files would be created under the root folder of the host. For that, you have to go through some coding processes.
This website does the coding part for you.
Upload the verification files
Log in to the host where the website is hosted. Go to the root folder, which is public_html by default. If your website is hosted on another folder then you need to go to that folder.
For a normal WordPress website, the default root folder is the public_html.
Create a folder named .well-known (do not forget to write the dot(.) before). The dot before the folder name/filename hides it. If you are not able to see the folder after creating it then go to the Settings menu and check the ‘Show Hidden Files‘.
Open the .well-known folder and create another folder named acme-challenge under it.
Now upload the two files you downloaded from the SSL for the FREE website.
Verify the Upload
Now very the uploads by clicking on the verification link provided by the SSL for FREE websites.
Click on both of the links one by one. It will show some random characters in a new tab of the browser. Or it may download the files from your host, depends on the behavior of the browser.
If none of them happens after clicking on the verification links then you need to go through the upload process again after deleting the folder on your host root folder.
If everything is working fine till now, the go-to the next step.
Get the Certificate Keys
Now you need to paste the keys on the SSL on your host. Click on the Download SSL Certificate and it will give you the keys for your domain.
Paste the Certificate Keys
Now go to your host and find the SSL option, normally you can find it under the security option. Click on it and it will open the SSL window. Here you have to paste the Certificates keys you generated on the SSL For Free website. Just Copy and paste the keys one by one.
I am using Hostinger as my hosting provider. You may see a little different window depending on your Hosting service.
Now Finally click on the save/install button. It will Install the key for your website.
Verify Installation of Keys.
Now you check the SSL has been installed under the SSL option. It will show you the Certificate Issuer is Let’s Encrypt. And you can check the Expiration date of the Free SSL Certificate.
One more thing you can/should do is Force HTTPS. It will serve the website everywhere with the HPPTS version. It is highly recommended.
You can do this by clicking on Force HTTPS if your hosting provider has the option. Otherwise, you can do this manually. Check the next steps to Force HTPPS manually.
If you do not find the Force HTTPS option on your host you can do this manually by the code.
Open your .htaccess file and under it write the code as on the picture and save it.
It will force you to load the HTTPS version everywhere. It is recommended task to Force the HTTPS.
The Free SSL Certificate will expire in 90 days. After 90 days you have to renew the Free SSL Certificate. You can set a reminder on the website by creating an account on SSL For Free. It will send you a reminder of when your certificate will expire.
Most of the Hosting providers are offering a FREE SSL Certificate with the domain. The certificates are also from Let’s Encrypt. When you will add another domain to the host you need to purchase or install a free SSL Certificate. Let’s Encrypt is quite good. I am using the certificate for this website. When I add an additional domain I always install the Let’s Encrypt SSL.
For WordPress websites, it is the best choice for Free SSL. Because some of the WordPress hosting providers do not provide Free SSL certificates.