SSL Certificate Generation and Installation Tutorial – Step By Step Instructions

SSL Certificate

Google has made it mandatory to secure all websites and blogs with SSL certificate. SSL stands for Secure Site License and is provided by various agencies. Normally, hosting providers supply licenses upon request for a fixed fee. However, you can obtain the license completely free of cost using dedicated web-based providers such as SSL For Free.

SSL For Free is part of Let’s Encrypt, which is the first free and open source non-profit Certificate Authority. The company generates a certificate using ACME server with the help of domain validation. Moreover, the free SSL certificate issued by Let’s Encrypt is trusted by all major browsers.

The main benefit of SSL certificate is that it protects not only data but also will be able to gain trust and reputation among visitors and customers. A website secured using SSL certificate will improve search engine ranking. The relevant website or blog will be protected against hacking attempts. In this article, we will examine the steps required to generate and set up an SSL certificate for free.

Even if you are a newbie, you will be able to create and set up an SSL certificate for your website quickly if you follow the steps outlined in this article.

Step 1

Navigate to sslforfree.com

Step 2

Provide your website/blog URL in the “enter your website to secure” text box without “http” and select “Create Free SSL Certificate” button.

Step 3

You will view a new page with the message Free SSL Certificate Validation as shown below.

SSL For Free provides three types of verification such as automated FTP, manual and through DNS. We recommend manual verification since there is no need to provide any login credentials. If you don’t have access to your server via FTP, you can also opt for DNS verification. However, you should know the exact steps that need to be done.

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Step 4

Select Manual Verification button. In this step, you should download the required files provided by SSL For Free and upload them to the web server. You should follow the steps displayed on the screen. Select the green colored Manual Verification button located below the page and wait.

Step 5

Firstly, you should download the two verification files by selecting the links Download File #1 and Download File #2 respectively. You should download and save the files to a folder, which you can easily locate.

Step 6

The next step is to create a folder named “.well-known” and “acme-challenge” under the first folder. You should upload the downloaded files directly to the “acme-challenge” folder.

You can easily upload the files via FTP and double-clicking the website name. If you are using FileZilla, you should right-click on the remote site section and select “Create Directory” from the popup menu.

Step 7

After uploading the required files, you should select the URL’s provided in Step 5 on the above figure for verification. If you have uploaded the files correctly, you will view random alphanumeric characters.

Step 8

After completing the above-mentioned steps, you should download the SSL certificate by selecting “Download SSL Certificate” button. It takes few seconds to generate the certificate. You will view a new page as shown below.

You will view relevant code for the Certificate, Private Key, and CA Bundle files. It is also possible to download all the SSL Certificate Files by selecting the “Download All SSL Certificate Files” button. A file with the name sslforfree.zip will be downloaded, which you can make use of to secure your website.

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Step 9 – Installation

The next step is to properly install the SSL certificate on the web server of your site/blog. We assume that you have hosted the site on Linux using CPanel control panel. You can also make use of Windows hosting but for this purpose of this article, we will examine the process using CPanel.

Step 10

Login to CPanel, scroll down and locate the Security section. You need to select SSL/TLS option.

Step 11

You will view a new page with the title SSL/TLS, which displays a wide range of options. Select the last link with the caption Manage SSL sites.

Step 12

A new page with the caption “Manage SSL Hosts” will be displayed. There are two ways by which you can add SSL code. Firstly, you can provide the codes inside the relevant text boxes from within the CPanel. The second option is to automatically generate the code.

If you select a domain for which you generated the SSL Certificate, you will view a button captioned “Autofill by Domain”. The relevant certificate code will be fetched from the SSL For Free servers. However, it will take few hours from the time of creation to enable your hosting provider to resolve the newly generated certificate. Sometimes, this option will throw errors.

Hence, it is advisable to manually add the relevant code. You can manually provide the code relevant to Certificate, Private Key, and Certificate Authority Bundle by copying the code from the “Certificate Successfully Generated” page of SSL For Free. The code will look complicated but you just need to copy the stuff and paste them into the text boxes.

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After you select the Install SSL Certificate button, a confirmation dialog will be displayed on the screen as shown below. The installation of the certificate is now complete.

Step 13

After autofilling or manually providing the code, it is advisable to wait for few hours for your site to function properly. It will take nearly three hours for your site to work properly after the installation of the SSL certificate. It’s worth a wait because the rankings of your site will significantly improve the installation of the SSL Certificate.

Step 14

If you have installed the SSL Certificate on a WordPress site, you should perform an additional task. You need to login to the WordPress dashboard and select Settings. The http in the URL fields should be replaced with https. After saving, you will be prompted to log in again. If you check the URL field, it will be marked as Secure.

It is advisable to change from http to https after 2 hours from the generation of the SSL certificate to avoid interruption to your site. We hope the above tutorial helped you. Please let us know your feedback.

Anand Narayanaswamy is the editor-in-chief of Netans. He was recognized as a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) for 9 years (2002 to 2011) and currently part of MVP Reconnect program. He is also part of the prestigious ASPInsider program. Anand has published several articles and reviews related to various software and hardware products for various software and technology related websites. He is also active on social media and also participates as an Influencer for various brands. Anand can be reached at admin@netans.com

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