Having a Secure Socket Layer (SSL) certificate on your site will provide an extra security layer to it. The SSL certificate will enable encryption of data transfer between the users and your server which is especially important when your site is processing sensitive data such as user login credentials, personal data, and credit cards number.

On top of that, with SSL certificate your site can have a chance to rank better on Google SERP, avoid “Not Secure” mark in Google Chrome and other browser since your site would be able to load from the HTTPS protocol, leverage HTTP/2 which requires the use of HTTPS, and protect the site for other type of malicious actions such as code injection from your ISP.

Given all these benefits, installing SSL certificate and loading your site with HTTPS should not be ignored. So, in this tutorial, we’ll show you how to deploy an SSL certificate to your site running with Apache and cPanel. We will start by obtaining an SSL certificate from an authority vendor, then installing and verifying installation. Let’s get started.

Shortcut to:

  1. Purchase SSL Cert
  2. Generate CSR
  3. Activate SSL Cert
  4. Validate SSL Cert
  5. Download SSL Cert
  6. Install SSL Cert
  7. Test SSL Cert Installation

1. Purchase SSL Certificate

In order to set up the SSL certificate for your website, you first need to purchase it. You can do so by following the steps below.

  1. Sign up for a namecheap.com account or sign in if you already have one.
  2. sign up namecheapsign up namecheap
  3. Once you sign in, hover on the Security tab on the top right corner, and click SSL Certificates.
  4. howver securityhowver security
  5. Explore the available SSL certificate options. You can learn more about each option or compare them with eachother to decide which one would suit you. Once you decide which option to go for, click Buy Now.
  6. explore certexplore cert
  7. Proceed to buying your SSL certificate by clicking the Confirm Order, then click Pay Now on the next page to pay for the certificate.
  8. buy certbuy cert
  9. Once that is done, you will be directed to the following page that says “Thank you for your purchase!” Click Manage button to begin setting up the certificate.
  10. manage certmanage cert
  11. Your newly bought SSL certificate will be listed here. Now click Activate to activate your SSL certificate.
  12. activate certactivate cert

Next, I will take you through a 5-steps process to activate your certificate, starting with entering the CSR.

Let’s leave this browser window open for now.

5-steps process5-steps process

2. Generate CSR

There are many ways to generate CSR, however, in this guide, I will walk you through generating CSR via cPanel and WHM, and we will start with the former.

Click here to skip to how to generate CSR with WHM.

Generate CSR via cPanel

  1. Open a new browser window, go to the cPanel of your website, and login. Your cPanel URL should be either cpanel.domain.com or domain.com/cpanel.
  2. logi to cpanellogi to cpanel
  3. After logging in, look for Security and under this option click on SSL/TLS.
  4. ssl tls securityssl tls security
  5. The SSL/TLS page will show different options. Here click “Generate, view, or delete SSL certificate signing requests.” to generate a new CSR.
  6. generate csr cpanelgenerate csr cpanel
  7. On the next page, fill up all required information:
  • Key – Leave this to its default.
  • Domain – Enter the domain name of website for which you want to install the SSL certificate.
  • City, State, Country, and Company – Add all the respective information – these are compulsory.
  • Company division, Email, Passphrase, and Description – Add this information if you want – these are optionals.

Now click Generate to get your CSR code.

ssl tls fieldsssl tls fields
  • After clicking the Generate button, you will be provided the following 4 sets of codes:
    • Encoded Certificate Signing Request.
    • Decoded Certificate Signing Request
    • Encoded Key.
    • Decoded Key.
    generated csr codesgenerated csr codes

    Generate CSR via WHM

    If you are running your website from a dedicated server, chances are you will have access to WHM. Therefore you can also generate CSR via WHM.

    Click here to learn how to generate CSR via cPanel.

    1. Open a new browser window and login to WHM.
    2. login whmlogin whm
    3. After logging in, look for “Generate an SSL Certificate and Signing Request” under SSL/TLS on the left panel.
    4. generate csr whmgenerate csr whm
    5. First, check the box that says “When complete, email me the certificate, key and CSR” and then enter your email address to get a copy of the generated CSR later.
    6. email when completedemail when completed
    7. Next, fill up all the required information as follows:
    • Key Size – Leave it to its default.
    • Domains – Enter the domain you will install your SSL certificate.
    • City, State, Country, and Company – Add all the respective information – these are compulsory.
    • Company Division, Email and Passphrase – these are optional.

    Once done, click the Create button.

    ssl tls fields whmssl tls fields whm
  • After clicking the Create button, you’ll be given the following 3 sets of codes:
    • Signing Request.
    • Certificate.
    • Key.
    generated cert whmgenerated cert whm

    3. Activate Certificate

    If you’ve reached this far, that means you’ve either generated your CSR via cPanel or WHM. Now let’s proceed to activating your SSL certificate.

    1. Copy all codes from Encoded Certificate Signing Request (cPanel) or Signing Request (WHM) from the previous browser window into Enter CSR. The Primary domain will be auto-retrieved from your CSR. Once this is done, click Next.
    2. activate 1/5activate 1/5
    3. Next, double-check to make sure the correct web hosting server is selected and then click Next.
    4. activate 2/5activate 2/5
    5. Now choose a method to verify your domain. The easiest way would be to verify via email.
    6. activate 3/5activate 3/5
    7. Finally, re-check your submitted information before clicking the Submit button.
    8. activate 5/5activate 5/5

    4. Validate Certificate

    Since we choose the email for DCV method, we’ll be expecting an email asking us to verify that we are the owner of the domain we intend to install the SSL certificate. Here’s how you can validate the SSL certificate via email.

    1. Check your inbox for an email sent by the SSL provider. It should look something like the screenshot below.
    2. dcv emaildcv email
    3. Go into that email and follow the instructions to verify your domain.
    dcv email validatedcv email validate

    5. Download SSL Certificate

    You will verify the certificate via email, you’ll be sent the certificate to be downloaded. Here’s how you can do it.

    1. The emails you’ll receive, of which one of them will contain the certificate, would look like the screenshot below.
    2. email dowload certemail dowload cert
    3. You’ll have to look for the email from SSL provider with an attachment in .zip format.
    4. cert email attachmentcert email attachment
    5. Download and extract the attachment. It should consists two text files; one ending with .ca-bundle extension and the other ending with .crt. Open them up in your preferred text editor.
    6. download cert filesdownload cert files

    6. Install SSL Certificate

    Before we go on to install the SSL certificate, let’s do a recap. First we purchased an SSL certificate, generated CSR (via cPanel, or WHM) to activate the certificate. Then we’ve also validated, downloaded the certificate and finally have it opened in a text editor. And now, we’re going to install the certificate.

    We will start with the guide on how to install the certificate via cPanel.

    Click here to skip to installing via WHM.

    Install Certificate via cPanel

    1. Back in cPanel, navigate to Security > SSL/TLS and click on “Manage SSL Sites” under Install and Manage SSL for your site (HTTPS).
    2. cpanel manage ssl sitescpanel manage ssl sites
    3. Information on this next page needs to be carefully and accurately entered to ensure successful installation of the SSL certificate. Let’s go through each of the fields one by one.
    4. install ssl cpanelinstall ssl cpanel

      “Domain” – Click the drop-down and hopefully you may find the domain name is already in there. Here select the domain name.

      domain name cpaneldomain name cpanel

      “Certificate: (CRT)” – Copy all the codes in the file ending with .crt extension, and paste it inside here.

      certificate crt cpanelcertificate crt cpanel

      “Private Key (KEY):” – There was a browser windows we left opened while generating the CSR key earlier on. Go back there, copy all codes inside “Encoded Key:” and paste it here.

      private key cpanelprivate key cpanel

      “Certificate Authority Bundle: (CABUNDLE)” – Copy all codes from the file ending with .ca-bundle extension, pate it inside here.

      cert authority bundlecert authority bundle
    5. Do a final check, and then click the Install Certificate button.
    6. installation final checkinstallation final check
    7. If everything had gone well, you’ll see a prompt informing you that your SSL certificate has been successfully installed.
    8. install successinstall success

    Install Certificate via WHM

    1. To install SSL certificate via WHM, look for “Install an SSL Certificate on a domain” under SSL/TLS on the left panel and click on it.
    2. install cert whminstall cert whm
    3. You’ll need to provide all information carefully in order for the certificate to be installed successfully. Let’s go through each of them one by one.
    4. fields whmfields whm

      “Domain:” – Enter the domain name for which you want to install this certificate.

      domain fielddomain field

      “Certificate:” – Copy all codes from the file ending in .crt extention, paste it here.

      cert fieldcert field

      “Private Key:” – Revisit the browser window we left opened when generating CSR. Copy all codes in “Key” and paste it here.

      private key fieldprivate key field

      “Certificate Authority Bundle:” – Lastly, copy all codes in the file ending with .ca-bundle and paste it inside here.

      certificate authority bundlecertificate authority bundle
    5. Take a final re-check to make sure all the information is filled correctly and then hit the Install button.
    6. final checkfinal check
    7. Here’s what you will see if the certificate is installed successfully.
    8. install successinstall success

    7. Testing Certificate Installation

    If you’ve reach this far, congratulation, that means your SSL certificate has been installed. Now for the final step, let’s make sure if the SSL certification is working properly.

    Adding HTTPS before domain name

    The easiest way to see if the SSL certificate is working is by opening a new browser, add https:// before domain name, or replacing http:// with https:// and then hit Enter.

    If you see a lock (likely in green colour), that means the SSL certificate is up and running.

    testing domaintesting domain

    Check with web tool

    This, in my opinion, Using an SSL Cheker tool is a better way to check if SSL certificate is installed properly as it factors our browser cache which would lead to inaccuracy.

    Go to https://decoder.link/sslchecker/, enter your domain name and click the Check button. It will return you all information about the domain and its SSL certificate installed.

    testing tooltesting tool

    The post How to Install SSL Certificate for Your Website – Ultimate Guide appeared first on Hongkiat.

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