SiteGround tech support recently introduced a new feature to me when I asked the cost for an SSL certificate for a client’s website. She said I can set up an SSL certificate for free using a new feature available at their web hosting cPanel called “Let’s Encrypt.”
I tried it out and it seems to work! I’ve coded this link with http protocol. Click it to see that the server redirects you to a page that uses the https protocol. Does it work for you? Or does your browser display some SSL certificate error messages?
For a long time I’ve provided SSL encryption only when necessary (e.g. e-commerce sites, sites that collect visitor’s private info) because it’s extra cost (lately about $80/year) and requires tech support’s help. I looked into how SSL could work without needing a dedicated IP address:
I found a thread that explains why no dedicated IP address needed for the SSL certificate. It says that if your web server’s SSL library supports “server name indication” (SNI), which all modern libraries do, there’s no longer a need for a dedicated IP address for each SSL certificate.
The difference is that if the browser supports SNI, it can send the host name unencrypted, so the server can properly match the virtual host without needing to decrypt the request first. It also says that for older versions of IE browser running on Windows XP, these browsers don’t support SNI. It doesn’t say how web servers would handle such requests from these browsers
… but this next article gives an example of extra work a web server has to do to figure out which website to go to if it gets a request from IE browser with host name encrypted: if it can’t figure out which website to go to, it returns a certificate error.
Joomla has a setting that lets you direct the website to USE the SSL certificate once the certificate is installed on the web server. That’s how I finished the SSL setup for the example Joomla website above.
For a future topic, once I learn how to set up SSL for a WordPress website I’ll make a new post here.
This just in (9/26): WPBeginner has an article all about how to set up an SSL certificate at SiteGround and DreamHost then what’s required once the certificate is installed, to use it in your WordPress site. I have not yet read the article, but I’m open to comments from others who have and tried it out.
A quick online search just now shows that only SiteGround and DreamHost offer integration with Let’s Encrypt. I am looking for my 2nd-favorite web hosting company, InMotion Hosting, to support Let’s Encrypt, but it seems as of Dec 2015 they have no plans to add it.