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How to Get a Free SSL for HostGator

In this article, I will show you the step-by-step guide on how to get a free SSL for HostGator.

If you are interested in getting a SSL certificate for your website but is currently under a budget. Then worry no more as you can actually get one for free.

Let’s Encrypt offers free SSL certificate for everyone but the only catch is you would need to renew it every 3 months.

Personally, I do not mind it at all considering how expensive some SSL certificates are.

Furthermore, if you are in HostGator, then you are pretty lucky as HostGator allows you to install the Let’s Encrypt pretty easily.

The thing is, there are some hosting that uses a different control panel that basically doesn’t allow you to add your own SSL certificates.

I am very glad to tell you that HostGator is not one of these hosting.

Here are your step-by-step guide on how to get a free SSL for HostGator.

1. Go To ZeroSSL.com

The very first step is to go to ZeroSSL.com

Click on the Online Tools button.

It will then automatically scroll you down to this section.

Click the Start button.

The page will then refresh and bring you to this page.

2. Website Details

Type you domain name on the input field on the right side.

You will need to type both the non-www version and www version of your domain. Separated by a comma.

In my case I type gtgmyreviews.com, www.gtgmyreviews.com

Also check the HTTP Verification, Accept ZeroSSL TOS and Accept Let’s Encrypt SA checkboxes.

After this you can now click the Next button on the top right corner.

It will then show you a popup saying Generating CSR. Just wait for it to finish generating.

As soon as it is finished generating you will then see a popup messages on the lower right side confirming this.

Also the right textarea box will now be filled with text.

Click the Next button again.

It will show a popup again saying Generating Account Key. Just wait for it to finish generating again.

As soon as it is done, it will show a popup message on the lower right side again confirming this.

And also, the left textarea box will now be filled with text as well.

You can now click the Next button again.

3. Verifying Website Ownership

We will then be redirected to the Verification step.

Basically, we will need to upload two files in our cPanel before we can proceed to the next step.

If you have verified your website with Google before then the process is very similar. The only difference is we will need to upload the files in a different folder.

First is let’s download the two files by clicking on the download icons as shown below.

You can now log-in to you HostGator cPanel.

Once you are inside your cPanel, find and click the File Manager icon.

Inside the File Manager, open the public_html folder.

Once you are inside the public_html folder, it should appear like this if you have WordPress installed.

By default, the HostGator File Manager already has the folders we need to add but they are hidden.

So we need to go to the folder settings to show the hidden files.

To do this look at the top right side of the File Manager.

Click on the Settings button.

It will then show you this popup.

Check the Show Hidden Files checkbox.

The page will then refresh and after that you should now see a .well-known folder appear.

Open the .well-known folder.

Once inside, open the acme-challenge folder.

You will then see that the acme-challenge folder is currently empty.

4. Uploading Verification Files

This is where we will upload the two files that we downloaded earlier.

Click on the Upload button.

It will then bring you to this page. Click the Select File button and look for the two files that we downloaded earlier.

In my case, I downloaded them in a specific folder and it appears like this.

The files we need to upload are the files named similar to ones being pointed at in the image below.

Select the file and click the Open button.

Do the same on the second file.

Make sure to upload both of the files and after that click the Go Back link below the upload page.

You should now see that the acme-challenge folder contains both of the files we just uploaded.

We can now go back to the ZeroSSL.com verification step.

5. Generating The SSL Certificates

Now that we uploaded the files necessary for the ownership verification.

We need to go back to the Verification step and click the Next button.

Finally we have now successfully generated our SSL certificates!

Now we just need to scroll down until we see these two textarea fields.

Within each one of them, there is a download icon button.

Click both Download icon buttons to get your SSL certificates.

6. Installing The SSL Certificates

The next step is to install your SSL certificate to HostGator.

First is you need to go back to your HostGator cPanel.

Once inside, find and click the SSL/TLS icon. You can find this normally under the Security section.

On the next page, find and click the Manage SSL Sites link.

You can normally find this at the bottom of the page.

You will then be redirected to a page that looks similar to this. Scroll down until you see this section.

Now this section has 3 textarea fields that you need to fill-up.

You may be worried because you only downloaded 2 text files.

Do not worry, because one of those text files actually contains 2 certificates.

Now let’s open the text files we just download.

The first one we will open is the text file named domain-crt which is the text file that contains 2 certificates.

You can open it with Notepad or whatever text editor you prefer.

In my case I used Sublime Text which is why it looks like this.

As you can see it contains two certificates.

For now let’s copy the first certificate text which is the top one.

After you copied it, go back to the Manage SSL Sites page and paste it on the Certificate (CRT) textarea field.

Next is let’s go back to the text file and copy the second certificate which is the bottom one.

After you copied it, go back to the Manage SSL Sites page again and paste it on the Certificate Authority Bundle (CABUNDLE) textarea field.

We can now close our first text file and proceed on opening the second text file.

The second text file we need to open is named domain-key.

Once you opened it, it should look like something like this.

Now copy all the certificate text in this text file.

Once you copied it, go back to the Manage SSL Sites page and paste it on the Private Key (KEY) textarea field.

Now we got all the 3 required fields filled up.

We can now scroll down at the bottom of the page and click the Install Certificate button.

At first it will show you a loading bar but as soon as it finished installing. You should see this confirmation popup.

That is it! Just click the OK button.

We now have a free SSL certificate successfully installed in our website.

7. Updating WordPress URL to HTTPS

The next step is we need to change our WordPress settings URL to HTTPS.

To do this, first log-in to your WordPress Dashboard.

Once inside, navigate to Settings > General.

On the WordPress Address (URL) and Site Address (URL), update the http: to https:

After you did that, scroll down and click the Save Changes button.

You will then be logged out so you will need to login again to proceed to the next step.

8. Install Really Simple SSL Plugin

The next step is to install the Really Simple SSL plugin for WordPress.

This plugin will automatically update the URLs of your media files in each post and page to HTTPS.

This will save you a lot of time instead of opening each file and changing the URLs manually.

Once inside the WordPress Dashboard, navigate to Plugins > Add New.

One the search box, type Really Simple SSL. The plugin we need should appear as the first result.

Click on the Install Now button.

After it finished installing click the Activate button.

The page will then refresh and you should see this large message box.

Click the Go Ahead, Activate SSL! button on the message box.

That is it! You have now successfully installed your free SSL and made your website HTTPS ready.

You can now visit your website’s domain and it should automatically redirect you to the HTTPS version.

Conclusion

I understand that it is a pretty long step-by-step guide but honestly it is pretty straightforward.

There is no coding part just mainly copy, paste, opening links, logging-in and checking checkboxes.

Kudos to Let’s Encrypt for providing us with free SSL certificates for a couple of years now.

If you are in a budget but really interested in getting an SSL for your website then consider using the Let’s Encrypt free SSL.

Aside from obvious security benefits. Customers are most likely to fill-up your forms if they see that secured icon in your website’s URL.

If you are considering DreamHost to host your website. You can also install a free SSL on it. Here is my step-by-step guide about it if you are interested.

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How to Get a Free SSL for DreamHost

In this guide, I will show you how to get a free SSL for DreamHost hosting.

It is highly recommended for any website owners nowadays to use SSL in their website.

Aside from the obvious security benefits due to encrypted data transfer.

Many visitors are also most likely to give you their personal information if they see that secure padlock icon on your website’s URL address bar.

The best thing about this though is that nowadays you do not really need to spend a fortune to get an SSL for your website.

This is because there is a free SSL now from Let’s Encrypt. Basically Let’s Encrypt is a free, automated and open Certificate Authority.

The only difference between Let’s Encrypt and your regular SSL that you buy yearly. Is that you will need to renew your Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate every 3 months.

If you are in DreamHost hosting, they integrated Let’s Encrypt into their Web Panel already.

So the process of installing their free SSL is so much easier.

This is because you do not need to go to an external website anymore to get your free Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate.

It can be done directly from their Web Panel.

Here is your step-by-step guide on how to get a free SSL for DreamHost.

1. Login to DreamHost Web Panel

The very first step is to log-in to your DreamHost Web Panel.

2. Getting the Free SSL

Once logged-in, click the Add an SSL Certificate link under the More Options section.

You will be redirected to a page where you can choose which SSL certificate you want to use.

Click the Let’s Encrypt SSL which is 100% free.

On the next page, you will need to Choose a Domain where you want to install the free SSL.

Click on the dropdown and choose your respective domain.

Also make sure that you check No Thanks, I’m Good under the Include a Unique IP section.

Next is you will have to scroll down and check the I Agree To The Let’s Encrypt Terms of Service checkbox.

Then finally click the Add Now button to start installing your free SSL.

After you click the Add Now button, the button will change to Processing.

Just wait for it to finish processing.

As soon the as the processing is finished, it will redirect you to this page.

This means that the free SSL installation to your domain is successful.

Now you just have to wait a few minutes for the free SSL to be fully implemented.

3. Updating Your htaccess File

While waiting, let’s proceed on updating your htaccess file.

Basically we want to add a couple lines of code on it to make it automatically redirect our URL to the HTTPS version of our site.

The very first step is to find out our FTP Server, FTP Username and FTP Password.

To do this, we will need to open the email from DreamHost which has a subject DreamHost Account Approval Notification!

On this email we will find a section which contains our FTP Server, FTP Username and FTP Password.

Take note of these details now as we will use them on the next step.

Next is we now have to login to an FTP Client so we can get access to the htaccess file and edit it.

The FTP Client I will be using in the steps below is FileZilla.

If you do not have it yet, feel free to click the link above and download it.

Once inside FileZilla, click on the Site Manager button.

A popup will then show, click on the New Site button so we can add our DreamHost website.

It will then show you an editable text under My Sites.

Go ahead and name your New Site however you like then press Enter.

In my case, I named it DHHost.

Next is focus on the right side namely on the Protocol, Host, Logon Type, User and Password.

Make sure they are set as follows:

  • Protocol – Make sure this is SFTP.
  • Host – This is your FTP Host that can be found in the Email I mentioned earlier.
  • Logon Type – Set this to Normal.
  • User – This is your FTP Username that can be found in the Email I mentioned earlier.
  • Password – This is your FTP Password that can be found in the Email I mentioned earlier.

After you filled up all the necessary fields. Click the Connect button.

It will then show you this popup. This popup only shows because this is your first time logging in and your system doesn’t know the host key yet.

Think about it like you meeting a new sketchy person which means you do not know anything about that person yet. So your subconscious is telling you to be careful.

Check the Always Trust This Host checkbox and click the OK button.

The FileZilla client will now start connecting and start retrieving your file list from DreamHost.

As soon as it finished connecting and retrieving your file list. The right side of FileZilla should now look like this.

Double click on your domain name folder to open it.

In my case it is gtgmyreviews.com folder.

You should now be redirected to your domain name folder and inside you will see the htaccess file.

All you have to do is right click on it and select View/Edit from the dropdown.

It will then give you this popup which allows you to choose which editor you want to use to edit the htaccess file.

If you do not have a preferred editor just choose the Use Default Editor option which will open the htaccess file in Notepad.

In my case, I prefer to use the Sublime Text editor so I chose the Use Custom Program option.

After you chose your editor, click the OK button.

It will then open the htaccess file in the editor you have chosen and it will look like this by default.

Now all you have to do is add these lines of code to your htaccess file:

# Rewrite HTTP to HTTPS
RewriteCond %{HTTPS} !=on
RewriteRule ^(.*) https://%{SERVER_NAME}/$1 [R,L]
# Redirect Non WWW to WWW
RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^goodtechguru\.com [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ https://www.goodtechguru.com/$1 [L,R=301]

The first 3 lines of codes are the only ones needed for the HTTP to HTTPS redirect.

The last 4 lines of codes are optional, what it does is redirect your visitors to the WWW version of your website even if they didn’t type the WWW in the browser URL.

In case you used the last 4 lines, do not forget to change the goodtechguru.com domain to your domain name.

After you added the codes above, your htaccess file should now look like this.

All you have to do now is save the file. The most common shortcut to do this is CTRL + S in Windows.

Or by going to the menu File > Save.

Important! Do not use Save As.

After you clicked Save. You can now close your editor and go back to FileZilla.

Once you are in FileZilla, you should see this popup already waiting for you.

Make sure to check the Finish Editing checkbox and click the Yes button.

It will now start uploading the new version of your htaccess to DreamHost. You can see the upload progress in the bottom section of FileZilla.

It will look like this while it is uploading.

The upload process should only take a few seconds.

After the upload is finished you can now log-in to your WordPress dashboard.

4. Installing Really Simple SSL Plugin

The next step is to install the Really Simple SSL plugin.

Basically what we need this plugin for is it will automatically convert out media links to HTTPS.

Without the need for us to edit each of our post that has media links manually.

To start the install process you should first login to your WordPress dashboard.

Once logged-in go to the Plugins > Add New section.

On the Search Box type Really Simple SSL.

It should be the first result.

Click the Install Now button on the Really Simple SSL result box.

After it finished installing, click the Activate button.

It will then redirect you to your plugins page and you should see this message box.

Click the Go Ahead, Activate SSL button.

The page will then refresh and it will now show you this SSL Activated! message box.

That is it!

5. Visit You Domain

You can now visit your domain name and it should automatically redirect you to the HTTPS version of your website.

All your media files should also now be in the HTTPS version.

Conclusion

I really admire DreamHost for integrating the Let’s Encrypt SSL into their system.

In other web hosting providers, the process is completely different but I will start creating guides for them too.

Basically, on the most common process you will need to get your Let’s Encrypt SSL from a different website.

Just make sure to set a reminder in your smartphone that you will need to renew your Let’s Encrypt SSL every 3 months.

If you are interested in starting a blog with DreamHost. Then you might be interested in reading my step-by-step guide on how to do it.