SSL

How to Install Free SSL From Let’s Encrypt on Shared Hosting

Introduction

Let’s Encrypt introduced free SSL certificates quite some time ago. It made possible for website owners to offer encrypted HTTPS connection for their visitors totally free of charge. Before Let’s Encrypt, the only way to get a valid SSL certificate was to purchase it from a seller.

Update: 

Hostinger, now offers cheap SSL certificates for a lifetime. It’s worth to check this offer, if you are serious about the protection of your website and don’t want to deal with SSL installation and setup. 

Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate can be installed with just a few lines of code on a VPS or dedicated server, however, installation on shared hosting accounts is still a bit complicated (unless it uses cPanel).

Hostinger doesn’t yet have an auto-installer for Let’s Encrypt SSL certificates (we are working on this), but there is a workaround – it can be installed manually using ACME client written in PHP and composer.

This tutorial shows how to install free SSL from Let’s Encrypt on Hostinger shared hosting.

What you’ll need

Before you begin this guide you’ll need the following:

  • Hostinger Premium or Business account.
  • SSH client.

Step 1 – Enabling SSH Access

SSH access is required in order to install SSL on shared Hostinger account. By default it’s disabled, but you can easily enable it by following these steps:

  1. Access Hostinger control panel and navigate to SSH section.
    Hostinger SSH Section
  2. Click on Disabled to change status to Enabled. Hit Update button.
    Hostinger Enable SSH
  3. The page will refresh and you should see information required to connect via SSH. Write it down as you will need it in the next step.
    Hostinger SSH Information

Step 2 – Installing ACME client and Composer

We will use ACME client written in PHP and composer to generate Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate.

First of all, you will have to connect to your hosting account via SSH and download all required components. If you are running macOS or Linux, you can use terminal to connect via SSH, Windows users can take advantage of Putty SSH client.

  1. Connect to your hosting account using SSH information from Step 1.3. In our example, it would be:
    ssh [email protected] -p 65002
  2. Clone acme client from github repository. Cloning can be done by executing the following command:
    git clone https://github.com/kelunik/acme-client
  3. Access ACME client directory:
  4. Download and install the composer:

Step 3 – Generating SSL Certificate

Once you have downloaded and installed ACME client and composer, you can proceed and generate free SSL from Lets Encrypt. Firstly, register an account by running this command:

php bin/acme setup --server letsencrypt --email [email protected]

Note that you need to change [email protected] to your actual email.

The process of generating SSL certificate is pretty straightforward. Execute the following command:

Change yourdomain.com to your real domain name and x123011738 to your actual username (you can check it on Step 1.3).

If certificate was issued successfully, you will see the following message:

ACME client generated certificate and private key files. Unfortunately, installation cannot be done via SSH due to security restrictions. Therefore, you first need to manually copy certificate and private key files to your computer. It can be done using simple copy / paste method. Firstly navigate to the directory where private key and certificate files are stored:

cd /home/x123011738/acme-client/data/certs/acme-v01.api.letsencrypt.org.directory/yourdomain.com

Use cat command to see contents of fullchain.pem file:

cat fullchain.pem

Copy the part marked in red and save it in a text file on your computer. Name the text file certificate.txt.

Let's Encrypt Certificate Copy

Now do the same with private key:

cat key.pem

Copy the private key (as shown in the screenshot) and save it in a text file as well. Name it privatekey.txt.

Let's Encrypt Key Copy

The hardest part is over. You can now proceed with the installation of SSL certificate.

Step 3 – Installing Certificate via Hostinger members area

At this step you should already have certificate and private key saved in txt files on your computer. The final step is to install SSL certificate on your hosting account. It can be done via SSL section:

  1. Access Hostinger members area and navigate to SSL section.
    Hostinger SSL Section
  2. Select the domain from the drop down menu for which you want to install SSL certificate.
  3. Paste contents from certificate.txt to Certificate:(CRT) and contents from privatekey.txt to Private Key:(KEY) fields. Press Install button once you are done.
    Installing SSL via SSL Section
  4. Once the installation is complete, you will see a success message.
    SSL Install Success

That’s it, you have successfully installed free SSL from Let’s Encrypt on shared hosting account. Your domain name will now work via HTTPS protocol.

Step 4 – Checking expiration date and renewing SSL certificate

Let’s Encrypt SSL certificates are set to expire every 90 days. You can check its expiration date via SSH using the following command:

You can also try to automatically renew Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate with a cron job. For example, in order to automatically renew SSL certificate, you can set cron job to run the following command every other month:

On Hostinger, cron jobs can be created on Advanced Cron Jobs section. You can use the following settings:

Cron Job to Renew Let's Encrypt

  • Minute(s) – :00 top of the hour (0)
  • Hour(s) – 12 a.m. Midnight (0)
  • Day(s) – Every day (*)
  • Month(s) – Every other month (*/2)
  • Weekday(s) – Every weekday (*)

Conclusion

Let’s Encrypt SSL certificates are great if you want to run your websites on HTTPS but don’t want to invest any money. This tutorial intended to show you a workaround you can use to install free SSL from Let’s Encrypt on shared hosting account.

33 Comments

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  • Thank you for this awesome guide. It was very helpful. I was just wondering if there’s a way to create a certificate for subdomains of my website as well, or do I have to create a separate certificate for each?

    • I am glad this tutorial helped you. If you want to use let’s encrypt on subdomains, you will have to install a different certificate for each subdomain. This means that you will have to repeat installation process for each subdomain.

  • I have installed ssl on my primary domain which is hackerrahul.com but when i installed it on my subdomain blog.hackerrahul.com , the tiny lock in the url bar is not coming and when i click over there it is saying that connection is not private. please tell me whats is that. thanks

    • Have you tried to clear you browser cache? I just checked and blog.hackerrahul.com displays a green pad lock for me which means connection is encrypted on your blog subdomain.

  • Brilliant Guide! Thank you so much for this, it took a couple of goes, and it may need updating as I got a couple of errors, but it worked fine overall. Any ideas on creating an automated version, maybe with a cron trigger? I say this as letsencrypt only lasts 90 days, and they advise to configure scripting to do this for you?

    • We are glad it helped. What errors did you get? Yes, developers already working on automated version and it should be released soon. Meanwhile, you can use cron job to renew Let’s Encrypt SSL every 90 days. For example:

      php acme-client/bin/acme issue –domains yourdomain.com:www.yourdomain.com –path /home/x123011738/public_html:/home/x123011738/public_html –server letsencrypt

      would renew the certificate automatically.

      • When i run

        php acme-client/bin/acme issue –domains yourdomain.com:www.yourdomain.com –path /home/x123011738/public_html:/home/x123011738/public_html –server letsencrypt

        It says

        Could not open input file: acme-client/bin/acme

  • Hey, this thing: Connect to your hosting account using SSH information from Step 1.3. In our example, it would be: ssh [email protected] -p 65002. I connect to that, just chaning my IP.: ssh [email protected] -p 65002. And it gives a password, but it says its wrong even though its not?

    • Have you changed your username as well? First part (bolded) should be changed as well [email protected]

  • Great topic! I have a question – is it possible to use free SSL for subdomains if I use CLOUDFLARE, my subdomain is added via A record? ssh shows me php issue 203 and notice: couldn’t resolve the following domains to an IPv4 nor IPv6 record…. anybody now how to fix it?

    • Hey,

      It’s not possible to use Let’s Encrypt with CloudFlare because of server configuration. You get 203 and notice: couldn’t resolve the following domains to an IPv4 nor IPv6 record because domain name is not pointing directly to Hostinger’s IP address. Solution would be to turn off CloudFlare and point it directly, or use free SSL from CloudFlare: https://www.cloudflare.com/ssl/

  • Thank you for this useful guide. Works like a charm for me.

    Just a question, after renewing Let’s Encrypt SSL, is there a way to automate the installation of the new certificate on the web server?

    Thanks.

    • Hey Nicolas,

      Unfortunately, it’s not yet possible to automate the installation process. However, in a few months Hostinger will completely automate free Let’s Encrypt SSL installation and renewal process 🙂

  • I have this problem (3) in the process of generating SSL certificate:

    Providing payload at http://www.xxxx.com/.well-known/acme-challenge/REfBSEEgrAEV8Tz3StJ44GU15UsrhCbAGsT6u9YvC9U Providing payload at http://xxxx.com/.well-known/acme-challenge/FiX5I3YY_p_wcKDyXyjI3dJRcV-AuFtEPSMBLn6z2Ok selfVerify failed, please check http://www.xxxx.com/.well-known/acme-challenge/REfBSEEgrAEV8Tz3StJ44GU15UsrhCbAGsT6u9YvC9U. selfVerify failed, please check http://xxxx.com/.well-known/acme-challenge/FiX5I3YY_p_wcKDyXyjI3dJRcV-AuFtEPSMBLn6z2Ok. Kelunik\Acme\AcmeException: Issuance failed, not all challenges could be solved. in /home/uxxx/acme-client/src/Commands/Issue.php:104

    ¿Can anyone help me?

    • Seems like you already installed SSL certificate. Sometimes when you have installed for the main domain but not installed for sub-domains and now you like to install on other domains or the main domain again. In this case while verifying the payload it forces via https but it should be load via http to be verified. But when you try opening http it forces to http and it becomes impossible to verify.

      Solution: Delete the Certificate via Hostinger members area and try running the command again. And now after verification install the certificates via same member area.

  • Thank you very much, it helped me a lot, now my domain is https://myweb.com . The problem now is when I try to test my web throug gtmetrix, it gives me this error: “Analysis Error

    The SSL certificate for this site is not trusted in all web browsers

    You may have an incorrectly installed SSL certificate. Check your SSL certificate at SSLShopper”

    Following the link it says: “The certificate is not trusted in all web browsers. You may need to install an Intermediate/chain certificate to link it to a trusted root certificate. “

    How could we solve this problem?

    Thank you very much!

  • hy, thanks for the good post, i followed the step but i’m failed in step 3, in the comand php bin/acme issue…, please advice how i fix that, thanks before

  • I made a script that will automate this for you, mostly . . .
    Still trying to figure out the automation of the cpanel parts with their API

    https://gist.github.com/abstracted/58e80ba8633a72d5abe03147717879a6

  • Hello! I have an issue with SSL, I’ve programmed a CronJob in my hostinger panel, but the certificate didn’t renew automatically, so now my site is an insecure site. I’ve tried as well to delete the certs but I couldn’t. I don’t know what to do now because I can’t install a new certificate in my site. I need your help or if hostinger have spanish support to install SSL and renew them or delete. I hope I’ve been explained. Greetings!

  • Hi

    After completion of the SSL following your instructions here, all seemed fine. However, once I viewed my site via the secured https protocol, all contents were blocked. Kindly advise what needs to be done. Do I need to remove the site and re-FTP the entire site?

    Thanks.

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