Set up a free SSL certificate with the Let’s Encrypt Plesk extension

Haven’t you heard? SSL certificates aren’t just for eCommerce anymore. Everyone wants encryption; even Google is using it as a ranking indicator now. This has been a problem for a lot of hobby websites, sites that have no income or desire to support themselves with advertisements, and people for whom the expense of a commercial certificate is just too great.

The solution has arrived, and it’s in the form of Let’s Encrypt. A free SSL provider with a massive amount of industry support.

After doing some initial testing to make sure it would work well for our clients, we launched Let’s Encrypt across all our servers using the Plesk Extension. This allows users to create and install a free SSL certificate on their website within seconds. We wouldn’t necessarily recommend it for eCommerce sites, but for providing a valid SSL certificate at no cost – it can’t be beat.

Video Walkthrough

Prefer reading over watching? No problem.

  1. Begin by logging in to Plesk
  2. Once in Plesk, find the domain that you wish to secure in the list. If you don’t see a list of domains, click “Websites & Domains” in the upper left corner.
  3. Once you’ve found your domain settings, you may need to click the “SHOW MORE” link. It’s found roughly below the “Mail” or “Databases” icon. This provides you with a bunch more configuration options for your domain.
  4. Look for “Let’s Encrypt” and click on it to proceed.
  5. Enter your preferred email address (typically your tech contact)
  6. Include the www for your domain if it’s *not* being installed on a subdomain
  7. Click Install.
You’ve now got an SSL certificate!

Plesk automatically generates the CSR, sends it to Let’s Encrypt, retreives the certificate, installs it, then activates it for the domain.

Now that you’ve got the cert, if you’d like to force SSL to be active across your entire website, navigate to “Hosting Settings” for the domain and select the checkbox under the Security heading that says “Permanent SEO-safe 301 redirect from HTTP to HTTPS”.

If you’re using a web application like WordPress, you may also find you need to adjust some of your image resources, or use a plugin to forcefully change all resource links to HTTPS. Here’s how!

Any questions or feedback? Leave them in the comments.

Allen is a self professed geek and technology lover. He's always playing with one of his various websites, and loves helping customers with theirs. He can often be found with a coffee (light roast, please) in his hand and a smile on his face... or with a plate of bacon. Mmm, bacon.

4 Comments

  1. C on March 24, 2017 at 10:38 am

    I have completed the above instructions and want to force SSL to be active; however, when I go to the Host Settings to activate “Permanent SEO-safe 301 redirect from HTTP to HTTPS‚ÄĚ, I am unable to select the check box.

    • Allen Pooley on March 24, 2017 at 10:41 am

      Hi Corey,

      Looks like our Helium Plan permissions were behind the times with what’s needed for this with Plesk Onyx; it’s been fixed up and you should now be able to select that.

      Cheers
      Allen

  2. John Ainsworth on December 29, 2016 at 9:41 pm

    Websavers hosts our website.
    Network solutions manages our domain name, we have 4.
    We do not presently have an SSL certificate.
    Our website has one page that viewers can ask a question only.
    What is the ideal SSL certificate requirment for our site?
    What has to be provided to Network Solutions?
    What is the cost?
    Regards.

    • Jordan Schelew on December 29, 2016 at 9:44 pm

      Hey John,

      If there’s no eCommerce transactions, I’d go with Let’s Encrypt. It’s enabled within Plesk with a single click on the Let’s Encrypt button. Nothing needs to be done with Network Solutions and it’s completely free ūüôā

      -Jordan

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