Simple Guide to setting up SSL on VirtualMin for a WordPress Website

It seems that everyone is going SSL these days. Even Google states that they will give you better rankings if your site is https.

It can be a bit overwhelming at first to try to figure out how exactly to make an existing site into a SSL site.

This article is for those with VPS servers that are running on VirtualMin.

What to do first

You can either go for a free certificate, or you can purchase a certificate.

If it is just a small or personal website you are probably going to be OK with the free option.

If you have an Ecommerce site or are a bigger organization that is looking for a commercial grade SSL certificate then you are better off going for something through a hosting provider like NameCheap.

This article is specific to a free SSL cert on VirtualMin.

Adding a free Lets Encrypt SSL Certificate to a Site using VirtualMin hosted on Digital Ocean

This is a very simple process. In fact I could not believe how easy it was to do.

I am using a pretty standard WordPress setup with Apache on VirtualMin in this instance. The site is hosted on Digital Ocean.

  1. Enabling SSL:
    Open the relevant server on VirtualMin. Select Edit Virtual Server, drop down Enabled features and ensure Apache SSL website enabled is selected.

  2. Manage SSL Certificate:
    Now underneath Server configuration there will be the option to Manage SSL Certificate. So click onto that.

  3. Let’s Encrypt:
    This is a pretty smooth integration right into VirtualMin.

    Click on Let’s Encrypt and you will see the domain names related to your site. Select Request Certificate and the Cert will be assigned to your domain names automatically.

    There will be an option there to automatically renew every 2 months if you leave it as the default. After 3 months the certificate will expire so the defaults are the best option here.

  4. If necessary open Firewall Ports:
    If your Firewall Ports are not yet opened you will need to do so to allow inbound HTTPS traffic on Port 443.
  5. Install WordPress Plugin:
    To put the finishing touches on your WordPress site the easiest way is to install a plugin like the one “Really Simple SSL”

    Activate the plugin and you should be good to go.

    Other Considerations

    By using the plugin above that will make sure all your links and images are https, plus that your redirections are in place.

    One more thing you can do is, if you are a webmaster tools (Search Console) user then head along and add a new property for your new https site.

    Have a click through your top pages and make sure all the images and links are working correctly, plus ensure the site is now listed as secure in the browser address bar.

    Warning from Search Console

    After a day or two you might get a warning along the lines of:

    SSL/TLS certificate does not include domain name

    This can sometimes be a false error message. Head along to a SSL checking site like SSL Checker and make sure everything is coming up green.

    Adding free SSL to WordPress
    VirtualMin – How to add an SSL Certificate

Rob StGeorge
Senior SQL Server Database Administrator residing in Auckland, NZ

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