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SSL Certificate – New or Renewal

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Randy Downs
Randy Downs dba Downs Consulting Services is a verified Veteran-owned small business (VOSB)
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Periodically we have to update or add SSL certificates for customers. Depending upon your hosting plan you may be responsible for the installation and/or key generation. In the wake of Heartbleed many sites were forced to re-key.


We will concentrate on single domain certificates in this post but there are wildcard certificates available for companies that use lots of sub-domains.


It’s easier if your email is on the Admin Email contact  of the domain. My recommendation is to get this done first or you will be waiting on emails to someone else at various stages of the process. Here is GoDaddy’s guide for updating domain contact information.


Buying SSL Certificate or Renewal


If you need a new SSL you can find them on the Internet for as little as $5/year.  Be sure to check with your host to ensure the cheap SSLs can be installed on your host. If your SSL is up for renewal you need to renew the SSL or go through the entire procedure for new SSL. It’s easier to renew. 

Certificate Signing Request (CSR)


Once you have purchased a SSL or renewal you will need to generate a Certificate Signing Request (CSR) from your server or utilize an existing one if the server has not changed. Here’s a link to GoDaddy’s CSR generation and SSL Installation page. This request has to be approved by the domain Admin Email contact so this goes much faster if that’s you.


Download and Install the SSL Certificate


Once your CSR is approved you will be able to download the SSL certificate. If you have access to the server you may install yourself. Otherwise you will need to send the certificate to the host and let them install.

Here's GoDaddy's SSL installation procedure for Plesk as an example. Your installation procedure will depend on the server and your access. Likewise the hosting plan (managed or unmanaged) will determine the amount of assistance you will receive. 

Managed Hosting


In managed hosting you get a lot of help in these matters. They may do the installation for you or  guide you through the process. 

Unmanaged Hosting


Unmanaged hosting is the cheapest but it typically means you are on your own when installing certificates or troubleshooting. If you have a virtual private server (VPS) or physical server then you have the ability to install certificates via a control panel or SSH. For this sort of hosting you can purchase certificates wherever you like and install yourself. Most of these hosts offer little support but you may find videos that apply to your specific needs.  There will be instructions that come with the certificate but you will need to know what sort of control panel you use and/or your web server software.

If you don’t have access to the server certificates then it’s up to your host to install them and they may require you to buy directly from them. This may seem expensive but you won’t have to do much of the work.
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