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SSL for Free using Cloudflare on your Website

My aim was to make my site more secure and get it SSL Certified with https in the URL. When I found that Google is ranking sites better that have this I thought I should really set this up. I thought enabling SSL would be difficult and expensive but it is actually quite simple and can be free.

Finding a basic SSL certificate to make it more secure and trusted was what I wanted. I didn’t need an advanced one as I do not accept payments on this site.

I first found Comodo SSL to be quite popular at £75.95 from their own website. Then I thought do I really want to pay more for a certificate than my own annual web hosting costs?
I then found Cheap SSL Security who were selling the same product as a reseller for only £3.81 a fraction of the cost!
On Comodo’s website they have a Free SSL option fully functional for 90 days. I was going to try this but then what do I do then? I didn’t want the hassle of changing Certificates and so kept looking further to see if there might even be a free unlimited certificate out there that I could use?

So I stumbled on Let’s Encrypt https://letsencrypt.org/ An Open Source Certification Authority completely free. This was great but then I found out that my web host was not on the listed of supported web hosts.

Just when I was about to give up I found out about Cloudflare. Cloudflare has a number of security tools and services and is trusted by many websites. From the website it doesn’t look obvious they provide a free SSL Cert but they do and it’s really simple to setup for any website. Here is what I had to do to enable it on WordPress.

SSL Process

  1. Create account with Cloudflare
  2. Enter domain and change nameservers on your domain to the Cloudflare ones
  3. Install Simple SSL plugin in wordpress
  4. Activate plugin
  5. The plugin did not detect an SSL certificate on the website (probably because it is going through Cloudflare DNS)
  6. At the top of the plugin page there was a button to Force SSL
  7. SSL was now enabled but not working properly. I had to clear cache in Total Cache. If you are using a caching plugin then I would do this too. Performance > General Settings > Click Toggle All Caches On/Off (at once) at the top> Click Save and Purge Caches.
  8. I accessed my site from https://1iq.uk and it was working in Vivaldi browser but not Chromium. In Chromium I got the i Icon which meant partially secure. Then I had to clear all browsing history and refresh it after 10 mins. I had the green SSL padlock on all pages and the http urls auto redirect to https automatically.
  9. Some images on the homepage were displaying as blank. To fix this I repeated steps 7 and 8 a few times and it is now all working OK.

After a few hours of searching and testing I have made my site secure, achieved better SEO, improved performance with Cloudflare DNS and I can add more domains if required, all for free.

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