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Quick reference guide for how to implement. Let’s Encrypt is a new free certificate authority, allowing anyone and everyone to encrypt communications between users and the web server with ease. For many businesses, cost is always a concern, so saving several hundred pounds for a basic SSL Certificate often means that most websites aren’t encrypted. This no longer needs to be the case and it would be recommended to implement SSL certificates on every website. Yes…we’re working on getting around to it on ours 🙂

We recently implemented Let’s Encrypt on a new project, Tendo Jobs and I was quite surprised how relatively straight forward this was to do. It wasn’t a completely painless experience, but it was reasonably straight forward. For someone who manages a good number of websites, the cost savings annually by implementing Let’s Encrypt on all websites that we manage and are involved with is enormous. Looking forward to getting this implemented on more websites.

Disclaimer as always, make sure you know what you’re doing before jumping in and just following these guidelines below. Every web server setup and configuration is completely different. So what is outlined below may or may not work for you, but hopefully either way this will give you a guide to be able to adjust accordingly for your own web server.

How to Set up Lets Encrypt

So, let’s get straight into this.

  • Reference:
  • Run command, yum install epel-release, to install the EPEL Package, Extra Packages for Enterprise Linux, lots of extra goodies, some of which are required.
  • Run command, sudo yum install git-all, to install GIT,
  • Clone the GIT repository for Let’s Encrypt with the command, git clone,
  • For cPanel servers, need to run a separate script, hence the next few steps
  • Install Mercurial with the command, yum install mercurial, This is Mercurial,
  • Run the install script command, hg clone /usr/local/sbin/letsencrypt && ln -s /usr/local/sbin/letsencrypt/letsencrypt-cpanel* /usr/local/sbin/ && /usr/local/sbin/letsencrypt/,
  • Run the command to verify the details have been installed correctly, ls -ald /usr/local/sbin/letsencrypt* /root/{,letsencrypt} /etc/letsencrypt/live/bundle.txt /usr/local/sbin/userdomains && head -n12 /etc/letsencrypt/live/bundle.txt /root/ /usr/local/sbin/userdomains && echo “You can check these files and directory listings to ensure that Let’s Encrypt is successfully installed.”
  • Generate an SSL certificate with the commands;
    1. cd /root/letsencrypt
    2. ./letsencrypt-auto –text –agree-tos – certonly –renew-by-default –webroot –webroot-path /home/{YOUR ACCOUNT HERE}/public_html/ -d -d
    3. Note: Make sure you change the domains in the above, your email address and the {YOUR ACCOUNT HERE} would be replaced with /yourusername/ without the brackets.
    4. Reference:
  • Run the script with the commands;
    1. cd /root/
    2. chmod +x
    3. ./
    4. Again, change your domain name above
  • Set up a CRON Job within cPanel as follows, which runs every 2 months;
    1. 0 0 */60 * * /root/.local/share/letsencrypt/bin/letsencrypt –text certonly –renew-by-default –webroot –webroot-path /home/{YOUR ACCOUNT HERE}/public_html/ -d -d; /root/
  • For reference, The SSL certificate is placed in /etc/letsencrypt/live/bundle.txt when installing Let’s Encrypt.
  • Done!


Note on adding CRON job to cPanel, this is within cPanel WHM, not a cPanel user account. cPanel user accounts don’t have root privileges so a CRON job from within here won’t work. To edit the CRON job at the root level, first SSH into your server, then run the following command to edit the main CRON job file;

crontab -e

Add the CRON job details to this file at the bottom. Save the file. Then restart the CRON deamon with the following command;

service crond restart

It is recommended to have a 2 month renewal time at first as this gives you 4 weeks to sort this out before your certificate expires. Thankfully you should receive an email from your CRON service if this happens and you will also receive an email from Let’s Encrypt when the certificate is about to expire so there are double safe guards in place to do this.


On-Going Automatic Renewal & Manually SSL Certificate Installation

Important to note that when you automatically renew your Let’s Encrypt certificates, they won’t be automatically installed. The script doesn’t seem to handle the installation of the certificate. Instead, you may need to update the renewed certificates within the user cPanel account for the domain manually. To do this, open cPanel and view the SSL/TSL settings page, update the currently installed (and about to expire) SSL certificate and enter in the new details. The details for the new certificate will need to be obtained via logging into the ROOT server via SSH and viewing the updated SSL certificate details in the folder, /etc/letsencrypt/live/ where you can use the command pico cert.pem and pico privkey.pem to view the details you need to copy over to cPanel. It’s decoding the SSL certificates in these two files to make sure the dates have been updated, you can use a tool such as an SSL Certificate Decoder to decode the certificate. If the certificate is still showing the old details, then you may need to run the command letsencrypt-auto renew which will update the certificates.

Hope this is useful for your setup. Any questions, leave a comment.

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Michael Cropper

Founder & Managing Director at Contrado Digital Ltd
Michael founded Contrado Digital in 2013. He has experience working with national and multi-national brands in a wide range of industries, helping them achieve awesome results. Michael regularly speaks at local universities and industry events while keeping up with the latest trends in the digital industry.