Switch WordPress from HTTP to HTTPS on Ubuntu with Let’s Encrypt and Nginx

By now you probably know how important running your websites or blogs over HTTPS is… Google and other search engine providers are ranking sites using SSL/TLS or HTTPS better than those that are not.

Even today, most website providers are making all their customers’ websites HTTPS compliant by default… So if you’re still running your WordPress websites or blogs not using HTTPS, then you’re probably doing it wrong.

This brief tutorial is going to show students and new users how to convert existing WordPress websites from HTTP to HTTPS easily without losing your audience.

When you’re done, all traffic to your sites will be redirected to the HTTPS version of your content.

To get started with migrating your WordPress sites to HTTPS, continue with the steps below:

Step 1: Setup Let’s Encrypt Free SSL / TLS

The first step going all HTTPS is obtaining SSL/TLS certificates for your domain or site. Since Let’s Encrypt is free, continue below to obtain your free certificates to use.

Before obtaining Let’s Encrypt certificates, make sure your Nginx configuration is setup correctly… for your site config file, make sure the ServerName is defined with both www and non www.

server {
    listen 80;
    listen [::]:80;
    root /var/www/html/wordpress;
    index  index.php index.html index.htm;
    server_name  example.com www.example.com;
.............
.............

When those settings are confirmed, continue below to get the certificate for your domain name.

To get the Let’s Encrypt SSL/TLS client installed on Ubuntu, run the commands below

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:certbot/certbot
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install python-certbot-nginx

After that run the commands below to obtain your free Let’s Encrypt SSL/TLS certificate for your site.

sudo certbot --nginx -m admin@example.com -d example.com -d www.example.com

After running the above commands, you should get prompted to accept the licensing terms. If everything is checked, the client should automatically install the free SSL/TLS certificate and configure the Nginx site to use the certs.

Please read the Terms of Service at
https://letsencrypt.org/documents/LE-SA-v1.2-November-15-2017.pdf. You must
agree in order to register with the ACME server at
https://acme-v01.api.letsencrypt.org/directory
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
(A)gree/(C)ancel: A

Choose Yes ( Y ) to share your email address

Would you be willing to share your email address with the Electronic Frontier
Foundation, a founding partner of the Let's Encrypt project and the non-profit
organization that develops Certbot? We'd like to send you email about EFF and
our work to encrypt the web, protect its users and defend digital rights.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
(Y)es/(N)o: Y

This is how easy is it to obtain your free SSL/TLS certificate for your Nginx powered website.

Please choose whether or not to redirect HTTP traffic to HTTPS, removing HTTP access.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1: No redirect - Make no further changes to the webserver configuration.
2: Redirect - Make all requests redirect to secure HTTPS access. Choose this for
new sites, or if you're confident your site works on HTTPS. You can undo this
change by editing your web server's configuration.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Select the appropriate number [1-2] then [enter] (press 'c' to cancel): 2

Pick option 2 to redirect all traffic over HTTPS. This is important!

After that, the SSL client should install the cert and configure your website to redirect all traffic over HTTPS.

Congratulations! You have successfully enabled https://example.com and
https://www.example.com

You should test your configuration at:
https://www.ssllabs.com/ssltest/analyze.html?d=example.com
https://www.ssllabs.com/ssltest/analyze.html?d=www.example.com
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

IMPORTANT NOTES:
 - Congratulations! Your certificate and chain have been saved at:
   /etc/letsencrypt/live/example.com/fullchain.pem
   Your key file has been saved at:
   /etc/letsencrypt/live/example.com/privkey.pem
   Your cert will expire on 2018-02-24. To obtain a new or tweaked
   version of this certificate in the future, simply run certbot again
   with the "certonly" option. To non-interactively renew *all* of
   your certificates, run "certbot renew"
 - If you like Certbot, please consider supporting our work by:

   Donating to ISRG / Let's Encrypt:   https://letsencrypt.org/donate
   Donating to EFF:                    https://eff.org/donate-le

The highlighted code block should be added to your Nginx WordPress configuration file automatically by Let’s Encrypt certbot. Your WordPress site is ready to be used over HTTPS.

server {
    listen 80;
    listen [::]:80;
    root /var/www/html/wordpress;
    index  index.php index.html index.htm;
    server_name  example.com www.example.com;

    location / {
        try_files $uri $uri/ /index.php?$args;        
    }

    location ~ \.php$ {
    fastcgi_split_path_info  ^(.+\.php)(/.+)$;
    fastcgi_index            index.php;
 #  fastcgi_pass             unix:/var/run/php/php7.0-fpm.sock;        # for Ubuntu 17.04
    fastcgi_pass             unix:/var/run/php/php7.1-fpm.sock;        # for Ubuntu 17.10
    include                  fastcgi_params;
    fastcgi_param   PATH_INFO       $fastcgi_path_info;
    fastcgi_param   SCRIPT_FILENAME $document_root$fastcgi_script_name;
    }

    listen 443 ssl; # managed by Certbot
    ssl_certificate /etc/letsencrypt/live/example.com/fullchain.pem; # managed by Certbot
    ssl_certificate_key /etc/letsencrypt/live/example.com/privkey.pem; # managed by Certbot
    include /etc/letsencrypt/options-ssl-nginx.conf; # managed by Certbot
    ssl_dhparam /etc/letsencrypt/ssl-dhparams.pem; # managed by Certbot

    if ($scheme != "https") {
        return 301 https://$host$request_uri;
    } # managed by Certbot

    # Redirect non-https traffic to https
    # if ($scheme != "https") {
    #     return 301 https://$host$request_uri;
    # } # managed by Certbot

}

Step 2: Change WordPress Site URL

After configuring Nginx to use HTTPS above, change WordPress site URL to use HTTPS… this can be done by editing wp-config.php file in your WordPress root directory.

sudo nano /var/www/html/example.com/wp-config.php

Open WordPress wp-config.php file in your WordPress root directory and add the lines below:

?php 

//Use HTTPS for WordPress
define('WP_HOME','https://example.com');
define('WP_SITEURL','https://example.com');
define('FORCE_SSL_ADMIN', true);

Save the file

Now you should be able to logon to WordPress admin dashboard via HTTPS…

Step 3: Install Search & Replace Plugin

Finally, logon to WordPress dashboard and install Search & Replace plugin to switch all HTTP references in the database to HTTPS

ubuntu wordpress https

After installing and activating the plugin, go to Tools –> Search & Replace… then as shown in the image below, search and replace the non http URL with the https version for all tables.

wordpress https ubuntu

 

This should do it.

After that, your site should be HTTPS compliant.

Congratulations! You’ve successfully converted from HTTP to HTTPS

To setup a process to automatically renew the certificates, add a cron job to execute the renewal process.

sudo crontab -e

Then add the line below and save.

0 1 * * * /usr/bin/certbot renew & > /dev/null

The cron job will attempt to renew 30 days before expiring

You may also like the post below:

How to Enable Windows 10 Built-in OpenSSH Client

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