It was long overdue, but now that I have to recertify as vExpert for 2019 and since I will be looking for new business opportunities, an upgrade to use ssl was long overdue. I host my blog at UnixSolutions, simply the best hoster I know in Belgium with the great support and options. Disclosure: I have a reseller account… so if you want to host there let me know … 😉
First the WordPress application I use for this blog itself: Unix Solutions uses a powerful, yet simple software management tool: Installatron. It includes a great portfolio of web apps, including ecommerce – ready websites! Once installed it is also very simple to take backups – even automatic ones. This came in handy later and it means my blog is safe without buying one of the professional plans from WordPress/Jetpack.
Unix Solutions supports a number of options for SSL configuration. I am not going into theory here, there are a lot of great resources for that. By default you can use a self-signed certificate, but that is obviously not going to roll for SSL encryption… When I asked they quickly reactivated support for Let’s Encrypt. I cannot give enough praise for an initiative like Let’s Encrypt. It is a free Certificate Authority. Where in the past you had to pay a lot of money to a CA like RSA, anyone can now secure their comms with their own certificate, free! The DirectAdmin interface at Unix Solutions makes it so simple, just fill out some fields, domain and subdomains and save! Presto and you get your certificate. You can even check automatic recertification!
After setting up SSL I applied the changes to my WordPress site as detailed here. I choose the second option of course, not to use a plugin but to edit config files to force rewrites from http to https and also for the admin interface. And then panic set in because my site would not load… I will spare you the details of everything I tried…. In the end I am not to proud to admit I went for a backup restore… I noticed that I could restore to the https version of the bitstream… and after a few minutes everything was working! You can see my second copy running in the first screenshot. And in good old IT fashion I am not exactly sure why! The backup option sure is great because you can configure it to make a backup before any WordPress upgrade, even plugin or theme updates.
And now the Bitstream is up and running again, ready for new blog posts…