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How to Add an SSL/TLS Certificate to Your DreamHost Site

If you’ve heard anything about secure certificates, you may have wondered if you need one for your website. While SSL/TLS certificates are technically optional, there are consequences to not using them, especially if you want to attract visitors through Google and provide them with a safe experience.

In this article, we’ll cover the basics of secure certificates. We’ll also walk you through the steps to follow if you want to add a free Let’s Encrypt certificate to your DreamHost website. Let’s jump right in!

What You Should Know About Secure Certificates

Website security is an essential aspect of conducting any kind of business or data exchange online. If you want to tighten up your site’s security, the first step is to make sure its information is transmitted over the secure HTTPS protocol, rather than the older HTTP protocol.

This can be accomplished by adding an SSL/TLS certificate to your website. That way, your visitors can be assured that any information they submit through your site is protected. Plus, Google prioritizes sites that use HTTPS, and even warns users that they might not be safe.

If you’re planning on accepting payments through your website, you’ll want to investigate all of your SSL/TLS options. Fortunately, here at DreamHost, we provide easy ways to safeguard your site, including a free certificate from Let’s Encrypt.

At DreamHost, Security Is on the House

We believe your private data should remain private. That's why we’re proud to offer FREE SSL/TLS certificates from Let’s Encrypt with every hosting plan.

How to Add a Let’s Encrypt SSL/TLS Certificate to Your DreamHost Domain (In 4 Steps)

Setting up a secure certificate is simple if you already have a website hosted on DreamHost. Let’s walk through the process in just four steps.

Step 1: Check Your DNS Settings

The first thing to do is to check your Domain Name Server (DNS) settings. You can do this by visiting your DreamHost Panel. Navigate to Manage Websites, then locate the website for which you want to secure the domain.

Next, click on the three vertical dots to the right of the site’s domain name. In the dropdown menu, click on DNS Settings.

check DNS settings in DreamHost Panel

After clicking, scroll down to the bottom of the page and look for the list of DNS records to view your nameservers.

If you are using DreamHost hosting services (including parking or a redirect of the site), and your domain is registered with DreamHost, you should use these nameservers:

  • ns1.dreamhost.com
  • ns2.dreamhost.com
  • ns3.dreamhost.com

As long as the nameservers are pointing to DreamHost, the records on your domain’s DNS page will be applied to your domain.

You’ll want to inspect the “non-editable DreamHost DNS records,” and make sure that your nameservers are pointed to DreamHost. If they aren’t, you’ll find that the Let’s Encrypt option is unavailable.

A non-editable DNS record.

In this case, you’ll need to make some adjustments. If your nameservers are not pointing to DreamHost, you’ll need to either point them or change your domain’s “A” records to point to your domain’s IP address. This allows us to perform the domain validation process on your behalf, signaling to Let’s Encrypt that you are, in fact, the person in control of the domain.

Step 2: Navigate to the SSL/TLS Settings in Your Hosting Panel

Once you’ve made sure that your nameservers are correctly coordinated, you can move on to the SSL/TLS settings in your user panel. You’ll find this by navigating to Websites > Secure Certificates in your user panel.

secure certificates in DreamHost Panel

Here you will see a list of all the domains you have hosted with DreamHost.

Step 3: Add a Certificate to the Domain of Your Choice

To add a certificate to the domain of your choice, select Add next to the domain’s name.

Adding Secured Certificate to unsecured domain in DreamHost Panel

Now you’ll have the option to add the free Let’s Encrypt certificate or the paid-for Sectigo DV Certificate for business sites. For now, choose Select this Certificate for the Let’s Encrypt option. If all goes well, you’ll receive a “success” message, and will be able to view the certificate in your user panel.

Note: If you run into any issues while your certificate is being set up, you can try renaming your .htaccess file to temporarily disable it, as this file can cause issues during installation. Once your certificate is installed, you can rename the file back to .htaccess. Find more details in our knowledge base.

Step 4: Test Your SSL/TLS Certificate

Testing your freshly-installed secure certificate is easy. Just visit your website’s main URL in a browser and look for the “lock” icon and “https” in the address.

The secure HTTPS lock icon.

If your certificate doesn’t appear to be working, you can revisit your user panel for more information, or contact DreamHost support for assistance.

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Safety First

Building trust with your website’s users is pretty crucial, especially if you offer eCommerce options. Making sure you have a secure certificate registered on your domain is one significant way you can ensure that data is transferred securely between browsers and your website.

To install a free Let’s Encrypt certificate on your domain, just remember these four steps:

  1. Check your DNS settings.
  2. Navigate to the SSL/TLS settings in your hosting panel.
  3. Add a certificate to your domain.
  4. Test your SSL/TLS certificate.

Here at DreamHost, we want you and your website’s users to feel confident about data and financial transactions. We also want you to be able to focus on building a customer base or website following. That’s why we offer secure certificates free with all of our hosting plans!

We’re Here to Help

If you have questions or just could use some help figuring some thing out, get in touch. Our team of web experts has been in the business for over 20 years and knows how to help you figure out the right next steps.