Your Connection is Not Private. . .
Late last night I got a frantic message from a client.
Tonight, my attempt to access the ABC website resulted in a ‘Connection not private’ error.
I loaded the site into my browser, and sure enough, Google was showing the scary “don’t continue any farther” message.
Fortunately, it was a simple fix that took me less than five minutes to deal with.
The SSL Certificate Had Expired
It’s easy today to get a free SSL certificate from Let’s Encrypt. What a lot of people don’t realize, though, is that those certificates are good for only 90 days.
If you host with Siteground and install the certificate through their cPanel, it’s supposed to renew automatically. Sadly, that auto-renewal doesn’t always work.
So it’s a good idea to stay on top of it and manually renew the certificate yourself before it expires and starts showing your customers that “don’t trust this site message.”
Fortunately, that’s also very easy to do.
Check the Certificate Expiration Date
It’s pretty easy to check right in your browser, without going into the danger zone. Here’s how to check in Chrome and Safari.
If you’re using the Chrome browser, type the URL into the address bar, then click on the padlock icon. For demonstration purposes, I’m using one of my sandbox sites.
You’ll see this.
Click Certificate to see details, including the expiration date.
It’s a very similar process in Safari. Go to the site, click the padlock icon. You’ll see this:
Click Show Certificate, and you’ll see the details, including expiration date.
If your certificate has expired, you need to renew it ASAP.
How to Renew Your Certificate On Siteground
If you’re hosting with Siteground and you set up your site encryption using their Let’s Encrypt link, renewing the certificate manually is super easy.
Log into cPanel, and scroll down until you see the Let’s Encrypt icon. Then click it.
You’ll see a list of all your certificates. Click the Select an Action dropdown next to the one that’s expired, and click Renew.
You’ll see a notice that your renewal request has been added to the queue. Wait a couple minutes, then open a new browser window and go back to your site. It should be working perfectly. If you go back and click the Let’s Encrypt icon again, you’ll see that the certificate for that domain now shows as Active.
If you host somewhere else, check your host’s documentation to find out how to manually renew your certificate — it should be a pretty similar process.
If Your Certificate Hasn’t Expired. . .
If the problem is not an expired certificate, you’ll need to dig deeper. The “connection is not private” message is almost always because of either no certificate, or a conflict between the name on the certificate and the URL, but there are other situations that can cause the error.
Before you panic, switch to a different browser, or open an incognito browser to see if you can safely reach the site that way. If you can, it would indicate a browser issue.
Good site maintenance habits will include knowing when your certificate is due to expire, and making sure your readers or customers never see that dreaded “not safe” message. If you’d rather not spend your time on ongoing maintenance, check out the maintenance plans I offer.