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SSL Certificate: Guide for a success forum migration to HTTPS

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SSL Certificate: Guide for a success forum migration to HTTPS

Post by The Godfather on February 3rd 2017, 4:28 pm

Step to migrate your forum to HTTPS


Migrate a forum to HTTPS needs preparation. Depending of forums, the migration to HTTPS may be more or less easy. The main task of the admin is to update the external links (pics, JavaScripts, CSS,...) to make them also in HTTPS.

Below, a guide with information and steps to follow to migrate from HTTP to HTTPS.

1. First of all, be aware of the migration to HTTPS impacts


Migrate from HTTP to HTTPS offer many advantages and drawback on any website.

1.1. Advantages of the HTTPS


  • Light gain in search engige optimization : Google told that HTTPS became a determining SEO criterion. Indeed, there is a light bonus for secure website since 2014.
  • Emphasis of the security on browsers : a green "Secure" label on Google Chrome appears on your forum when HTTPS is running. HTTPS improves users trust about your forum.
    SEE EXAMPLE:
  • HTTPS is about to become a norm : Migrate your forum to HTTPS give you the possibility to take the lead on potential future updates. For example, Google Chrome didn't deny the fact that the "Not secure" label, currently grey, may become red in the future.

1.2. Drawback of the HTTPS


  • Updating all your links : to have the green "Secure" label, EVERY resources on each pages must be called in HTTPS. In case of a mixed content (HTTPS page with scripts called in HTTP, for example), the green "Secure" label won't be displayed in Google Chrome. Some other browsers may display an alert.

  • SEO : migrate from HTTP to HTTPS is equal to a domain change for search engine. In this way, the migration can take time and drag a loss of position in Google results. But don't be afraid: that is temporary.
  • A reset of the social sharing counters : when you migrate your forum from HTTP to HTTPS, your social media counters will be reset: likes, tweets, +1...

So, should I go to HTTPS ? That's a personal decision ! Maybe you can feel concerned by this change, maybe not. You have to weigh up the pros and cons about advantages and drawbback to decide if you migrate or not.

Don't forget that even if Google Chrome is the most used browser in 2016 it isn't the only ! Have a look on the other browsers (visual alert, compatibility...), and especially on Firefox (Read the article on the Mozilla support).

2. Forumotion's role in the forum migration to HTTPS


If you ask for the activation of the SSL certificate on your forum, all the changes are automatically made by Forumotion:
  • Set up of a valid SSL certificate on your forum
  • 301 redirect of every HTTP pages to HTTPS pages, upgrating of the canonical tag, internal links and sitemap links.
  • Automatic upgrade of each basic resources of Forumotion and some external links related to knows services.

See the list of automatically updated HTTPS resources by FORUMOTION:
ahlamontada.
facebook.
foroactivo.
forum2x2.
forumactif.
forumeiros.
forumgratuit.
forumieren.
forumotion.
hitsk.in
i.imgur.com
im.all-up.com
imgfast.net
imgur.com
ipgetinfo.com
photobucket.com
postimg.org
redcdn.net
servimg.com

Thanks to this automatic actions, you can migrate your Forumotion forum in HTTPS with ease. However, you have some modification to do on your side.

3. Admin's role in the forum migration to HTTPS


To succeed in the HTTPS migration, the admin has to make changes by its own on his forum. The task isn't complicate, but may take less or more time depending on the forum.

The main objective is to display the green "Secure" label on all the new pages of the forum and the majority of the old pages. Nevertheless, having 100% of your pages with the green "Secure" label is complicate because of the mixed content that a discuss forum display.

Then, here is the steps to follow to succeed in migrate your forum to HTTPS:

3.1 Uptade personalised resources


These are the resources that you have added to your forum to modify or customize it: scripts, pics, visits counter, etc. They all have to be called in HTTPS to have the green lock.

Note that Forumotion gives you an option to allow to automatically call basics resources of your forum in HTTPS. This option is available for the admin when his SSL certificate is activated on his forum. If you want to automate the switch of your forum resources in HTTPS, then go to the next steep: "3.2. Activate SSL certificate to switch the forum in HTTPS"). Otherwise, read the spoiler for the manual way.

SEE OUR ADVICE TO SWITCH MANUALLY THE RESOURCES OF YOUR FORUM IN HTTPS:
You decided to do not automate the switch of the resources in HTTPS ? Your task will be to find and update manually these customized resources in HTTPS to replace them by their equivalent in HTTPS if they exist, to avoid mixed content issues.

Main resources concerned are:
Code:
<img> (src attribute)
<script> (src attribute)
<link> (hred attribute) (CSS)
{background:url() (in CSS)
<audio> (src attribute)
<video> (src attribute)
<iframe> (src attribute)

Here are the steps to follow:

  1. To update a personalized resource, you have to copy-past its URL in your browser.
  2. Then, replace the http:// by https:// to verify that the resource if available in HTPPS
  3. If it is available in HTTPS, replace the address in HTTP by the one in HTTPS.
  4. If not, action will depend on the resource. If it is a script, you will have to host it on your forum. If it's a picture, you can host it on Servimg that is totally compatible with HTTPS.


SEE EXAMPLE:
For this external resource called HTTP for example:
Code:
<link href='http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Ubuntu+Mono' rel='stylesheet' type='text/css' />
The address of the resources will be re replaced by its equivalent in HTTPS:
Code:
<link href='https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Ubuntu+Mono' rel='stylesheet' type='text/css' />

In order to help you to find external resources that you may added to your forum, here is a not exhaustive list of the main pages to verify:
  1. Go to your admin panel and look at your templates, CSS, favicon, pictures, personalized widgets, external scripts, ... to look for HTTP links
  2. Go to the index of your forum and open the homepage, a category, a subforum and a topic. Then look at the page source ("Ctrl U" on your keyboard) and look for HTTP links.


To summerarize: Mixed content issue is caused by a not secure resource (whose address is in HTTP) called by a secured HTTPS page. Because of mixed content the green "Secure" label on Google Chrome cant be displayed. On Firefox, you will see a green lock with a grey sign alert.

3.2. Activate SSL certificate to migrate your forum in HTTPS


Activation of SSL certificate for a Forumotion forum is available in the admin panel as a paid option. You can switch your forum to HTTPS with only one click !

Indeed, Forumotion puts at your disposal a new option that gives to the founder the possibility to order the set up of the SSL certificate on his forum. You can do this from the admin panel > Misc > Spend credits > SSL Certificate :
SEE EXAMPLE:

The cost of the set up of the SSL certificate on your forum is 500 credits for a 12-month renewable term.

So that you can have an overall view, here is the exact process:

  1. Your forum is in HTTP and you want to secure it by switching in HTTPS mode
  2. You add 500 credits on your credits management
  3. You order the set up of the SSL certificate via Credits management > Spend credits > SSL Certificate
  4. The SSL certificate is activated on your forum. You can see the announce "The SSL certificate for your forum is active . It expires in : XXX Days" in the "Enabling the SSL Certificate (HTTPS)" bloc. Note that the enabling can take 4 days long.
  5. Then a new bloc called "Configuring the HTTPS protocol" appears below. It is where you can configurate the protocol of your forum with your own choices.
  6. In this same bloc, the option "Forum protocol" permits to choose if you want an HTTP or HTTPS forum.
  7. If you keep it in HTTP it is like you never installed the SSL certificate. If you switch to HTTPS, it applies the certificate on all your forum URL and puts them in HTTPS.
  8. Your forum is now in HTTPS and secured !

SEE EXPLAINATION:

Roughly, having an SSL certificate unlock the possibility to use HTTPS url but you are not obliged to use HTTPS as basic protocol. It stay an admin's choice to activate or not the HTTPS via the option 'Forum protocol".

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The SSL certificate option is availabke of every Forumotion forums with or without personalized domain name acquired by Forumotion service. It's not possible to install an SSL certificate on a forum with an external domain name (CNAME) because we do not have control on external domain names.

3.3. Test your "new" HTTPS forum


Once your forum in HTTPS, don't forget to go around to verifiy that everything runs well. Think to look at eventual mixed content issues.

Some services, free or paid, permit to check if your pages are in HTTPS and find eventuel issues. See this example with an online service: www.whynopadlock.com and a software: httpsChecker.

3.4. Webmaster tools upgrading


Switch to HTTPS impose to upgrade some webmaster tools. The last step is to add your HTTPS forum on Google Webmaster Tools and BING Webmaster Tools, especially to continue to access at your forum data.

This action also allow to speed up the consideration of the switch to HTTPS.

Finally, if you have issues, Forumotion support is here to help you during the process. Don't hesitate to open a topic in the dedicated section for the migration to HTTPS.

Forumotion Staff king

The Godfather
Administrator
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