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SSL Unavailable? Your SSL Questions Answered and Solved by Shopify Experts

8 min read Last Updated: March 29, 2021
SSL Unavailable on Shopify

Written by Michael Trang

Michael Trang is a Managing Partner at SKU Agency - the e-commerce agency focused on growing your business through strategy, technology & design. Michael loves fishing, playing guitar, and learning about the latest & greatest technologies.

The purpose of SSL certificates is to encrypt your store’s content, post it securely through HTTPS instead of HTTP, and improve online security. You’ll know you’re on a website with a functioning SSL certificate when you see the little padlock symbol to the left of the browser. By clicking the padlock, the domain’s security information is confirmed.

Having a secure Shopify store not only inspires confidence in your shoppers, it protects personal information — both yours and theirs. And one of the ways to secure your website and tell the world it’s safe to shop with you is by using a functioning SSL certificate.

But, SSL certificates don’t always work properly. There are times when you may encounter the words “SSL Unavailable” in the backend of your website.

What does that mean, and how do you fix it?

Well, we get that question a lot, so we’re going to answer it here.

We’ll answer a bunch of other common questions, too, so you understand exactly what an SSL is, why you need one, and how to fix it when it’s not working.

How Do SSL Certificates Work?

For starters, let’s break down what SSL is. SSL is an initialism that stands for Secure Sockets Layer, although it is more commonly referred to as Transport Layer Security (TLS) these days.

Websites that use SSL/HTTPS protocols send their SSL certificate information to website users’ browsers. In turn, browsers establish if a certificate is valid or not, and if so, encrypt the data sent from the website, ensuring the transfer is secure.


What Does “SSL Unavailable” Mean?

An “SSL Unavailable” pop-up warning means your connection is not secure.

You may see this error message on your admin page when you first set up a custom domain on Shopify. If you recently set up your custom domain, then don’t fret, as it can take up to 48 hours for Shopify to implement an SSL certificate.

If you did not recently initiate a custom domain for your online store, other issues might be at play.

Check Your Domain Records

If you set up your domain several days ago or longer, you may be getting an SSL Unavailable error message because your domain record settings are not configured correctly.

There are a few things to check to see if this is the case. One problem may be that your A (address) record, which points a domain to an IP address, isn’t pointing to Shopify’s IP address. This is common if you’re using a third-party domain provider.

Your Shopify domain can only use one A record. You may have an unavailable error message if your domain has more than one.

You may also unwittingly have Domain Name System Security Extensions (DNSSEC) enabled on your domain. DNSSEC adds an extra layer of protection to a DNS by using public-key cryptography.

While that may sound good, it actually makes it difficult for applications to ascertain if the environment is safe enough to operate in, which can result in applications failing to connect and not working as expected.

If your store uses Certification Authority Authorization (CAA) records, it may require extra certificate authorities to work with your Shopify domain. This is because the purpose of a CAA is to restrict access to Certification Authorities and minimize security threats.

Shopify does not recommend using CAA records, but if you do choose to use them, each must be authorized by CA groups digicert.com, letsencrypt.org, and globalsign.com.

Also, ensure an AAAA (quad A) record is not attached to your domain. These point to IPv6 addresses, unlike A records that point to IPv4 addresses. Different IP addresses can face issues when trying to connect to AAAA record addresses and will fail if they encounter duplicate definitions, which they handle like a security breach.

If you suspect you have domain record issues that need troubleshooting, you must log in to your Shopify admin account, go to Online Store, select Domains, then click DNS Settings. From there, you can check your A records and security extensions and remove any that are unnecessary.


Why Am I Getting an SSL Error?

Why Am I Getting SSL Unavailable?

You’ll see an SSL Error if there is a security disruption on either the web server or the user browser.

This can result from several issues, such as:

  • The SSL certificate has the wrong information or is untrusted.
  • A firewall or antivirus program is blocking access to the website.
  • The website has insecure information.
  • Browser settings, such as time and date, are incorrect and need to be adjusted.

 

The only thing you can do as host of your online store is to check your SSL certificate settings, which is also under Domains in the Online Store section of your admin control panel.

If you have received messages from people trying to visit your store, you have to solve the error quickly before you lose sales. Conversely, if you’ve only heard of one person trying to access your site but can’t, it may be a security error on their end.

Always double-check your settings just to be sure.


How Do I Enable SSL on Shopify?

All Shopify stores must have SSL certificates in place before they can begin selling. Luckily, Shopify makes it easy for new store owners to implement one.

But there are some things to consider first.

If your store is hosted by a third-party domain and uses an HTTP URL, this can cause security issues when adding an SSL certificate. While HTTP and HTTPS may seem the same (they are both Hypertext Transfer Protocols, after all), HTTP lacks SSL certificates. So HTTP is basically HTTPS without the added layers of security.

While we think it is much easier to have Shopify host your Shopify store, it is entirely your choice which web host you use. But again, Shopify provides store owners free SSL certificates that they can initiate immediately.

If your store is hosted by a third party and operates on an HTTP URL, you must get your domain HTTPS status before you begin your operations. Aforementioned open-source certificate authority sites, like Let’s Encrypt, also provide free SSL certificates.

If you’re creating a custom domain on Shopify, an SSL certificate will be made available automatically. To enable it, simply log into your Shopify admin account, and click Activate SSL Certificates under Domains.

Your Shopify SSL certificates will also work on your subdomains if you have any. Third-party hosting sites may have you take out separate certificates for your domain and subdomains, depending on the host.


How Can I Fix an SSL Connection Error?

There are several ways to fix SSL connection errors, which will depend on what’s causing it in the first place. If you are using a third-party domain provider, start by configuring your DNS settings in your admin account.

There are a few easy things to look for, namely:

  • Your A record should point to Shopify’s IP address, which is 23.227.38.65.
  • Ensure your www CNAME record is pointing to shops.myshopify.com.
  • You can also use DNS Lookup to enter your domain name and see if other records are attached to it that are blocking a secure connection. If so, you can ask your domain provider to remove the records.
  • As a final step, verify your domain is connected to Shopify.

 

If Shopify provides your domain and the troubleshooting tips mentioned earlier do not work, contact Shopify. There may be something going on that they can help you with.

If you work with Shopify Experts like us at SKU Agency, we can go into your domain settings and work our magic to quickly fix SSL connection errors, no matter the cause.

How Long Does “SSL Pending” Take?

As mentioned, if you’ve just opened a new domain, it can take up to 48 hours for the SSL certificate to be issued. During this time, you and other site visitors may see an “SSL Pending” message.

This is another instance in which your domain host plays a major role. If your domain is owned by a third-party host, such as Godaddy or Google Domains, it may take several hours for the DNS records to be sorted and the certificate to activate.

If you’re still seeing this error message after 48 hours, contact Shopify support or your Shopify developers to troubleshoot your issue.


How Long Does It Take to Get an EV SSL Certificate?

An EV SSL certificate is an Extended Validation SSL, which is the highest web security certification available. With an EV SSL certificate, your store can garner a reputation for providing customers with the ultimate secure shopping experience.

All Shopify store owners receive an SSL certification upon starting their store, but only Shopify Plus store owners can implement an EV SSL certification. It’s just another perk of running a Shopify Plus business.

If you use Shopify Plus, you can get an EV SSL certificate on your admin account’s Domains page. You will see an order form to fill out and submit.

Your EV SSL certificate will be verified through GlobalSign, which will confirm your business information and work with Shopify to get your store certificate up and running.

Though it goes through several steps, getting an EV SSL certificate should only take a couple days. And after you have it, your store will have priceless added security layers.

Website visitors will be able to see your EV SSL certification, as your browser will display the padlock, the HTTPS symbol, and your business name and country. This will help your customers feel confident about providing personal details like credit card information on your checkout page when making purchases.


What Happens if You Don’t Have an SSL Certificate?

What if you don't have an SSL certificate?

It’s essential for any website that trades data to have SSL certificates. Without them, you make your shoppers’ personal information vulnerable to theft. You also put your own business’ info at risk of hijacking.

If your customers’ data gets breached once, goodbye trust— they will probably never shop with you again (and understandably).

Shopify is one of many e-commerce platforms that includes SSL certificates with each store opening. That’s how important it is in today’s world, where data breaches are all too common.

As if that wasn’t enough, Google revealed that having an SSL certificate is the best way a website can increase its search engine rankings. Sites with an HTTP domain are actually blocked from using Google Analytics.

Google also alerts Chrome users if they are about to access a website without an SSL certificate to warn them that it is not secure. That’s a pretty quick way to put off potential shoppers!

You don’t have to worry about that happening to your store, of course, because by now, you have an SSL certificate and know how to troubleshoot any errors. And you probably didn’t even realize at the time that your SSL certificate can boost your SEO rankings!

There are many ways to protect your business and your shoppers, and maintaining your SSL certificate is just one of them. For more information on keeping your Shopify store secure, check out Shopify’s SSL best practices.

Learn about how our Shopify SEO services can help drive organic traffic to your website!


Conclusion

“SSL unavailable” and “SSL pending” messages can be confusing and trying. But for the most part, they are harmless and temporary occurrences. They either resolve themselves in a day or two, and you can also easily troubleshoot them yourself with the above tips and tricks.

If you want to ensure the digital security of your shoppers, your investors, and yourself, contact us at SKU Agency. We’re official Shopify Partners who use our deep knowledge of the platform to develop e-commerce stores that exceed expectations and delight shoppers.

And when you join our Shopify Priority Support service, we’ll provide you with a speedy response to any SSL unavailable issues your store may encounter.

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