Let's encrypt on a private apache webserver

Dear all,

I’m running a private webserver which is not on a public domain.
I can reach it via no-ip service and a port forwarding.

Is there any setting that point to my server?

If I’ll configure a local DNS (as well with no-ip and port forwarding) will it make it work?

I’m running an Ubuntu 16.04 server with Apache 2.4.18


If this is a private webserver, not on the public domain, why do you want a public SSL cert rather than a self signed cert ?

Is your server available (through the port forwarding ) on port 80 or 443 ? You would need a public domain name though, and public DNS - it’s can’t be done on a private domain name.

With a public domain name, you could also use the DNS-01 challenge which doesn’t need access via port 80 or 443.

The server is private but mainly accessed from remote/outside the private network.

I found references on let’s encrypt on a tutorial to build a cloud server again namely available from remote via port forwarding and this is why I’m here

By the time I’m writing this post I’m also working on a self signed cert

for port forwarding I can’t use 80 (router issue) and I can use 443

Thanks, that makes sense.

If you look at the documentation and search for "tls-sni-01" that will give you the options for verifying on port 443.

With apache you should be able to use

certbot --apache --preferred-challenges ""tls-sni-01"

if you have a relatively standard apache setup ( or you could use standalone method, but you would need to stop your current apache server for that ) .

Thanks @serverco!

I’ll take some time to check the documentation.

being an DIY administrator I hope to get enough and easy information to move forward


The more information you can provide, the more accurately we can help provide information to help you set everything up.

the situation is simple (at least as I see it)

  1. local server with apache and few virtual hosts. No DNS service installed at the moment
  2. router which allow port forwaring (8100 -> 80 http, 443 -> 443 https). access through port 443 under study
  3. no-ip service which allows me to reach the router. the DSL has a dynamic IP

At the moment I have full access to the webserver and I’m looking how to improve it with SSL

If you need more information please advise because I can’t see whatelse you might need


That info is fine - as long as you don’t have a control panel, and you have the each virtual host file for each domain (rather than one file containing all the virtual hosts).

The command earlier should work, alternatively you can use a DNS challenge (which requires you to add a given token into your DNS, rather than via https on port 443).

quick question: I’ve set up a self signed cert which I can see to work when I connect to the server via ssh and brows with lynx.

When I connect remotely via browser, the apache server redirect from http://my_server.no-ip.com:xxx/virtual_host -> https://local_domain.com/virtual_host which doesn’t work obviously

I don’t know if this will happen also with the option u gave me. If yes, do you know if there is a way not to redirect the site?


when you say “local_domain.com” is this a public domain name that you have registered and own ? or is this just a local domain name you have created yourself ?

Let’s Encypt will only issue certificates for public domain names that it can verify.

with http://my_server.no-ip.com:xxx it sounds like you have a URL redirect set up, rather than DNS pointing to your domain name, which won’t easily work in this setup (although you are only redirecting http not https so should be OK).

Personally I’d set up dynamic DNS (I’m assuming you aren’t on a static IP) for your domain name. You do need a real domain name though ( which you can always get for free if that’s an issue). Then you will no longer have the redirect

I’ll try to make it more clear, sorry.

local_domain.com: il mio hostname in locale (intranet, home server linux which I’m setting up)

http://my_server.no-ip.com:xxx: no-ip.com offer a free dynamic DNS name like dyn.com or openDNS.com. This is the address of my private webserver from outside the intranet, remote access

virtual_host: this will be the name of the forum or cloud as specified in the virtual_hosts file of apache

in other terms, if:
forum.no-ip.com is the dynamic dns name provided by no-ip.com
8100 port to forward to my webserver (intranet, home webserver)
forum is the web site as installed using virtual_hosts in apache2

to access the forum from outside the intranet I’ll write on the browser addtress:

http://…: I need to verify if the free service allow an https connection (make it sense as question?!)


I think this would be easier to understand / explain if you used your real domain names.

You are connecting ( in your example ) to http://forum.no-ip.com:8100/forum - as that is http it does not use an SSL certificate.

From what you said above this redirects to “https://local_domain.com/virtual_host” does it redirect so that’s what you see in the browser ? or does the browser still show “http://my_server.no-ip.com:xxx” ?

i serverco,

sorry for my absence. I stopped checking let’s encrypt now for some time untill I’ll have a new modem/router which will allow to use 443 incoming port

I’m also trying to figure out where this problem is part of web server configuration or DNS config.

I don-t know if the next question has a simple answer. if not I’ll work it out.

The question:
no-ip.com configure a dynamic DNS service to find my server (in this case forum.no-ip.com) but I don’t owe the address (no FQDN, I think) nor I have access to this configuration. can I still use let’s encrypt or I need a FQDN for it?


I think the no-ip.com names are FQDNs (they're publicly-resolvable unique names, right?). Do you somehow share that name with someone else? Do you only have use of particular forwarded ports on that host or something?

The problem you might have with their service is that if they don't have a rate limit exemption, lots of people will be trying to get certs under that domain and will tend to hit a Let's Encrypt rate limit.

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