My certificates are not renewing automatically

Please fill out the fields below so we can help you better. Note: you must provide your domain name to get help. Domain names for issued certificates are all made public in Certificate Transparency logs (e.g., so withholding your domain name here does not increase secrecy, but only makes it harder for us to provide help.

My domain is:, and

I ran this command:

It produced this output:

My web server is (include version): nginx

The operating system my web server runs on is (include version): ubuntu

My hosting provider, if applicable, is: Digital Ocean

I can login to a root shell on my machine (yes or no, or I don’t know): yes

I’m using a control panel to manage my site (no, or provide the name and version of the control panel):

I did not do the setup. The ghost cli installer for the ghost blogging platform did it. So, it should work, but it might be broken.

How do I tell if my renewal has happened? It must not have or why would I be getting the warning email?

The simple solution is to check the current active cert. (You can easily use SSL Labs for that.)
A more in depth look would be to find the latest cert on the system and check the issued date. (Manual and technical - by nature.)

That assumption is not based on all the facts.
A "warning email" is only associated with the exact cert mentioned.
A site can generate several additional certs during the lifespan of the earliest unexpired cert - for various reasons. There is no way to know which cert(s) are being used and which are no longer in use. The warning message is simply to inform you so that you can look into the matter.
Your current site cert shows an expiration of 2018/12/12:

Hi @lewisl

checking your certificates:;include_subdomains:false;

There are three active certificates: Let's Encrypt Authority X3 2 01.09.2018 30.11.2018 3 Details ansehen Let's Encrypt Authority X3 1 11.08.2018 09.11.2018 3 Details ansehen Let's Encrypt Authority X3 3 14.09.2018 12.12.2018 3 Details ansehen

one only with, one with + and one with the additional www.

You are using the last, valid 2018-12-12.

So your certificate with only one domain name is not renewed and expires in less then 20 days -> that produces the mail.

You don't use this certificate -> so ignore the mail.

Great. Thanks. Looking at all the posts, you could get rid of all the newbie questions like mine with a newbie tool.

Write a simple command line tool that can run on Linux, Mac, or the Linux on Windows thing. It has a simple ini file. In the ini file you just enter the names of domains. Run the tool locally and it goes out and returns the detailed information the google tool returns.

80%+ of the simple questions go away.

If you want to get fancy, enable it to do some very simple, secure, and basic maintenance tasks.

Sure, it perpetuates stupidity but so do all the good cookbook solutions you offer. The problem will not go away.

People do not want:

  1. to be linux sysadmins
  2. to overpay for proprietary solutions like Squarespace or Ghost hosting

People want:

  1. to be properly secure and private
  2. to develop their business, content, hobby, job–the things they need to do, unlike the “do not want” list above

It’s not that people are stupid; it’s that they want to focus on where they are smart.

Let’s Encrypt is great; I donated. It’s a lot of work for you. Just consider this suggestion and, of course, put on your own thinking caps and reason about, “how can we get ahead of this and help more people, more easily, with less work, and more satisfaction all around?” You will definitely come up with something.

1 Like

Why should someone write such a tool?

  • The browser does the same. Changing the ini or searching via browser - no difference
  • I don't think that Google would be happy if there is an automated scraper tool

So I would not write such a tool.

How does the browser do this?

Keep things hard then and expend time and energy answering questions that good self-service would eliminate.

Typical “smarter-than-you” open source answer.

I’m confused…
Let’s say a “tool” did exist.
How would end-users even know it exists?
How would they “just use it” without still coming here first to get their questions answered?

Maybe sending them a link to an “online tool” in the expiration email could direct them to that “more automated” help…
But the questions that come here should, in time, find previous matching answer(s) - so this should not be a never ending task.
You search.
You find.
You apply.
You move on.

Instead editing an ini-file use


or another Certificate Transparency - Search Engine. There is no reason to create a new offline tool with the same function.

Never mind.

The first time someone came, you’d say—here is the link to this easy maintenance and setup tool.

There is also a Let’s Encrypt web site: that’s where you’d download it from.

You could also just do a tool that ran on the host machine, which is invariably Linux—so that simplifies things quite a bit. Ghost has a cmd line tool that must be run on the target host. It’s better than a script and can do some config auditing, but it does “break” pretty often in not being able to sort out a config—still it is more robust than a bash script by quite a lot. For query only a similar tool would could be local—a sort of narrow version of ansible to do only one thing. If there were a host side to the tool then there could be an api at the server maintenance tool that the “local” client could talk to.

It was only a suggestion to make things easier; perhaps that is simply not a goal. You must see the same questions over and over—much of the time. There will always be harder questions and variations of config that are not so standard—so there will always be demand for the forum. It’s clear you don’t want to do this. Esoteric knowledge preserves a Linux hacker’s sense of superiority. I don’t find that satisfying at all; some people inevitably do.

FYI there is such a local tool:

But really, the problem is that the warning email is misleading/being misinterpreted/is user-unfriendly, no?

So perhaps the actual solution is to amend the wording in the email to indicate that the “real expiry” can be checked by with a couple of clicks on the certificate details in-browser, along with a link to some screenshots on how to do that.

You don’t introduce more tools to fix a basic communication problem.

Sure: a link in the email solves this particular issue and it’s a common issue. And easy to do.

The tool doesn’t quite work. The MacOs compatibility line needed to be changed from: _date=gdate to: _date=date

It didn’t produce output that made sense compared to ssllabs or the google site. Something probably wrong with date parsing. Here is the output:

I have found 6 non expired certificates (3 final certs and 3 pre certs) (max number of certs searched: 100) for domain and its subdomains *

DOMAIN (CN)       

812974912  Final cert        
-17834 days                            

774560719  Final cert        
-17834 days                            

766665836  Final cert 
-17834 days                            

743810197  Pre cert        
-17834 days                            

703187621  Pre cert        
-17834 days                            

674012320  Pre cert 
-17834 days                           

The broader suggestion was to cover some broader list: how do I renew? I changed my domain name… How do I delete my old unused certs? How do I verify automatic renewal? There are a handful of these that recur. And there is no way to do everything. It would be a nice start to just do a setup for a base domain, with some subdomains using a very standard config for perhaps the 3 most popular web servers. Then, if a person used this “standard” setup, the tool could do maintenance only for this restrictive case. Probably would cover a lot of folks who just want certs for blogs and websites built with very popular frameworks (OK—I am wandering into dangerous territory….). I think the frameworks might not matter—only the webserver.

Let’s Encrypt and certbot are great. Clearly the way to go for self-administered small sites (and maybe big commercial sites, too….?). It would be nice to really simplify even beyond what certbot does. But, that would be a non-trivial effort. EFF would really want to get behind that.

Let’s just drop it. I thought I made a friendly suggestion. The first response I got from one the community maintainers was pretty unfriendly and really unrepresentative of what a good job people here consistently do. I got a fast and useful response to my original question. That’s at least one question I won’t ask again. It’s really important in this era of hacking, security breaches, non-state criminality, and probably state actors also not always acting benignly that we make strong internet security/privacy widespread, easy to deploy, and reliable. Let’s Encrypt is really doing a great service to the larger goal. I donated to EFF in support of it. I am glad you are here.

Hi @lewisl,

No, you should not change it, lectl tool needs GNU commands date and sed (gdate and gsed), take a look to this post to know how to install them in your OS.


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