If your WordPress website fails to load over a secure connection due to an error like ERR_SSL_PROTOCOL_ERROR, you have come to the right place. In this article, we’ll explain what this type of error means and walk you through the steps you need to take to fix it so your site is
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If your WordPress website fails to load over a secure connection due to an error such as ERR_SSL_PROTOCOL_ERROR, you have come to the right place. In this article, we’ll explain what this type of error means and walk you through the steps you need to take to fix it so your site is up and running again!
This error can be caused by a variety of issues with your website’s server or your local computer, or even a combination of both. This is a common experience in Chrome, but may vary depending on the browser used.
In Google Chrome, this error will say ERR_SSL_PROTOCOL_ERROR and indicate that the domain sent an invalid response.
In Microsoft Edge, the message “Cannot connect securely to this page” appears (see below). However, the next part of the error is what is useful. This could be because the site is using outdated or unsafe TLS security settings. If this continues, try contacting the site owner.
In Mozilla Firefox, ERR_SSL_PROTOCOL_ERROR triggers a warning about secure connection failure as shown below. Warning: Potential security risk ahead
8 things to do when you encounter ERR_SSL_PROTOCOL_ERROR:
- Clear SSL state.
- Check the SSL certificate (DNS settings are not yet fully propagated).
- Check the system time and date.
- Clear browser cache and cookies.
- Disable browser extensions.
- Update browsers to the latest version.
- Update your operating system.
- Temporarily disable antivirus and firewall (these software can sometimes incorrectly block a secure connection).
What is a secure connection?
If you’re wondering what a web page is loading over a secure connection, some background information might help.
You may have noticed that website addresses usually start with HTTP or HTTPS. These are protocols that consist of a set of rules for determining how web pages are transmitted from the server (where your website is located) to the browser. HTTPS is a secure protocol based on HTTP and widely used because it has many advantages, including SEO optimization and a high level of security.
The downside of using HTTPS is that there are strict rules that must be followed before you can view a secure webpage. This means that there is more risk of possible error compared to unsecured HTTP connections.
One of the requirements for a website to work with an HTTPS connection is that a valid SSL certificate must be installed and configured correctly.
When your SSL certificate is working properly, a padlock icon is displayed next to the website address in the browser window. If you click on the padlock, a pop-up window displays a confirmation notice that the website has been loaded over a secure connection and information sent to the server from your website (e.g. form submission) are also transmitted securely.
Most website visitors these days expect site-wide HTTPS connections. Gone are the days when the only secure pages on your site were limited to specific areas such as admin, login, and shopping cart.
Traditionally, it was considered unnecessary (and overkill) to use a secure site-wide connection due to the prohibitive expense of SSL certificates. All that has now changed with the immediate availability of free SSL certificates. HTTPS has therefore become common practice.
Take stock of your site
Before we take a look at some of the possible underlying root causes of ERR_SSL_PROTOCOL_ERROR, it would be helpful if you took a moment to review any recent changes to your site.
Usually once you have a secure connection in place, it’s pretty stable. And most of the time problems arise when something has been changed, server-side for existing websites, or during the initial setup of your site.
Have you recently changed hosts or tried to install a new SSL certificate? This is the most common reason for this error. Being aware of recent changes to the site can give you a good idea of what could be causing the secure connection issue.
Solutions to ERR_SSL_PROTOCOL_ERROR
Work through the solutions in the following sections one by one until your secure connection error is fixed.
This type of error can occur locally or on the server. So some of the steps deal with your local computer/browser settings, while others deal with issues related to server configuration and SSL certificate configuration.
Clear SSL state
The first thing to do is clear the SSL status in Chrome. The browser stores SSL certificates in a cache to speed up subsequent connections once the initial secure connection has been established with a website.
This is to optimize page load times, otherwise each HTTPS request would require the SSL certificate to be downloaded and authenticated, which would not be very good for performance.
After propagating DNS settings and accessing the site through a browser over a secure connection, the error can sometimes be displayed due to the browser cache storing an outdated version of the SSL certificate.
To fix this, try clearing the SSL state cache. When done, restart your browser and try connecting to your website again.
Check SSL certificate
A similar problem occurs when an SSL certificate is generated but the DNS settings are not yet fully propagated. In this case, the SSL certificate will not be associated with the correct domain at creation time.
You can also perform a site-wide scan with an online SSL checker tool to verify that your SSL certificate is not causing any issues. This type of check is quite reliable and bypasses your browser’s cache to determine if the certificate is valid.
Check system time and date
If the SSL certificate is valid and clearing the SSL state isn’t working, it’s time to look at your local computer to identify the source of your ERR_SSL_PROTOCOL_ERROR.
First, check if the operating system time and date are set correctly, otherwise your SSL certificate may have authentication problems.
This is because SSL certificates have a fixed expiration date, and if the time and date on your current system is not correct, it may conflict with the authentication process.
A valid time and date is always assumed when a secure connection is established. This is why it is important to ensure that the correct value is retrieved from your local system.
To check the time and date in Windows 10, press the Windows + X keys and select System from the context menu. This will bring up the Settings window.
In the Find a setting text box, start typing “time”, then select Change date and time from the drop-down options. Then, in the Date and Time Settings window, verify that the time and date are correct before continuing.
On macOS, click the Apple icon in the upper left corner of the screen, select System Preferences from the drop-down menu, then select Date and time in the list.
You can then update your system time if necessary.
Clear browser cache and cookies
You can also try clearing your browser’s cache if it’s been a while since it was last cleared. We also recommend that you delete cookies from your browser, but remember that for sites you are currently logged in to, you will need to log in again on your next visit.
Disable browser extensions
If multiple browser extensions are enabled, this could potentially be the source of the error. Temporarily disable browser extensions, one at a time, to see if there is one that is causing problems with HTTPS requests.
To disable Chrome extensions, click on the three-dot icon located at the top right of the browser window, then select More tools> Extensions in the context menu.
Toggle all enabled browser extensions one at a time to disable them, visiting your site between each one. If an extension seems to be causing the ERR_SSL_PROTOCOL_ERROR problem, remove it or leave it disabled until you can find more information about the nature of the error.
If no update is available to fix the problem, it’s probably best to remove the extension completely.
Update browsers to the latest version
The last browser-related step is to update Chrome to its latest version.
Running older versions of a browser increases the risk of secure connection issues such as ERR_SSL_PROTOCOL_ERROR.
New and updated security features are always being added to modern browsers and bugs fixed regularly. Keeping information up to date is best practice.
The Chrome browser makes this task easier because it automatically checks for updates each time you launch the software. However, if you still keep browser tabs open, you have to remember to restart. the browser from time to time to trigger update checks.
Update your operating system
Keeping your operating system up to date is also important, especially if it has been some time since the last update.
If automatic updates are enabled for Windows 10, you don’t have to worry so much. However, not all operating systems automatically apply updates, so it is worth checking to see if they are available for your operating system.
On macOS, click the Apple icon and select About This Mac, which will open a tabbed window.
If a system update is available, you will see a Software Update button. Click here to install the latest updates. You can also check for macOS updates through the App Store, just like any other app.
If you’re dealing with a lengthy OS update, you might just want to restart your computer before running it as a quick workaround. This is much faster than installing full OS updates and could potentially fix the secure connection issue.
Temporarily disable antivirus and firewall
It is very important to have active antivirus and firewall software on your system. These tools effectively protect you from all sorts of online security issues.
As part of this protection, your antivirus software typically checks for problems with HTTPS connections to make sure nothing unexpected happens. Sometimes, however, software can incorrectly block a secure connection when it shouldn’t.
To verify that this is not the case, temporarily disable it and check your website again. If necessary, also disable your firewall and check your website again.
Remember to always re-enable your anti-virus software and firewall as soon as possible, as you don’t want to leave your system unprotected.
Check server log for error messages
If you’ve reached this point and still haven’t resolved the ERR_SSL_PROTOCOL_ERROR issue, things may be a bit more complicated than we initially thought.
To help you identify general website problems, including connection errors, it can often be helpful to check your server log and see recent activity. This might help to better understand the cause of the problem. Server log
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