There are several errors you could run into while navigating the web, including HTTP error codes, issues with certificates, and connection problems. A lot of times, fixing these errors will require a bit of troubleshooting on your end. The “Your connection is not private” error is no exception.
This error usually (but not always) is due to an issue with the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate. There are several ways to troubleshoot, depending on whether it originates from your website or your server.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at this connection error and discuss its main causes. We’ll then show you how to troubleshoot depending on its cause.
What is the “Your connection is not private” error?
In a nutshell, the message means that there’s an error with the SSL certificate for the website that you’re attempting to visit or that it doesn’t have one at all. Because of the push for a more secure browsing experience, most reputable sites have SSL certificates — especially if they conduct any sort of online commerce. So, in most cases, the “Your connection is not private” error is caused by an expired certificate.
Here’s what the error looks like in Google Chrome:
Here are a few other reasons that your browser might not be able to establish a private connection with a website:
- The date on your computer is wrong.
- You’re using antivirus software with a firewall.
- There’s outdated information in your browser’s SSL state.
- You’re using a public wifi network.
Often, it can be difficult to troubleshoot this particular error due to the number of potential causes. The error message also changes depending on which browser you’re using. Here’s what the “Your connection is not private” error looks like in Firefox:
The “Your connection is not private” error can be particularly scary, as browsers make sure to let you know that unsafe connections can lead to stolen data. If you see this error message, don’t worry — your data is safe unless you choose to ignore the warning and browse the website anyways.
Some browsers allow you to ignore the “Your connection is not private” error and let you proceed to the website. In some cases, this might not be an issue since the error can appear due to misconfigurations on your end.
If there’s a true issue, there are definite risks you want to avoid. So we recommend that you try and troubleshoot the error. If you’re seeing this message on someone else’s website, simply clearing your cache can do the trick.
If there’s a true problem with the site’s SSL certificate (or it doesn’t have one at all), there’s not much you can do about it. The error will eventually disappear when the owner of the site renews the certificate.
On the other hand, if this error is blocking access to your own website, you’ll need to learn how to fix it. Fortunately, the process is not as difficult as you might think.
How to fix the “Your connection is not private” error in WordPress (for website owners)
If you’ve come across the “Your connection is not private” error on your WordPress site, the problem might be with your site or the server. Let’s walk through the main approaches for troubleshooting this error.
1. Get an SSL certificate for your website
If you don’t have an SSL certificate yet, now’s the perfect time to get one. Your website might be trying to load over HTTPs, but without an SSL certificate, you’ll run into errors such as “Your connection is not private” (because it’s not!).
Getting an SSL certificate is remarkably simple. In fact, a lot of web hosts offer to set up free certificates for you, depending on your plan. Therefore, you might want to check what plan you’re using and what features it includes.
If an SSL certificate is included in your plan, you should be able to set it up from your hosting control panel. Depending on your provider, you might need to check their documentation for installing your free SSL certificate.
You can also get a free SSL certificate using a service such as Let’s Encrypt.
You’ll need access to the server command line in order to generate, install, and validate the certificate. The process might sound intimidating, but it’s actually very simple.
Once you install an SSL certificate, you’ll want to configure WordPress so your website loads over HTTPS. If users attempt to access the site via HTTP, they might run into privacy errors. We’ll show you how to do that in the next step.
2. Use a WordPress SSL plugin
After you install an SSL certificate, you need to configure WordPress to always load over HTTPS. There are two ways to do so: you can either tweak the WordPress .htaccess file or use an SSL plugin.
Really Simple SSL is one good plugin option, and it really lives up to its name.
This tool will detect if your site has an SSL certificate, and force it to load over HTTPS. Once you install and activate the plugin, go to Settings → SSL. Look for the option that says Activate SSL and click on it.
That’s it! By configuring your site to load over HTTPS, the “Your connection is not private” error should disappear. If it doesn’t, then the problem might have something to do with the certificate’s expiration date.
3. Check your SSL certificate
Checking an SSL certificate to see if it’s still valid is a simple process. If you obtained the certificate through your web host, you should be able to check its information from the provider’s control panel.
If you’re using shared hosting, you probably have access to a cPanel. In that case, log into your account and navigate to Security → SSL/TLS Status in the panel.
On the next screen, find the option that says Generate, view, upload, or delete SSL certificates.
Click on that option and you’ll see a page that enables you to add custom SSL certificates for your website. You’ll also see a list of all installed certificates on your server.
If you went through the previous steps, there should be at least one certificate in that list. You can see the expiration date for every certificate on the server. If you’re past that date, you’ll need to renew the certificate (we’ll show you how in the next section).
Depending on your web host, you might not have access to SSL information through the control panel. If that’s the case, you can use free online tools such as DNS Checker to see whether your website has a valid SSL certificate.
Enter your site’s URL and click on Check SSL Certificate. The service will pull all available information about the certificate (it’s all public record), including its expiration date.
4. Renew your website’s SSL certificate
SSL certificates have expiration dates, so you’ll need to renew them periodically. That, in turn, increases the level of security that they offer since they require you to validate website ownership.
Renewing an SSL certificate isn’t difficult. Some domain registrars and certificate authorities enable you to auto-renew specific types of certificates. This means the certificate will renew well before it expires so that it doesn’t cause privacy errors for site visitors.
If the auto renew option is available, we recommend that you use it. The alternative is to remember to renew certificates manually, which often requires you to wait until 30 days before they expire.
What to do if you run into the “Your connection is not private” error as a user
In this section, we’ll show you how to troubleshoot the “Your connection is not private” error as a website visitor.
1. Check your internet connection (if you’re using a public network)
Sometimes, public wifi networks require you to go through a signup process or a login screen before you can use them. You might be able to connect to the network, but you won’t be able to browse the web until you follow the steps they lay out for you.
If you’re using a public wifi network, try accessing a website that doesn’t use HTTPS. Depending on how the network is configured, it may load a login page instead.
You’ll then need to follow the instructions given by the provider. Some public networks require specific credentials that you can only get if you’re a customer in an establishment. Others will simply ask you to register before you can access the web.
If you don’t run into a login screen when visiting a site over HTTP, you can assume the public wifi network isn’t the problem. In that case, it’s time to look at your own device’s settings.
2. Update your device’s clock
When you visit a website over HTTPS, your browser validates that site’s SSL certificate. This process requires your browser and the website to exchange data and validate its authenticity. If your computer’s clock isn’t accurate, the entire process can fail and you’ll run into a “Your connection is not private” error.
When your browser validates an SSL certificate, the data that it receives includes a specific time period during which it remains valid. If your device’s clock is off, it might not be able to validate that information due to the mismatch.
The simple solution to that problem is to confirm that your computer or mobile device’s clock is displaying the right time. If you’re using Windows, you can right-click on the clock in your task tray and select the Adjust date/time option.
In the window that opens, check to see if the Set time automatically option is turned on. If it is, Windows should automatically synchronize the time based on which time zone you’re in. To play it safe, make sure that your Operating System (OS) is using the correct timezone before closing the window.
Disabling the automatic time sync functionality that Windows offers can lead to several issues, including the “Your connection is not private” error. In that scenario, you would need to enter the time and date manually. This often means that it won’t be accurate down to the second.
For macOS users, you can update the date and time on your device by following these instructions:
- Open the System Preferences menu.
- Select the Date & Time option.
- Enable the Set date & time automatically setting.
- Ensure that you’re using the correct time zone.
The process is pretty much identical with most operating systems. Once you make sure that the date and time are accurate, check to see if the error persists. If it does, you’ll need to clear your browser’s cache and SSL state.
3. Clear your browser cache
Clearing the browser cache should be one of the first things you do whenever you can’t load a website or you run into an error. Modern browsers cache data from websites so you don’t have to reload them in their entirety each time you visit them. Sometimes, that data can conflict with updated versions of the site, which could lead to error messages like “Your connection is not private.”
The method you use for clearing your browser cache will depend on the software. If you’re using Chrome, you need to open the Settings menu and select the Privacy and security → Clear browsing data options.
Chrome will ask you what data you want to wipe clean. The browser enables you to clear your history, cookies, and cached images and files. You only need to select the Cached images and files option.
Click on Clear data and you’re good to go. Try reloading the website that displayed the “Your connection is not private” error and check if it persists. If it does, the browser cache wasn’t the root of the issue.
If you’re using Firefox, you can clear the browser cache by opening the Settings menu and navigating to Privacy & Security. Then, scroll down to the Cookies and Site Data settings and select the Clear Data… option.
A window will pop up, asking you to select what data you want to remove. You only need to tick the Cached Web Content option.
If you need instructions on how to clear the cache for other browsers, check out the following guides:
- How to clear the cache in Safari
- How to clear the cache in Edge
We recommend that you memorize this process for your browser. Clearing the cache is a simple troubleshooting approach that will help you resolve a lot of the errors that come up when you browse the web.
4. Clear your device’s SSL state
Sometimes, your computer will store SSL information locally, similar to the way that your browser caches website data. Instead of a cache, though, this is called the SSL “state.” If the information in the state is out of sync with an updated SSL certificate, it can lead to the “Your connection is not private” error.
Depending on your OS, you should be able to clear the SSL state quite easily. To do so in Windows, open the Start menu and type in Internet Options.
Then, select the option that comes up — a new Internet Properties window will pop up. Navigate to the Content tab and look for the Clear SSL state option near the top of the window.
Select that option and that’s it. Now, try to reload the website to see if the “Your connection is not private” error continues to appear.
The process for clearing the SSL state is a bit more involved if you’re using macOS. The OS will ask you to delete each certificate that it stores manually, instead of offering an option for clearing the entire state at once.
To avoid confusion, we recommend that you look specifically for the SSL certificate that corresponds to your website, rather than deleting multiple entries. Once you clear that SSL certificate, go ahead and reload the website.
5. Disable your firewall and antivirus program
It’s not uncommon for antivirus software to block connections to SSL certificates. This doesn’t mean that your website’s SSL certificate isn’t valid, though. It could simply indicate that there’s an issue with the antivirus and its firewall functionality.
To rule out the firewall as the culprit behind the error, you’ll need to temporarily disable it and check to see if that allows you to access the website. There are different ways to disable the firewall, depending on whether you’re using a built-in OS tool or an antivirus software that includes it as a feature.
In Windows, you can disable the OS firewall by opening the Start menu and typing in Windows Defender Firewall. Then, select the Turn Windows Defender Firewall on or off option using the menu to the left.
In the next screen, tick the option that says Turn off Windows Defender Firewall (not recommended) under the Private network settings section.
Turning off the system firewall should only be a temporary measure. If the error disappears after you disable the firewall, you’ll need to update its settings to ensure that it’s not blocking specific certificates.
On that same note, we advise against disabling the firewall for public networks. Your private information becomes far more vulnerable when you’re using public internet. Therefore, it’s essential that you don’t expose yourself even further by disabling the system firewall.
If you’re not using Windows, you’ll need to look up instructions for how to disable specific antiviruses and their firewall options. Here’s how to disable the firewall on macOS if that’s what you’re using.
Frequently asked questions about the “Your connection is not private” error
Let’s take a look at some of the most common queries about the “Your connection is not private” error.
What does the “Your connection is not private” error mean?
The “Your connection is not private” error means that your browser is unable to connect to a specific website via HTTPS. In a lot of cases, that’s due to an invalid SSL certificate or a problem with your system’s configuration.
Will restarting my router help fix the error?
In most cases, the “Your connection is not private” error has little to do with your network settings. Therefore, restarting the router may not help you resolve the issue.
Does the “Your connection is not private” error mean that my certificate expired?
This error doesn’t necessarily mean that your SSL certificate has expired, although that is one potential cause. To be sure, you can check your certificate’s expiration date through the authority that issued it. Often, that information will also be available in emails that you received during the SSL registration process.
Should I access websites that display the “Your connection is not private” message?
We recommend against accessing websites that display the “Your connection is not private” error, unless you’re 100 percent sure that the problem is due to a misconfiguration within your system. Even if that’s the case, you’re better off troubleshooting the problem instead of bypassing the error message.
Browsers will warn you against accessing websites when they can’t validate SSL certificates, because it means the website might be compromised in some way. If you send sensitive information through a website that displays this error, the data isn’t transferring via secure protocol.
Should I configure my browser not to check SSL certificates?
Some browsers, like Chrome and Firefox, include options for not checking SSL certificates while you browse the web. This feature is a tool designed for web developers and for troubleshooting purposes. Since SSL certificates and the HTTPS protocol make navigating the web a much more secure experience, you should never ignore them altogether.
If you run into the “Your connection is not private” error, your best bet is to troubleshoot by using the methods that we outlined earlier. Disabling SSL certificate checks might allow you to access the website more easily, but it also means that your data could be compromised.
Should I update my OS or restart my computer?
Updating your operating system shouldn’t have any impact on the “Your connection is not private” error. Having said that, we never recommend using an outdated version of Windows, macOS, or your Linux distro. If you are, go ahead and update it as soon as possible.
Likewise, restarting your computer won’t fix the “Your connection is not private” error unless you make a configuration change that requires a reboot.
Keep your user data secure
SSL certificates are a must as they help you keep your visitors’ data safe. Using HTTPS can also be beneficial from a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) standpoint. Unfortunately, it can sometimes lead to errors if you forget to renew your SSL certificate or encounter another issue.
If you have a WordPress website, we recommend that you use a web host that offers automatic SSL certificate setup and renewal. That way, you’ll never need to worry about expired certificates.
If you want to increase your website’s security and keep user data safe, setting up an SSL certificate isn’t all that you can do. You can also use a WordPress security plugin that offers automatic backups, security scans, spam protection, and a web application firewall (WAF). All of these features are available if you sign up for Jetpack.
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