When supporting multiple Brands -- or multiple divisions within a company -- on Hosted SmarterTrack it's generally a good idea to use custom domains for each
. For example, you can use support.your-brand.com, support.your-other-brand.com, help.yet-another-brand.com and more.
When you add a custom domain to your account, SmarterTools automatically creates an SSL certificate for each, installs it for the custom domain and manages the renewal of the cert. That means you don't need to purchase your own SSL certificate for use on our servers! (As an aside, SmarterTools leverages Let's Encrypt
for the automated SSL process, and SSL certificates are renewed every 60 days.)
Even though we take care of all of this for you, customers can encounter occasional issues with SSL. Generally, these issues occur at the very beginning of the process, when custom domains are added and getting set up. Below are a few things you can do to ensure the use of your custom domain and the implementation of the SSL certificate goes smoothly.
- Create your CNAME in DNS before you add your custom domain. Adding your CNAME first means that the DNS change can begin propagating, which ensures that once you DO add the custom domain to your account, and SmarterTools makes the necessary adjustments in IIS for your site, the custom domain will be ready to use relatively quickly. DNS propagation these days can take a very short time, but there still may be a delay before your custom domain is active. Therefore, adding it to your DNS first helps shorten that delay.
- Set an appropriate "Time To Live" (TTL) for the CNAME. Setting the TTL for your CNAME to a higher value can increase the delay in when the DNS change propagates throughout the web. A shorter TTL means that change will propagate faster. You can even set the TTL for your CNAME to a lower value initially, then raise it once the propagation takes effect.
- Make sure your CNAME is created properly. Misspellings, incorrect values, poor formatting and more can impact the availability of your new record. Therefore, make sure it's set up and conforms to the structure that's appropriate to your DNS provider. Each DNS provider has their own way of setting up DNS records, so be sure to review any help articles or documentation before you make any change. If you're using a managed DNS service, they can set up the record for you.
The above issues will help you avoid possible issues when you're first getting started, but what about if you encounter SSL issues after you've been running your Hosted SmarterTrack site for awhile? Well, there are a cople of things you can do.
Use Your Alternate URL
Well, in addition to issuing SSL certificates for custom domains, SmarterTools always offers an SSL certificate for our *.smartertrack.com domain.
If you weren't aware, when your site was set up it was initially set up using a "name.smartertrack.com" domain. That's because, when you signed up for your Hosted SmarterTrack site, you were asked to enter a name for your site:
We then created that in IIS for you, along with your SmarterTrack installation. Then you had the option of adding custom domains through your SmarterTools account that point to your hosted site. So, if you're having issues accessing, for example, https://support.my-custom-domain.com, you can access it via https://my-custom-domain.smartertrack.com. (Where "my-custom-domain" is what you used to name your site when you signed up.)
Disable Forced HTTPS
When each hosted site is set up, it's set up to force all traffic over SSL by default. The good news is, this is actually a setting within SmarterTrack that is enabled by default, but can be disabled by a system administrator.
So, if you're having issues accessing your custom domain over SSL, you can always use the above method (going to your *.smartertrack.com site) and logging in as a system administrator, then disabling the forced SSL setting. To do this, do the following:
- Go to your *.smartertrack.com domain.
- Log in as a system administrator.
- Go to Settings > Security.
- On the Options tab, under the Security header, look for "Force all traffic over HTTPS".
- Toggle the setting off.
- Save your changes.
That will enable you to access your site over standard HTTP.
Send Us a Ticket
As a Hosted SmarterTrack customer, you have access to our support team completely free of charge. So, the issues don't fix themselves -- or if you just want help -- feel free to submit a ticket to us through your SmarterTools.com