Allow Let’s Encrypt to Bypass HTTP Auth

The story is a common one, you or your client wants to have a site protected by password. But you also want it to be secured with a Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate. The Certificate was easy to provision when you first set up the website. But then you added basic HTTP authentication or IP restrictions to your htaccess file. Now Let’s Encrypt can no longer connect to your site to renew the ssl cert. So how can we allow Let’s Encrypt to bypass HTTP auth and issue your cert?

The following method will work for either IP or basic authentication settings.

How to Allow Let’s Encrypt to Bypass HTTP Auth

Let’s Encrypt needs to access the hidden folder called .well-known contained within your document root. Typically your authentication settings or IP restrictions are in the htaccess file in your document root. This establishes the rules for all child folders. But by default htaccess files found inside child folders can override the parent settings.

By adding a htaccess file in your .well-known directory you can allow Let’s Encrypt to bypass HTTP auth security. Your htaccess file should contain the following:

Order allow,deny
Allow from all
Satisfy Any

These directives tell the web server to allow traffic from any source to access that directory and all child folders.

Thanks to these sites for guiding me to this solution in my own search. You can find their write-ups here and here.

HTTPS Redirect Breaks Let’s Encrypt Renewal

One other issue I have run into that causes problems with the renewal process is your sites HTTPS redirect. In some instances once you add your redirect rule to force all traffic to use https, this can break your Let’s Encrypt Renewal process. And no longer allow the Let’s Encrypt Certbot to validate your site.

Making a slight change to your rewriterule can fix your problem. Your initial rule may have looked something like this:

# Redirection to HTTPS
 RewriteCond %{SERVER_PORT} ^80$ [OR]
 RewriteCond %{HTTPS} =off
 RewriteRule ^(.*)$$1 [R=301,L]

That rule checks for traffic coming in on port 80 or that does not use https and then redirects all of it to the https version of your site.

# Redirection to HTTPS
 RewriteCond %{SERVER_PORT} ^80$ [OR]
 RewriteCond %{HTTPS} =off
 RewriteRule ^(?!/.well-known(?:$|/)).*$0 [R=301,L]

By adding this change to the Rewriterule line we have told the server to redirect all traffic that does not start with “/.well-known”. So anything under that directory (Let’s Encrypt) are not redirected to HTTPS.

Thanks to this site for posting their fix so I could find it.

Redirect Only the Root URL Path for Nginx and Apache

A client of mine has a website that was once their primary website. They had about 70+ gigabytes of files for webinars, lectures and ebooks for download on the site. But over time they migrated all their traffic to a new domain with a new design and store. The old domain remained in use but it was used for downloads only. So the question was brought up, how do you redirect only the root URL path of the site. This would allow you to send all the traffic to the root of the domain to their primary site but still allow the downloads.

Redirect only the root URL path for Nginx

Nginx was the natural choice this site with all of the static download content. So I began to search for different options to allow me to redirect only the root url path. While searching I found this page that outlines the location directive to be added into my Nginx config. The directive is this:

location = / {       
     return 301; 

The “location = /” section tells Nginx to match all queries that only come to the root of the site. And “return 301;” tells Nginx to perform a 301 redirect to You can perform a 302 redirect if you prefer by switching the number from 301 to 302.

The directive above can be added in anywhere in your “Server {}” section of the Nginx config.

Redirect only the root URL path for Apache

We don’t want anyone to feel left out. So for all you apache web server lovers out there here is the config to redirect only the root of Apache. I found a good example of how to accomplish this here.

RewriteEngine on 
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} mysite\.com [NC] 
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_URI} ^/$ 
Rewriterule ^(.*)$ [L,R=301]

What do these configuration settings mean? “RewriteEngine on” ensures that Apache’s Rewrite Engine is working. The next line adds a condition to the rewrite rule. It specifies that the request should compare what the server sees as the HTTP_HOST of the request against “”. The “[NC]” indicates that comparison should be made in a case insensitive manner.

The next rule checks the REQUEST_URI to see if it matches only the root with nothing after it. When both those conditions are met the request will be redirected to The “[L,R=301]” indicates that the redirect should be a 301 and this is the “Last” rule to check.

So any request to exactly “” will automatically be redirected to “”.