Free SSL Certificates vs. Paid SSL Certificates

Free SSL Certificate vs Paid SSL Certificate

With the increasing count of fraudulent activities and hacking attempts each day, website security is becoming a major concern for users and website owners.  As a result, SSL certificate installation has become a must-do thing for website security. SSL Certificates are not only an invaluable weapon for website security but they also lend a helping hand in boosting your SERPs (Search Engine Ranking Positions).

What is a Free SSL Certificate?

A free SSL certificate is the one which comes for free. So, you don’t have to pay anything for using them in your websites. The purpose of Free SSL is to make https available for all websites. Now, in order to understand the key differences between free and paid SSL certificates, you must understand the term ‘certificate authority‘.

Free SSL Certificates are divided into two categories:

  • Self-Signed Certificates – These certificates are the ones that don’t require any Certificate Authority (CA) to sign them. Issuer himself/herself signs them.
  • Free SSL Certificates – These certificates are issued by the non-profit certificate authorities like ‘Let’s Encrypt‘. Talking about the level of encryption, a Free SSL provides the same level of encryption as like in Paid SSL.

Note – Let’s Encrypt is a leading non-profit certificate authority that provides Free SSL/TLS certificates. They aim to encrypt the entire web with https so as to create a more secure privacy-respecting web.

What is a Paid SSL Certificate?

A paid SSL certificate is the one for which you need to pay. A paid SSL certificate is issued and signed by a trustworthy certificate authority. You can purchase it directly from the Certificate Authority’s website. Also, you can get paid SSL certificates from 3rd party companies who are also called as ‘Resellers’.

Key Differences Between Free SSL Certificates and Paid SSL Certificates

  • Type of SSL Certificate – Free SSL Certificates offers just Domain Validation (DV). DV Certificates provides a basic level of authentication. They are mostly used by blogs and small business websites. There is no provision for OV (Organization Validation) and EV (Extended Validation) in Free SSL Certificates. On the other hand, paid SSL certificates comes with options live OV & EV which are essential for the protection of business websites.
  • Level of Validation – In Free SSL Certificates, Certificate Authority does not validate anything except for the identity of the website owner. While in paid SSL certificates, website owner identity verification is a must before issuing the certificate to the website. In the case of OV & EV certificates, the CA carries an in-depth verification of the business.
  • Validity Period – Usually Free SSL certificates are issued for 30-90 days. Therefore, the website owner must renew the certificate every 30-90 days. On the other hand, paid SSL certificates can be issued for 1-2 years.
  • Support – In paid SSL Certificates, customers will receive round the clock support from resellers and certificate authorities (CAs). Free SSL Certificates doesn’t come with any such support from Free CAs as they can’t afford to.
  • Level of Trust – The level of trust is low in a Free SSL Certificate as they assist with just Domain Validation (DV). So, if someone wishes to go with OV & EV certificates, they have to go with paid SSL certificates. The green address bar and site seal that comes with OV & EV SSLs develop a high level of trust. Unfortunately, free SSL certificates don’t have any such options. As per researches, it is seen that people are more likely to buy from websites that have a green address bar and site seals.
  • Warranty – Although this might look like a hypothetical point for some but its true in some cases. Paid SSL Certificates comes with a substantial amount of warranty if something goes wrong at Certificate Authority’s end. While in Free SSL, there is no such warranty. Although there will be rarely any case about this.

SSL Certificate for just $8.88 with Namecheap

Free SSL Certificates vs. Paid SSL Certificates: The Conclusion

free ssl vs paid ssl

After reading this thorough post about SSL certificates, you will probably be knowing which one you should go with. If you are ok with the pitfalls of Free SSL Certificate, it’s good to go with a free one. But, if your business is big enough, I believe spending a few bucks shouldn’t be a problem; you should go with a paid SSL certificate.

With the increasing count of fraudulent activities and hacking attempts each day, website security is becoming a major concern for users and website owners.  As a result, SSL certificate installation has become a must-do thing for website security. SSL Certificates are not only an invaluable weapon for website security but they also lend a helping hand in boosting your SERPs (Search Engine Ranking Positions).

What is a Free SSL Certificate?

A free SSL certificate is the one which comes for free. So, you don’t have to pay anything for using them in your websites. The purpose of Free SSL is to make https available for all websites. Now, in order to understand the key differences between free and paid SSL certificates, you must understand the term ‘certificate authority‘.

Free SSL Certificates are divided into two categories:

  • Self-Signed Certificates – These certificates are the ones that don’t require any Certificate Authority (CA) to sign them. Issuer himself/herself signs them.
  • Free SSL Certificates – These certificates are issued by the non-profit certificate authorities like ‘Let’s Encrypt‘. Talking about the level of encryption, a Free SSL provides the same level of encryption as like in Paid SSL.

Note – Let’s Encrypt is a leading non-profit certificate authority that provides Free SSL/TLS certificates. They aim to encrypt the entire web with https so as to create a more secure privacy-respecting web.

What is a Paid SSL Certificate?

A paid SSL certificate is the one for which you need to pay. A paid SSL certificate is issued and signed by a trustworthy certificate authority. You can purchase it directly from the Certificate Authority’s website. Also, you can get paid SSL certificates from 3rd party companies who are also called as ‘Resellers’.

Key Differences Between Free SSL Certificates and Paid SSL Certificates

  • Type of SSL Certificate – Free SSL Certificates offers just Domain Validation (DV). DV Certificates provides a basic level of authentication. They are mostly used by blogs and small business websites. There is no provision for OV (Organization Validation) and EV (Extended Validation) in Free SSL Certificates. On the other hand, paid SSL certificates comes with options live OV & EV which are essential for the protection of business websites.
  • Level of Validation – In Free SSL Certificates, Certificate Authority does not validate anything except for the identity of the website owner. While in paid SSL certificates, website owner identity verification is a must before issuing the certificate to the website. In the case of OV & EV certificates, the CA carries an in-depth verification of the business.
  • Validity Period – Usually Free SSL certificates are issued for 30-90 days. Therefore, the website owner must renew the certificate every 30-90 days. On the other hand, paid SSL certificates can be issued for 1-2 years.
  • Support – In paid SSL Certificates, customers will receive round the clock support from resellers and certificate authorities (CAs). Free SSL Certificates doesn’t come with any such support from Free CAs as they can’t afford to.
  • Level of Trust – The level of trust is low in a Free SSL Certificate as they assist with just Domain Validation (DV). So, if someone wishes to go with OV & EV certificates, they have to go with paid SSL certificates. The green address bar and site seal that comes with OV & EV SSLs develop a high level of trust. Unfortunately, free SSL certificates don’t have any such options. As per researches, it is seen that people are more likely to buy from websites that have a green address bar and site seals.
  • Warranty – Although this might look like a hypothetical point for some but its true in some cases. Paid SSL Certificates comes with a substantial amount of warranty if something goes wrong at Certificate Authority’s end. While in Free SSL, there is no such warranty. Although there will be rarely any case about this.

SSL Certificate for just $8.88 with Namecheap

Free SSL Certificates vs. Paid SSL Certificates: The Conclusion

free ssl vs paid ssl

After reading this thorough post about SSL certificates, you will probably be knowing which one you should go with. If you are ok with the pitfalls of Free SSL Certificate, it’s good to go with a free one. But, if your business is big enough, I believe spending a few bucks shouldn’t be a problem; you should go with a paid SSL certificate.

About the author

Avinash Kabra

Avinash Kabra is a young & dynamic Technopreneur, Digital Marketer, Blogger, Foodie and Travel Enthusiast. He is the founder of 'Hi-TechWebMaster'.

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