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Free vs Paid: SSL Certificates

Web Hosting Blog

When searching for the perfect SSL certificate for your website, you have probably come across a number of people offering them for free. And the paid-for SSL certificates seem to vary widely in cost. So which do you need and why pay if you can something for free? We’ll be explaining the difference between free and paid for certificates and why free isn’t always better,

Before we delve deeper into this topic it’s important to note that from an encryption standpoint, every SSL certificate offers the same level of encryption. Both, free and paid for, are typically issued with 256-bit certificate encryption and 2048-bit key encryption. 

You do not get stronger encryption from paid than you do from free SSL certificates.

Free SSL’s

Since Google made HTTPS and SSL SEO-friendly, free SSL Certificates have grown in popularity. The positive side of them is that they make them available for all websites.

Free SSL certificates fit into two categories. ‘Self-Signed Certificates’ are the ones in which there is no need for any Certificate Authority to sign them. They are signed by the issuer themselves. The second type of free SSL certificate available in the market is signed by Certificate Authorities (CA). 

What you need to know before installing a Free SSL Certificate

Free SSL certificates also come with certain limitations and risks:

Type of SSL Certificate

Free SSL certificates only come with a Domain Validation (DV) option. DV certificates are used only for providing a basic level of authentication. This may be perfect for a small website or blog, but it’s not the best option for larger websites that collect personal information about their users.

Unsuitable for e-commerce 

Free certificates are not recommended for securing credit card and personal information on e-commerce websites. To make customers trust your business, you need a certification of your authenticity, which is provided only by paid Business Validation or Extended Validation SSL Certificates.

Validity Period

Free SSL certificates are often issued for 30-90 days. This means you must renew the certificate every 30-90 days. 

Phishing scams

According to the Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG), almost 60% of phishing sites use free SSLs to look more credible and deceive their victims. As a consequence of the above, your customers may not trust you simply because you aren’t willing to invest in an SSL Certificate issued by a reputable Certificate Authority. This lack of trust may significantly affect your reputation, especially in the case of questionable CAs.

Does getting a free or cheap SSL certificate prevent you from upgrading to a better one later?

No. You can upgrade to a paid SSL Certificate anytime you want.

What you need to know before installing a Paid SSL Certificate

Here is everything you need to know about installing a paid for SSL certificate

Different types of certificate

Paid SSL Certificates are issued in all three validation options — Domain, Business, and Extended Validation. Additionally, there are different certificate types including One-DomainWildcard, and Multi-Domain SSL Certificates, to find out more about the different types of SSL’s read our handy guide.

Recognition and trust with your customers

A certificate issued by a reputable Certificate Authority makes a website more reliable to any customer. Paid certificates allow clients to report any issue to the CA, who immediately investigate them. As a result, clients feel safer. 

Validity Periods

Unlike free SSL certificates which only last for 30-90 days paid for certificates are issued for 1-2 years.

Liability protection 

Paid for SSL certificates give you a warranty which is insurance that covers any damage incurred as a result of a hack or data breach caused by a flaw in the certificate. 

To find out more about SSL certificates talk with our of our specialist today.