Free Vs Paid SSL Certificates : Which One is the Best for Your Website?

It is an era where hacks and cyberattacks are so rampant. Website owners are doing all it takes to protect their websites against these hacks. One of the techniques that has proved to be effective in securing a website is the installation of an SSL certificate. SSL certificates have proved to be an effective weapon in the war against cybercrimes.  Today, most websites have installed SSL certificates.

A study report conducted by Built With indicates that there exist over 85,167,054 SSL certificates on the internet today. To acquire an SSL certificate, one will need to purchase from a trusted certificate authority or authorised resellers even, one can get a cheap ssl certs as well in very reasonable amount. You are probably wondering which one between the free and the paid SSL certificates is the best for you. Well, this article explores the two types of SSL certificates, gives comparison between the two SSL certificates and concludes by giving a verdict on which of the two certificates is the best. So to understand more, just read on.

 

Free SSL Certificate

 

As the name suggests, a free SSL certificate does not have a price. This means that to acquire a free SSL certificate, one does not need to pay anything. The main reason as to why it was offered for free was to make the access of the HTTPS protocol available for all websites.

There exist two sub-categories of free SSL certificate which it is crucial to understand. The first one is the Self-signed free SSL certificate. With this, it is not mandatory that a Certificate Authority signs it. But it is used for intranet servers. They are instead signed by the issuer. The second type of a free SSL certificate that you can get on the market is the one that requires to be signed by a Certificate Authority.

However, when it comes to the encryption, a free SSL certificate provides the same level of encryption as the paid SSL certificate.

 

 Paid SSL certificate

As the name implies, a paid SSL certificate has a price attached to it. To acquire one, the acquirer must pay a certain level of amount. The paid SSL certificate is bought from a trusted Certificate Authority. The Certificate Authority is required to sign the certificate. To purchase an SSL certificate, you can visit the website of the certificate authority. You can also acquire the certificate by purchasing it from third party entities. The entities are called the authenticate resellers.

For a paid SSL certificate, we will highly recommend the Comodo Multi Domain wildcard SSL certificate if your website is working on multiple domains and their subdomains. There are several benefits that comes with the Comodo Multi Domain SSL certificate. It secures the domain and sub domains on just a single certificate and thus saving on the time and money. It also ensures for utmost security to your website by securing the connection between the website and the internet browser being used by your customer. It is thus a vital component of your website security. Another important benefit that also comes with it is the extend of sub domains that it covers on a single domain. The certificate is capable of securing unlimited number of sub domains over unlimited number of servers.  So if, for instance, you have multiple numbers of sub-domains that need to be secured, then Multi Domain Wildcard SSL certificate will save you from the cost and time of buying single SSL certificates to secure each domain.

The Key Difference between Free SSL Certificate and Paid SSL Certificate

It has been mentioned earlier that both the free SSL certificate and the paid SSL certificate have the same encryption levels. So, the question that you are probably asking is why you should pay for an SSL certificate when you can get an SSL certificate that offer the same level of encryption for free. Well, there are major differences between the two SSL certificates that dictate which among them is the best.

The table summaries the key differences.

ELEMENT FREE SSL CERTIFICATEPAID SSL CERTIFICATENOTE
TYPE OF SSL CERTIFICATEFree SSL certificates only come with a Domain Validation (DV) option. It lacks the critical elements of Organisation Validation (OV) and Extended Validation (EV). The Domain Validation option is important in giving website the basic level of verification. Domain Validation certificates are usually used on small websites,forums and blogs.Apart from the Domain Validation option, paid certificates also have Extended Validation (EV) certificate and Organization Validation (OV) certificates. They are mainly used in securing large business websites.The fact that paid SSL certificates have Organisation Validation certificate and Extended Validation certificate makes them more preferable than the free SSL certificates.
THE LEVEL OF VALIDATIONDuring the acquisition of a free SSL certificate, the only thing that is validated is the identity of the owner of the website. Other important business details are not validated.During the acquisition of a paid SSL certificate, apart from the identity of the owner of the website, other essential business details such as the identity of the website should be verified. This is usually in the case of Organisation Validation and Extended Validation.Verification of all business details makes the paid SSL certificate more trusted and ideal than the free SSL certificates
SUPPORTWith free SSL certificates, no support is offered to you after you purchase the SSL certificate. The sellers cannot afford to offer such kind of extended support. In case you need any kind of support concerning the free SSL certificate, then you will have to browse through several old forum posts.With paid SSL certificates, a twenty four hour support is availed to the user. The Certificate Authorities and the resellers dealing with the SSL certificates are usually committed to providing a full time support to the customers though emails, chats or calls. They have an efficient customer care desk that will always be at your aid whenever needed.SSL certificates can at times be complicated and will require the aid of a Certificate Authority or reseller. Such help can only be availed by paid SSL certificate.
THE VALIDITY PERIODFree SSL certificates have short validity periods. They are usually issued for between 30 to 90 days. The certificates will need to be renewed at end of the period.Paid SSL certificates have comparatively longer validity periods. They can be issued for a period of between one to two years.It is good to go for an SSL certificate with a longer validity to save the time and frequent renewals. This is why a paid SSL certificate is the best.
WARRANTYFree SSL certificates do not have the warranty option. So, in case something goes wrong on the side of the Certificate Authority such as a catastrophic failure of the Public Key Infrastructure, then you will have to deal with the situation by yourself.With the paid SSL certificates, warranties are provided and any failure or catastrophe associated with the SSL certificate will be dealt with considering T&C.Go for the SSL certificate where warranties are provided.
THE LEVEL OF TRUSTIt has already been mentioned that free SSL certificates only have the Domain Validation element and do not have the Organisation Validation and Extended Validation.The paid SSL certificates have the Organisation Validation certificate and the Extended Validation certificate. The two elements come with visual indicators such as HTTPS, a secured padlock, and website seals. Such elements increase the level of trust of the website users.You will need to increase the level of trust to your website users. This is why a paid SSL certificate is ideal.

 

Which SSL certificate is the best?

After going through the above differences, it is beyond doubt that paid SSL certificate is the best compared to free SSL certificate. Despite the price that you have to pay for it, just make sure that you install a paid SSL certificate. It is a worthy investment that you will need for your website.

In Summary

This article has fully explained the two types of SSL certificates, the paid SSL certificate and the free SSL certificate. The article has also explained the major differences between the two SSL certificates. After reading the differences between the two, you notice that a paid SSL certificate is the most ideal for your website.

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