Whether you already decided to install an SSL Certificate or just started learning about them, you probably noticed that they come in different forms and prices. There are both free and paid SSL Certificates and sometimes, their substantial difference in costs may seem extremely surprising for you.
The level of SSL encryption is the same regardless of the brand — both cheap and premium SSL Certificates are typically issued with 256-bit certificate encryption and 2048-bit key encryption. So why you should invest in a paid SSL Certificate? Let’s find out.
Free vs. Paid SSL Certificate
The SSL industry is dynamic and continuously growing since businesses and people are present online now more than ever. Bloggers, e-commerce shops, and electronic wallets — all these businesses need to protect their websites and their users from cyber attacks, threats, and vulnerabilities. The range of paid SSL certificates has been adapted and diversified by Certificate Authorities to cover any needs — from basic websites to enterprises and banks.
Since Google made HTTPS and SSL SEO-friendly, free SSL Certificates gained great popularity. Although they offer only Domain Validation, there are still high hopes for this open source project. However, free certificates come with several limitations and disadvantages.
Drawbacks of installing a Free SSL Certificate
- Domain Validation only — since these certificates come with no cost and are issued within a few minutes, they are limited to one single validation option — Domain Validation. This may be perfect for a small website or blog, but it’s not the best option for larger websites which are collecting 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.
- May hurt your customers’ trust — 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 case of questionable CAs.
- Limited lifetime — free certificates are issued for a limited period of time, usually 90 days. On the other hand, paid SSL Certificates are offered for 1 or 2 years, so you don’t have to get them reissued and installed so frequently.
- Tardy customer support — free SSL issuers usually provide limited customer service, so issues aren’t resolved in a timely manner.
Absolutely not. You have the freedom to upgrade to a paid SSL Certificate and benefit from its various advantages anytime you want.
Benefits of choosing a Paid SSL Certificate:
There are many reasons why you should opt for a premium SSL Certificate. However, the most important benefits are:
- Recognition — a certificate issued by a reputable Certificate Authority makes a website seem more reliable to any customer. With paid certificates, clients have the right to report any issue to the CA, which is obliged to immediately investigate them. As a result, clients feel safer having their backs ensured by trusted CAs.
- Different options — paid SSL Certificates are issued in all three validation options — Domain, Business, and Extended Validation. There are also different certificate types based on the complexity of the website, One-Domain, Wildcard, and Multi-Domain SSL Certificates, along with Code Signing SSL Certificates for securing downloadable software and digital goods.
- Extended lifetime — currently, paid certificates are issued for one or two years. This means that your business will run smoothly and your website will stay secured for a long time without you worrying about the renewal of your certificate.
- Server compatibility — premium certificates can be used on any hosting services as well as self-managed or dedicated servers, making the setting up process free of any limits.
- Liability protection — when purchasing an SSL certificate, you typically get a warranty which is an insurance that covers any damage incurred as a result of a hack or data breach caused by a flaw in the certificate. The warranty amounts range from $5,000 to $1,500,000 which means that the higher value — the more extensive the warranty is.
When it comes to the security of your websites, or digital goods, you get what you pay for.
Although free SSL certificates may seem a great and cost-free solution, they come with certain drawbacks. On the other side, paid SSL Certificates are more flexible and offer a wide range of benefits despite their cost, making them an excellent choice for any website.