An SSL certificate is essential for giving a website an added layer of security. Some hackers are always trying to gain access to your site. Once they do, they will steal your data and use it for their purposes. Search engines such as Google will also rank your website depending on the type of security you have on it.
With an SSL certificate, your ranking will be higher, thus making you more visible to website visitors. You have the option between free SSL certificate and the paid SSL certificate. Each has its advantages and disadvantages, and that is what will explore in greater detail below.
About SSL Certificate
Before we go into exploring the differences, pros, and cons of free and paid SSL certificates, we must understand what it is. This encrypts online information that passes between the server and the browser. When you install it on your server, it will activate a padlock and https protocol, thereby giving you secure encryption between the web server and browser.
Why Do You Need an SSL Certificate
- Security – An SSL certificate protects your website from hackers. Encryption allows you to keep sensitive information safe even as it travels from the browser to the server. Without encryption, anyone can access information and still it.
- Authentication – An SSL certificate lets you know that you are sending information to the right server. The certificate authorities conduct relevant verification processes before issuing a certificate.
- Helps build trust – An online visitor wants to know that the website they are on is secure. Https, a green bar, and a lock icon are proof that you have taken the right security measures.
- PCI compliance – If you are running any eCommerce platform, you need to show proof that you adhere to the Payment Card Industry (PCI) Standards. You must, therefore, have an SSL certificate on a website to pass the verification processes.
- Search engine rankings – Search engines such as Google take online security very seriously. If your website does not have an SSL certificate, it could impact your overall ranking and, ultimately, the number of visitors.
Understanding the Difference between Free and Paid SSL Certificates
Free SSL certificates come at no cost and will give you access to https for your site. Many SSL providers provide free ones. Even, self-signed SSL certificates do not need a certificate authority, and the signature comes from the issuer. If you are wondering whether Free SSL certificates will provide you with the same encryption protection as the paid ones, the answer is yes.
The reality is the strength of the encryption lies in your browser configurations and not what kind of SSL certificate you have. However, these come with a short span of validity and without any additional after-sales service.
Paid SSL requires that you pay for the service. You get one that has a signature from a trustworthy certificate authority (CA). You can buy it directly from the CA website or an authorized reseller like SSL2BUY.
You may be rightfully wondering whether you should spend your money on a paid SSL certificate. After all, even if it is free, you still get the same level of protection. Understanding the key differences may give you the answer you need.
A free one will only give you the option of Domain Validation (DV). What you get is a very basic level of authentication, making it unsuitable for larger websites. You forgo the prospect of better security that extended validation certificate (EV) and organization validation (OV) will give you.
An EV certificate is the highest level of encryption and is, therefore, more challenging to get. The vetting process is extensive, and you get a green bar on your site to show that you have undergone and passed the vetting process. You also get to have a business name in the URL, and visitors can access the certificate information if they need proof. The vetting process is, however, worth it because visitors will trust your website more.
With a paid SSL certificate, you can also get protection for multiple subdomains. It becomes much easier and more efficient to run the processes from one place. Most importantly, you get to save because you do not need to buy multiple for the different subdomains.
When you go for the free option, the certificate authority will only validate your identity as the website owner. The paid options have more in-depth verification processes before you get a certificate.
Period of cover
Free SSL certificates will give you cover for 30-90 days. You must, therefore, keep up with the renewals; otherwise, you will no longer enjoy the encryption. Paid certificates have more extended coverage. Depending on the package you go for, you can get security for your website for 1 to 2 years.
After purchase support
When you purchase an SSL certificate, you enjoy better support from the resellers and the certificate authorities. The paid options come with a management platform and an interface that allows you to manage everything more efficiently. You may get a primary level of support when you get the free ones.
You may, therefore, have to rely on community or forums support to solve any issues. If you have a problem that you cannot get a speedy resolution to, it could lead to site downtime that can be very inconveniencing for you.
There are instances when something may go wrong with the SSL certificate, and you need a fallback plan. If you go for the free option, you will not get any warranty. The same does not apply to the paid options. Depending on the type you choose, you could get a warranty of anywhere between $10,000 to $1.75 million.
So Which Is the Best Option?
As we have already highlighted above, you will get the same level of encryption from both free and paid SSL certificates. You do not get sufficient support, no warranty, and shorter periods of coverage, among others. However, they can work well for those who are running personal or blog websites. But, if you are running an e-commerce platform, you cannot afford the inconveniences that you may face with free SSL.
You cannot compromise your website in any way because you collect and store a lot of customer data. You also need processes in place that will make the running of your platform more cost-effective and efficient. Most importantly, you need liability protection that the warranty will give you. You should, therefore, consider it an investment when you purchase an SSL certificate for your site.
We cannot stress how vital this can be on your website. Security is critical, especially if you deal with sensitive information. You have the option of free SSL certificates and paid SSL certificates.
Only you can decide which one is better for you. However, we would advise that if you’re running a business on the online platform, then you should go for the paid options. You get the advantages we have highlighted above and can rest easy, knowing that you take the appropriate steps to keep your data safe.