In recent years, search engines like Google have been encouraging website owners to secure their website by installing an SSL certificate. Some have even made changes to their search algorithm to promote secured websites. Moreover, on 25th July 2018, Google took a step further by updating their Chrome browser to explicitly notify visitors when they’ve landed on an unsecured website. With so many measures in place, an unsecured website has a lot to lose.
When you install an SSL certificate, the information becomes encrypted to everyone except for the server you are sending it to. This encryption will ensure that your website and your visitor’s data is safe from prying eyes. So no matter if you’re a blogger, an e-commerce shop or a payment gateway, you must shield your website with an SSL certificate.
There are different types of SSL certificates, both free and paid, that you can install on a website. While the level of encryption is the same for both, free SSL certificates come with a few limitations.
Core Differences Between Free SSL and Paid SSL
Validation: Free SSL Certificates consists only of Domain Validation which provides a very basic level of authentication. The Certificate Authority automates the process of verifying if the applicant owns the domain. Free SSL certificates are ideal for platforms like personal websites and blogs. On the other hand, with paid SSL certificates, the Certificate Authority is responsible for manually verifying the identity of the website owner before issuing the certificate. Paid SSL comes with provisions for Organization Validation (OV) and Extended Validation (EV) certificates. Besides owner identity, OV & EV certificates require a thorough verification of the businesses which is conducted by the Certificate Authority. If you’re a business and want to increase the trust of your customers, a paid certificate is what you will need.
Validity: Generally, free SSL certificates are issued for 30 to 90 days. This means that you will have to renew your free certificate regularly, which can be quite a hassle. On the other hand, paid SSL certificates can be issued for a period of 1 to 2 years which reduces the number of times you will have to renew your certificates.
Warranty: When you opt for a paid SSL certificate, you are generally covered by a warranty. This warranty acts as an insurance against any damage to the business resulting from a flaw in the certificate. e.g. data breach. The warranty level ranges from $5000 to $1 Million, depending on kind of SSL certificate you’ve purchased. Unfortunately, there is no warranty provided with a free SSL certificate.
Support: With a free SSL certificate you get little to no help from the Certificate Authority. On the other hand, Certificate Authorities and their resellers issuing paid SSL certificates provide premium support to all their customers.
Server Compatibility: Paid SSL certificates are compatible with most hosting services including dedicated servers and are easier to set up. Free SSL certificates are only easy to install if the hosting provider has made provisions to support it.
Trust: With paid SSL certificates come visual indicators like a lock sign or a green address bar and better site seals. These visual indicators assure your visitors that they are on a safe website and builds trust. Free SSL certificates do provide ‘https://’ but the visual indicators that build trust are missing.
So does it make sense to pay for SSL certificates when there are free ones available? The answer depends on the type of website and how much you value your visitor or customer’s trust. If you have a personal site or a blog, then you can look at using the free SSL option. However, e-commerce and business websites should not think twice before investing in a paid SSL certificate.
We hope this article helps you decide what kind of SSL certificate you should get for your website. At HostGator India, we provide premium SSL certificates from a renowned Certificate Authority called Comodo. If you have more questions about an SSL certificate then you can chat with our sales team or call on 1800-209-8833.