Premium SSL Certificates vs Free SSL Certificates: Which is Right for You?
July 18, 2023 / SSL / By Sonu
In today’s digital age where cyber threats are becoming more sophisticated and rampant, website security is paramount. One way to ensure that your website is secured is by installing SSL certificates. There are different types of SSL certificates, but they can be categorized into two main types: Premium SSL certificates and Free SSL certificates. As the name suggests, premium SSL certificates are purchased while free SSL certificates can be obtained at no cost. In this article, we will explore and compare these two types of SSL certificates to help you determine which is right for you.
What are SSL Certificates?
Introduction to SSL Certificates
Website security is of the utmost importance, and SSL certificates are one of the core tools that help to secure websites. SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificates are digital certificates that provide a secure, encrypted connection between a website and the user’s web browser. They enhance website security by establishing an encrypted connection between the server and browser and ensuring that all data passed between the two is safe from eavesdropping, tampering, and impersonation.
How SSL Certificates Work
SSL certificates work by creating a secure connection between a web server and a user’s browser by encrypting the data that is transmitted between them. When a user visits a website secured with an SSL certificate, their browser sends a request to the server for a secure connection. The server responds by sending a copy of the SSL certificate, which includes a public key and other identifying information. The user’s browser checks the certificate to ensure that it is valid, then generates a unique session key that is encrypted by the public key and sent back to the server. Once the server decrypts the session key, the SSL connection is established, and all communication between the user and server is encrypted.
Differences between Premium and Free SSL Certificates
The most obvious difference between premium and free SSL certificates is the cost. Premium SSL certificates typically come with a price tag, while free SSL certificates are, well, free. However, it’s important to keep in mind that free SSL certificates may come with some limitations, which we’ll discuss later in this article.
Another crucial difference between premium and free SSL certificates is the level of validation required. Premium SSL certificates typically undergo a more rigorous validation process, which provides website visitors with a higher level of trust and assurance. Free SSL certificates may only require domain validation, which is less stringent.
Level of Encryption
Encryption levels also vary between premium and free SSL certificates. Premium SSL certificates often come with higher levels of encryption, which provides increased security. Free SSL certificates generally come with lower levels of encryption, which may make them less secure.
Premium SSL certificates typically offer better browser compatibility than free SSL certificates, which may not work with all browsers or may cause issues with website functionality.
Benefits of Premium SSL Certificates
Premium SSL certificates often undergo extended validation, which is a more rigorous verification process that provides website visitors with a higher level of trust and confidence in the website’s identity.
Increased Trust and Credibility
Premium SSL certificates provide website visitors with increased trust and credibility, which can lead to higher conversion rates and continued customer loyalty.
Premium SSL certificates often come with a warranty, which provides website owners with financial protection against any loss or damage resulting from a breach in the certificate’s security.
Limitations of Free SSL Certificates
Free SSL certificates may only undergo domain validation, which is a less stringent verification process. This may make them less secure and provide website visitors with a lower level of trust and assurance.
Shorter Validity Periods
Free SSL certificates may come with shorter validity periods, which require website owners to renew the certificate more frequently.
Lower Warranty Coverage
Free SSL certificates often do not come with a warranty, which means that website owners are not financially protected in the event of a breach or security incident.
Factors to Consider in choosing SSL Certificates
When it comes to choosing an SSL certificate, there are several factors to consider. These factors will help you determine which type of SSL certificate is best suited for your website.
Website Goals and Requirements
Your website goals and requirements should be a top consideration when it comes to selecting an SSL certificate. If your website is an e-commerce site that accepts online payments, you will need a higher level of security. On the other hand, if you are running a simple blog or informational website, a lower level of security may be sufficient.
Level of Security Required
Your website’s level of security is another essential factor to consider when selecting an SSL certificate. The level of security required will depend on the type of website you have and how sensitive the information it handles is. If your website handles highly sensitive data, it’s best to choose a premium SSL certificate that offers the highest level of encryption.
Budget is another crucial factor to consider when choosing an SSL certificate. Premium SSL certificates are more expensive than free SSL certificates. However, the extra cost may be worth it if your website requires a higher level of security.
Lastly, consider the brand reputation of the SSL certificate provider. Choose a reputable provider that is widely recognized and trusted by web browsers. This ensures that your website visitors will trust your website’s security and are more likely to do business with you.
How to Obtain SSL Certificates
Getting an SSL certificate can be a straightforward process if you know what to do. The following are the steps necessary to get an SSL certificate:
Where to Purchase SSL Certificates
Types of SSL Certificates Available
There are several types of SSL certificates available depending on your website’s needs, including domain validated SSL certificates, organization validated SSL certificates, and extended validation SSL certificates.
Step-by-Step Process to Obtain SSL Certificates
The process of obtaining an SSL certificate involves
- Verifying your domain ownership
- Completing the certificate enrollment form
- Installing the SSL certificate on your server
Cost Comparison between Premium and Free SSL Certificates
There’s a significant difference in cost between premium and free SSL certificates.
Cost Comparison Chart
Premium SSL certificates typically cost between $50 to $500 a year, depending on the level of security required and the number of subdomains you need. Free SSL certificates, on the other hand, are offered by organizations like Let’s Encrypt and can be installed on your website at no cost.
Which One is Right for You?
Choosing between premium and free SSL certificates depends on your website’s needs. If your website requires a higher level of security, a premium SSL certificate is the best option. On the other hand, if your website is a simple blog or informational website, a free SSL certificate is sufficient. Consider your website goals, level of security required, budget, and brand reputation when making your decision.
Selecting the right SSL certificate for your website is crucial for security, trust, and reputation. Both premium and free SSL certificates have their advantages and limitations. Your choice will depend on your website’s specific needs, budget, and security requirements. Whatever you choose, always remember that SSL certificates are essential for securing your website and ensuring your users’ safety.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is an SSL Certificate?
An SSL certificate is a digital certificate that authenticates the identity of a website or web server and encrypts the data sent between the website and its visitors.
Why do I need an SSL Certificate?
An SSL certificate is necessary to secure your website and sensitive information that is transmitted between the website and its visitors. It helps protect against cyber threats and hacking attempts and enhances your website’s credibility and trustworthiness.
Are Free SSL Certificates Safe?
Free SSL certificates are safe to use as they provide basic encryption and protection. However, they usually have limitations, such as shorter validity periods, limited warranty coverage, and lower levels of validation and encryption, than premium SSL certificates.
How do I install an SSL Certificate?
The installation process depends on the type of SSL certificate you have chosen. The SSL certificate provider usually provides installation instructions, or you can seek the help of your web hosting provider or website developer.
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About Sonu Prasad Gupta
Sonu Prasad Gupta is founder and CEO of SonuPrasadGupta.Com and Vektor Sigma. He specializes in website design, web development and SEO. For over 7 years he has been helping brands, businesses and entrepreneurs around the world succeed through leading edge technology and creative solutions that are accessible even to those who don’t have any technical and online marketing skills.