Free SSL vs. Paid SSL. What Is the Difference?

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Free SSL vs Paid SSL

Do you intend to secure your website with an SSL certificate? If so, you might be confused about whether to opt for Free and Paid SSL certificates, as both come with – 256-bit encryption strength and secure data exchange between a website and a user’s web browser.

Yet, despite these significant similarities, one is available free of cost, and for the other one – you need to pay. So, why pay for something that’s available for “Free”? Why not choose the Free SSL certificate? Are Paid SSL certificates better than Free SSL? These are typical queries that surface when making this decision.

If you have similar queries – don’t fret! In this article, we will explore – the answers to all such questions and will help you to make an informed decision for your website by comparing Free SSL vs Paid SSL.

What Is the Difference Between Free SSL and Paid SSL?

Below are the technical components that individuals or organizations should consider when choosing between Free vs Paid SSL certificates:

Validation Level

Opting for a Free SSL certificate means being limited to one type of validation: Domain Validation. Domain Validated (DV) SSL certificates only verify domain ownership without confirming the entity’s identity. Consequently, the certificate display lacks the organization’s name and, therefore, only provides a basic level of customer trust.

Conversely, if you opt for a Paid SSL certificate, you can get the certificate issued with any of these three types of validationDomain Validation, Organization Validation, or Extended Validation.

Organization Validated Certificates validate both website ownership and organization information. Extended Validated Certificates validate your physical, legal, and operational identity. OV SSL certs provide a moderate level of trust, and EV offers the highest level of trust.

Recommended: OV SSL Vs EV SSL Certificate: Differences Explained

Site Seal & Validity Period

A site seal is a visual trust indicator that lets your website visitors know that your enterprise values online security. Paid SSL certificates come with site seals that help build site users’ confidence and trust. But it’s not the case when it comes to a Free SSL, as they – do not include a site seal.

Free SSL certs have a lifespan of ninety (90) days, after which you must renew the certificate again. In contrast, Paid SSL certs are valid for at least a year. You can also choose to extend Paid cert’s validity up to five (5) years at the time of purchase.

Warranty Amount

Paid SSL certificates come with a predetermined warranty, ensuring recompense to the website owner in case of potential data leaks. Choosing a Paid SSL also ensures that clients are covered for any financial losses occurred due to a security breach. However, Free certificates do not come with an SSL warranty, i.e., clients won’t receive any compensation if anything goes haywire.

Security Enhancements & Ownership

Paid SSL certificates come with extra security enhancements like – advanced vulnerability assessments, daily malware scanning, etc., to protect websites from cyber threats. But Free SSL certs don’t have such capabilities or features.

Paid SSL certificates offer complete ownership, flexibility, and control over the certificate. Free certificates, such as those provided by – Cloudflare, Amazon, etc., may offer different levels of control and may become invalid if you switch to another CDN or AWS provider.

Browser Compatibility

Popular browsers widely support Free SSL certs, but they don’t work correctly on older or less commonly used browsers. Also Free SSL Cert may be incompatible with some older mobile devices. Apart from this, installing a Free certificate on specific platforms can be complex.

Paid SSL certificates are compatible with 99.99% of modern web and mobile browsers. Thanks to the Chain certificates within the SSL chain of trust, these certs also work smoothly with VPN devices, OS, email clients, etc.

Also Read: SSL Certificate Chain Trust

Support

Paid SSL certificates come with a 24*7 customer support team ready to resolve any issues regarding SSL issuance, validation, & installation throughout the validity period. Website owners can connect with them through their preferred communication medium, via call, email, virtual meetings (Zoom/Skype), etc.

Apart from this, the CA or third-party SSL resellers who also sell Paid SSL Certificates, also offer SSL validation resources and installation guides.

In the case of Free SSL certs, there is no customer support as the Free SSL comes with automated process.

Usage

A Free SSL certificate is an excellent option for entry-level websites or businesses not processing online payments. You can secure online portfolios, personal blogs, sites, etc., with a Free SSL certificate without worrying about any security issues.

On the other hand, Paid SSL certificates come with OV and EV validation and are, therefore, the preferred choice for e-commerce platforms, financial institutions, large enterprises, and fintech startups. These entities prefer Paid SSL cert as they require a higher level of customer trust to stay competitive.

Free vs. Paid SSL

For a better understanding, let’s go through Free SSL vs Paid SSL in a tabular format:

BenchmarkFree SSL CertificatePaid SSL Certificate
Certificate AuthorityLet’s Encrypt, Amazon, Cloudflare, etc.Sectigo, Comodo, Certera, etc.
Encryption Strength256-bit encryption256-bit encryption
Validation TypeDomain ValidationDomain Validation, Organization Validation, and Extended Validation
Issuance Time3-5 minutesDepends upon the Validation type
PriceFree$2.99/yr to $799.00/yr
Validity Period90 daysMinimum 1 year; Maximum 5 years
OwnershipDifferent level of controlFull control
UsageSmall websites like – personal websites, blogs, online portfolios, etcLarge and complex websites consisting of payment gateways like – e-commerce platforms or financial institutes
WarrantyNoYes
Site SealNoYes
Customer SupportNoYes
Security enhancementsNoYes

Why not choose the Free SSL certificate?

Some browsers may not fully trust Free SSL, which could lead to security warnings or pop-ups for your website visitors. Also, there is no customer support, and neither does the Issuing Certificate Authority provide any compensation in case of a security incident.

Apart from this, Domain Validated, Free SSL certificates can only provide a basic level of customer trust and, therefore, are unsuitable for financial or e-commerce platforms.

Are Paid SSL certificates better than Free SSL?

Paid SSL certificates are better than Free SSL certificates because they have more features and benefits. Paid SSL certificates come with all three validation levels – DV, OV, or EV, while free SSL certificates only offer basic domain validation.

Additionally, paid SSL certificates come with 24/7 customer support, extended validity duration, a predetermined warranty ranging from $10,000 to $1,500,000, and dynamic site seals that can help build users’ trust and confidence.

Which SSL Certificate should I choose – Free or Paid?

Choosing between Free SSL vs Paid SSL certificates ultimately depends on your specific needs. Free SSL certificates can provide basic encryption, but they may have limitations in terms of validation, customer support, warranty, and browser compatibility. Paid SSL certificates, on the other hand, typically offer trust-building features, 24*7 support, a predetermined warranty, and greater validation options.

Free SSL certs are ideal for protecting small websites like – personal websites, blogs, online portfolios, etc., whereas Paid SSL certificates are an excellent option to secure large and complex websites consisting of payment gateways like – e-commerce platforms or financial institutes.

From where should I buy Paid SSL certificates and why?

CheapSSLWeb is the best platform to buy a Paid SSL certificate that provides high level of encryption and customer support and meets industry standards. Whether it is a DV, OV, or EV SSL certificate that you may require, you will get it on this site, and that too at the cheapest rate in comparison to all the resellers or vendors present out there in the market.

Here are the list of Cheapest SSL Certificate available at CheapSSLWeb for each validation level.

NameValidation LevelCost
Certera SSL CertificateDV$2.99/yr
Comodo Instant SSL CertificateOV$21.99/yr
Comodo PositiveSSL EV CertificateEV$59.99/yr

Conclusion

Free and Paid SSL certificates differ significantly in their technical aspects. While both provide the same encryption strength and perform the same function, Paid SSL certs offer extra features like – organization and extended validation, 24/7 customer support, a more extended lifespan, and a warranty covering financial losses due to SSL-related issues.

Choosing between free and paid SSL certificates depends on individual needs. For greater security, customer support, and trust-building features, opting for a Paid SSL certificate from a trusted CA is recommended.

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Janki Mehta

Janki Mehta

Janki Mehta is a Cyber-Security Enthusiast who constantly updates herself with new advancements in the Web/Cyber Security niche. Along with theoretical knowledge, she also implements her practical expertise in day-to-day tasks and helps others to protect themselves from threats.