Is there a difference between a paid SSL Certificate and a free one?


What are the differences between a paid SSL certificate and a free one?

A question that we get asked a lot is why someone should pay for an SSL certificate when there are plenty of free ones available from places like LetsEncrypt.

It’s a good question and we’re sure it’s one you’ve probably wondered yourself, so it’s worth taking the time to look into this further.

The landscape has changed over time but, as it is right now, the average visitor to your website will see no visual difference between a paid SSL certificate and a free one. They both display the same padlock icon denoting a secure connection, which is all that most people (and Google) care about.

They also use the same level of encryption, so from a technical perspective there is no increase in security by using a paid SSL certificate.

At this point we can hear you all asking what the point of paying for one is then, but the truth is there are a number of “behind the scenes” advantages that you just won’t get with a free SSL certificate.

  • Paid SSL certificates are valid for longer. The majority of free SSL certificates are only valid for 3 months, so you’ll always have at the back of your mind that little niggling worry about whether the renewal date is coming up. A paid SSL certificate will be valid for either 1 or 2 years, which makes renewing it a much less onerous (and frequent!) task.
  • Paid SSL certificates have improved validation. Free SSL certificates use only Domain Validation (DV), which means that the only check that is done before they’re issued is to ensure that you have admin access to the domain. Paid SSL certificates are offered with both Organisation Validation (OV) or Extended Validation (EV). This means that more rigorous vetting is carried out before they are issued. This could include verifying the legitimacy of your business, checking the status of your key personnel and much more. This won’t mean much to your average person, but anyone with some knowledge of SSLs can drill down into the particulars of your certificate and see for themselves what type it is. This can be useful if you are ever in a situation when you need to confirm your business credentials with someone – perhaps a large international corporation who you are looking to do business with? They may appreciate being able to see for themselves that you are who you say you are.
  • Paid SSL certificates come with Technical Support. If you’re using a free SSL certificate at the moment, ask yourself what will happen if you ever need some help or support with it. Will that assistance be available? A paid SSL certificate is more likely to come with technical support available when you need it. For example, purchase an SSL certificate from us and you’ll be able to ring our UK call centre about it, or send in a technical enquiry from your Online Control Panel.
  • Paid SSL certificates offer a higher warranty. In the rare event that a failure to validate the SSL certificate properly leads to a website user suffering financially, the amount they can claim from the warranty is much higher with a paid SSL certificate. A free SSL certificate only offers a basic warranty, if it even offers one at all. This may not seem like a key consideration, but it’s an extra layer of assurance that only a paid SSL certificate can offer you.

So there you have it – 4 key advantages of a paid SSL certificate over a free one. They may not mean much to the typical website visitor, but when added together they can provide you with an extra level of comfort and assurance, as well as reducing some of your admin overheads.

So why not take the plunge and upgrade today from a free SSL certificate to a paid one? Take a look at the various options we have available and please get in touch if you have any queries. We’d love to hear from you.