FREE SSLs Versus Paid - Are they Worth it Or Not?

FREE SSLs Versus Paid - Are they Worth it Or Not?
Speaking frankly, every single SSL certificate does the same thing for your website; it encrypts the communication that occurs between point A and point B. Deciding to pay for an SSL certificate doesn’t protect it any better or more strongly. So, why would anyone pay for SSL, and why are there even different varieties? Nothing in life is truly free, and that’s the same with SSL certificates. Read on to find out if it’s worth it for you to invest in a paid SSL or if a free version is sufficient.

The reason SSL certificates were made available for free was to make the internet a safer place. Not everyone can easily afford the extra costs of website encryption. On the other hand, everyone has the chance to install a free product to participate in the movement against cybercrime.

Before we dive into the reasons why you should consider paid SSL, imagine the following situation: You want to do business with a company and ask them to write you an email with some clarifying details. The email you receive is sponsored by a free-mail provider like Gmail or Yahoo. Millions of people have email addresses like that, but how professional does it really look? Using a free SSL certificate works the same way. It does the basic job, it secures the connections on your website with the bare minimum, but there are some substantial differences.

Free SSL certificates

For starters, non-profit certificate authorities (CA) issue free SSL certificates. They made it their mission to promote HTTPS and to make it the security standard online. In the long run, using SSL will make the internet a safer place. A free, self-signed SSL certificate provides authentication for one single domain, and the HTTP in the address bar will turn into HTTPS, but the CA will only validate the identity of the website owner. Unfortunately, the user won’t be able to find out who owns the website, and since everybody can issue a free SSL, you also cannot guarantee that it is a real person or even a legitimate business. Now, ask yourself: would you do business with someone you can’t entirely trust?

Paid SSL certificates

If money is no issue, a paid SSL certificate is always the better option because it is critical for the security as well as the reputation of your website. It doesn’t just offer a higher level of validation, it also needs to be issued and signed by a commercial CA or a certified third-party reseller. They provide support and ensure your certificate is working properly. The level of validation is measured accordingly to the type of certificate you decide for. Furthermore, the paid version of the SSL provides a secured site seal for their SSL certificates, which can help you to gain the trust of your visitors. The green padlock in the browser address line represents a trustworthy online presence and acts as your digital business card.

Type of SSL Certificate and Level of Trust

You can differentiate between several types of SSL certificates based on their level of validation: Domain Validation (DV), Organization Validation (OV), and Extended Validation (EV). The level of security increases with every level, as well as the vetting process.

Free SSL certificates only offer DV, which only provides a basic level of authentication. It doesn’t allow you to display your name or the name of your business in the address bar and won’t show your certificate’s details.

Paid SSL certificates come in different variations, which all offer a different level of validation. EVs, for example, enable the green address bar. Larger companies often require a higher level of validation to show their market authority.

What really matters

  • Lifespan
    One of the most important and convenient differences between free and paid SSL certificate options is the timespan it is valid for. In general, free SSLs are typically issued for 30 to 90 days and have to be renewed after this period. You can avoid having to constantly keep tabs on your certificates by setting up the auto-renew feature, but if you forget about renewing it, you risk your website’s security. On the other hand, paid certificates can be issued for up to two years, which increases the “worry-free” period by a lot.
  • Customer Support
    Setting up SSL is an easy process... until it isn’t. Even if you have experience with web design or programming, you can still run into problems. Basically, good customer support isn’t important until something breaks, and in the case of a free SSL certificate, there is typically no support at all. If an emergency arises, you have to find the solution by reading online forums for similar situations or find a tech-savvy person that can help you figure out the issue. Not so with paid SSL certificates, since they come fully supported. CAs and resellers of paid certificates provide technical support and are committed to helping their customers around the clock support.
  • Options
    As mentioned above, there are several different types of SSL certificates. Free certificates only support single-domain validation, while paid SSLs aren’t just offered as single-domain, multi-domain, wildcards, or multi-domain wildcards. You can also decide between multiple validation levels.
  • Warranties
    Free SSL certificates don’t have warranties, which means that if anything goes wrong — no matter whose fault it is — you are completely out of luck. Commercial CAs and certified resellers like 101domain offer a substantial amount of warranty depending on the plan you are choosing. It provides insurance for your certificate in case fraudulent transactions happen.


In the end, it all comes down to your needs and budget. If you run a business, a paid SSL certificate with higher levels of validations should be factored into a successful plan. The extra layer of security will emphasize professionalism and benefit your search engine rankings while protecting sensitive data. On the other hand, if you are only operating a small blog, a basic SSL is a good option in case you’re not certain about your long term goals.


The Editorial Team of MyBloggerLab consists of a group of Professional Blogger geeks Led by Syed Faizan Ali (Founder of MyBloggerLab).

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