What is an SSL Certificate?
An SSL certificate primarily establishes a secure link between the client and the server. When you send data over the internet, there is the possibility of the data getting copied or stolen by someone else on the internet. This is an undesired outcome, especially if you are buying online with a credit card or uploading private information to a government website. To solve this issue, almost all kinds of website owners install an SSL certificate on their website. There are different kinds of SSL certificates available but for the purpose of this article, we will only differentiate between free and paid SSL certificates. Let’s dive into the details.
Free SSL Certificates
A free SSL certificate makes it easy for you to have a certain level of security without giving away any money. This option may not be suitable for all, but it does suffice for the average blogger and a vast majority of other businesses that have set up an online presence.
Here’s what a free SSL certificate offers:
Security: With a free SSL certificate, you can make use of the https protocol.
Less management: Since the certificate is free, you don’t have to manage payments or renewals with the service provider. While it’s true that you have to renew a free SSL every 90 days, you can automate this process.
Improved SEO: https protocol is SEO friendly so if you have it on your site, chances are, your SEO task will be made easier.
Paid SSL Certificates:
If free SSL certificates did everything, then the paid ones wouldn’t exist, would they? There are good reasons why companies go for paid SSL certificates.
Lifespan: Free certificates need to be renewed every 90 days. Premium SSL certificates, however, have a lifespan of two years. The extended validity offers some peace of mind to the site owners so they can concentrate on their business, rather than on the security of their website.
Verification and Trust: There are many different types of SSL certificates out there. Some offer a unique validation level while others have their special purpose. With premium SSL certificates, you can also get your ID verified and obtain the green address bar; a sign of trust on the internet. A green address bar is obtained through an EV SSL certificate. This certificate can only be obtained after a rigorous verification process, proving the reliability and trustworthiness of the site owner.
Customer Support: With a free SSL certificate, you are left on your own. You have to install the certificate yourself and renew it on your own. If you opt for a premium SSL certificate, you get the full service. In case your certificate isn’t working as expected, you can always contact the provider and ask for assistance. Similarly, if there is a security incident on your site despite the presence of a paid SSL certificate, you can claim damages through the service provider or insurance. While this is rare, it can happen and if you process a lot of important data, you don’t want to take the risk without insurance.
In short, free and paid SSL certificates carry their distinct advantages and disadvantages. It comes down to your personal preferences as well as professional requirements. If you are just starting with an online presence, you can get started with a free SSL certificate and get things going. You can switch to a paid one as soon as you realize you need more security, or can afford better security.