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Free SSL Versus Paid for SSL

The era of encryption has arrived and if you have not yet secured your website with an SSL certificate, then now is the time to do so – as eventually you will have to take action!

An SSL certificate is an invaluable weapon when it comes to website security, encrypting both personal and financial data that is entered into the website.

You may be unclear as to what an SSL certificate actually is. If this is the case, click here for more information and an explanation of why you need one.

Not Secure

Since July 2018, Google Chrome users visiting any website that has not yet had an SSL installed have received a warning in their browser that a site is “Not Secure”, drawing the user’s attention to sites with unencrypted connections. When users click on the information symbol, a warning currently advises them that no sensitive information should be entered onto the website, as attackers could steal it.

With web users increasingly looking for reassurance that the sites they are visiting can be trusted, this warning from Google will naturally have a negative impact on business. Site visitors are encouraged to turn away from an unsafe website and potentially into the hands of a competitor with a secure site.

Why pay for something that you could get for free?

Looking at the options, you will realise that some SSL certificates are free, whilst others are paid for; issued and signed by a trustworthy Certificate Authority.

Below we explore the pros and cons of each option, as many individuals wonder (quite understandably); why on earth they should purchase a certificate with a trusted provider like Comodo, when they could opt for a free alternative like the LetsEncrypt SSL certificate instead!

Free SSL certificates represent a great option for those looking to secure their own blog or a personal website of some kind, particularly when you consider that the level of encryption offered is exactly the same whether you have a free or a paid for SSL certificate.

This however, is where the similarity ends, because as soon as you look at the features of each option in closer detail, the constraints associated with a free SSL certificate become obvious.


The validity period with a LetsEncrypt free SSL certificate is just 90 days, which can represent quite an inconvenience for the average individual or business. By comparison, a paid for Comodo SSL will remain valid for between 1 and 2 years.

Warranty – For Peace of Mind

In the event of a SSL data breach, those with a free SSL are completely out of luck as there is no warranty to fall back on. With the paid for Comodo SSL, however you are backed by a substantial warranty ranging from $10,000 to $1,750,000, offering great peace of mind!

Greater Options

When opting for a free SSL you only have one option, offering the most basic level of authentication; a DV, (Domain Validation) certificate, and you miss out on the benefit of the site seal that comes included with a paid for SSL.

With a paid for SSL you also have the option of the basic DV certificate, but in addition you can choose an OV, or EV (green bar) validation for organisations and businesses, which enables you to demonstrate that your business has navigated an in depth verification process successfully.

Well-positioned site seals, a feature that is always included when purchasing your SSL are the icing on the cake, as studies have revealed that these, particularly when combined with a green address bar, can lead to an increase in sales.

Your site seal conveys the message that your business or organisation values its visitor’s privacy and security online.

Sufficient protection for online transactions?

Any website that is set up to receive personal information or payment has a legal obligation to be secure. Both the free version and the paid for SSL secures online transactions on your e-commerce website and enhances your ability to provide a secure platform for online transactions.   Heightened consumer awareness of the potential risks associated with purchasing products and services online means that online security is a key consideration for the majority of users online. 

Round the clock support

Those with a free certificate might be unable to access support from their SSL provider or have to wait a long time for support and in the event that an issue arises, might be reliant on information sourced online to help them troubleshoot.

Having paid for your SSL however, you are able to enjoy fast issue times and professional support and assistance along with the reassurance of a 30 day money back guarantee.

About Dan

I’m Dan, server-side code and database developer specialising in bespoke e-commerce platform extensions and modules. Coding problem solver and support for all websites, big or small. Self-confessed techie, gamer and family man.

Give us a call on 01460 281865 or email us to see how we can help you!