Free SSL vs Paid SSL Certificates

If you have a business website that stores valuable and personal information of your visitors, then it is essential to have a good SSL Certificate for your website. Apart from providing better security for your website, it offers a visual assurance (padlock, https, green URL bar) to the visitor that their stored data is in safe hands. However, with a plethora of free options available, new website owners are usually reluctant to pay for an SSL Certificate.

With Google making it mandatory for websites to have an SSL, keeping your website SSL certified has become more of a necessity than a choice. In this article, we will discuss the key differences between Free and Paid SSL Certificates.

What is an SSL Certificate?

The Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) is the recent security protocol that envisages communication between the browser and the server in an encrypted form, making it difficult for cyber attackers to breach. Mainly the communication between the browser and the server takes place through HTTP requests. SSL Certificates upgrade the protocol by changing HTTP to HTTPS. Depending on the browser, websites with SSL Certificates exhibit a green bar or a padlock next to the URL. Apart from enhancing the security protocol, its major advantages include instilling authenticity and trustworthiness in your brand.

Major differences between Paid and Free SSL Certificates

  1. Level of validation: Depending on the level of validation an SSL Certificate provides, they are usually divided into three types- Domain Validation (DV), Organization Validation (OV) and Extended Validation (EV). With Free SSL, you get validation only for your domain which may suffice for small blogging websites. However, if you own a business or an e-commerce website, then extending your validation to OV and EV is a must.
  2. Certificate Lifespan: A Free SSL Certificate usually has a lifespan of 30-90 days after which it has to be renewed. Paid SSLs have a higher validity period and may extend up to 2 years after which it needs to be renewed.
  3. Level of trust: Paid SSL Certificates in still better trust among the visitors. With OV and EV type validation comes many privileges such as certificate information and better website seals. There are no such privileges attached to Free SSL.
  4. Technical Support: For non-techies, generating a CSR and installing SSL Certificates may become very demanding. With Paid SSL, you get dedicated technical support in dealing with such installation and maintenance. Free SSL companies are usually a non-profit organization and are short on resources, thus lack the required technical support.
  5. Warranty: Paid SSL Certificates give warranty against any lapse on their part; for example, a PKI failure. A business website gets insurance against such failures with Paid SSL while there is no such warranty attached to Free SSL Certificates.


Cybersecurity has become one of the major concerns among business website owners. Getting an SSL Certificate for a website storing critical data is one the easiest way to secure it. Free SSL may appear to be a lucrative option to many, especially new bloggers. However, you may end up paying more in the long run if your website security features get compromised. Paid SSL Certificates offer a sense of trust to your visitors and may ensure a higher return on investment, especially in the long run.