Free SSL vs.Paid SSL -SSL Certificates Explained In Detail

 SSL Certificates have become an essential for any blog, website, ecommerce website or enterprise level website. It affects all sites no matter the kind, size and location of it.

Previously ecommerce websites were only using SSL certificate because people would share their credit card or financial details to make purchases.

The importance of SSL certificate rise after Google announced in 2018 that all sites should have valid SSL on their websites whether its ecommerce or not.

Google chrome and Microsoft Edge and other popular browsers like safari, Opera, Firefox warns its users the Unsecure mark if a valid SSL is not found for a website.

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What is an SSL certificate?

SSL(Secure Socket Layer) certificate is a digital signature issued by an authority which tells the site is secure specifically for sharing sensitive information. It is a secure connection between visitor on your website and the server or your web hosting.

Importance of SSL Certificate

SSL certificate has numerous advantages and its great importance is,

·         Secure Site: The first and foremost benefit of a SSL certificate is that it shows the site as secure and the secure lock pad symbol is active. Most users take it as a positive sign and try to interact more. They do not hesitate in sharing sensitive and financial information such as Credit card details, name phone no and more.

·         Better SEO- According to Google SSL is one of the other thousand ranking factors.

·         Internet Browsers: Most internet browsers warn their visitors if a site is not having a valid SSL certificate. So if you have a valid SSL than the browsers will not show any warning before visiting the site.

·         Better Image: he secure padlock symbol before the site name makes the readers think that site is legit and of better value.

·         Hacker protection: When you activate a SSL it creates a secured layer is created which acts as a barrier between hacker and Website.

Types of SSL Certificates:

You get either free or paid SSL certificates but both works. Before we move onto discuss the Paid versions, I would like to discuss about the free certificates.

Free certificates are generally provided by Hosting Companies that are shared and server level certificates. The same certificate is shared by all the domains hosted on the server.

When you buy any web hosting plan you get a free SSL certificate with some companies and in some plans.

Paid SSL certificates can be classified into 3 broad categories

1.    Domain Validated

o   Domain Validated- This is the lowest form of validation and available for the domain only. Here you just have to verify that you are the domain owner and the SSL certificate would be activated shortly. The price for this type SSL certificate varies from $20-$100 per year for one domain. The downside of the SSL certificate is that it can be taken by any anonymous person without background verification. Blogs, freelance websites, temporary websites can/should take these types of certificates.

2.    Organisational Validated

o   Organisational validated SSL is medium level certificate and it is for domain and brand name protection. It needs to be bought separately for different domains and servers. This is called Organisational validated because it is given to verified businesses/organisations. It requires a valid name, type,status and a physical address to get this type of certificate. Ecommerce sites, small business websites, membership sites, discussion forum sites should get these type certificates.

3.    Extended Validated

o   Extended Validity is for large enterprises and bigger organisations. It requires more validation than the Organisational validation. Apart from the requirement from organisational validation it also requires a verified public phone number, total no of years in business information, company registration number, jurisdiction and it goes through a domain fraud check, contact blacklist check. Normally Banks, Enterprises or large level organisations require these kinds of SSL certificates.

What is the difference between Free SSL, and Paid SSL Certificates?

Domain Validated

Organisational Validated

Extended Validated

Domain Validated(DV) Certificate

Organisation Validated(OV) Certificate

Extended Level validation(EV) certificate

For Domain Validation Only

For Domain Name and Brand protection

For Enterprise Level Validation

Lowest Form of Validation

Medium Level Of Validation

Top Level Validation

Shared Certificate, Shared by all Domains hosted on the Same Server

Need to be bought separately for different domains or servers

It secures multiple sub-domains that belong to a single domain.

Any Anonymous organisation can get this type certificates

Recognised Organisations with Valid name, type, status, and physical address get this type Certificates.

Verified enterprises with Valid name, type, status, physical address, public phone number, years in business, registration number, domain fraud check, contact blacklist check, and jurisdiction is done to get this type Certificates.

Blogs, Small Websites, freelance Websites get this type of certificates

E-commerce sites, small businesses, membership sites collecting payment information and user data  get this type of Certificates

Enterprises with large Websites

Needs manual Validation

Quick & Automated Validation

Quick & Automated Validation

How to get a Free SSL Certificate?

The domain validation SSL certificate is the most common ones and also checks if your host is offering a free SSL certificate which is enough for blogs.

·         Ask your hosting company to provide one. If your host does not provide you with a free SSL certificate then there are two ways you can get a certificate.

·         Let’s encrypt- Let’s encrypt offers free domain validated SSL certificates for any blog or website.

·         Cloudflare– You can get a free SSL certificate from Cloudflare. You have to point your domain names to Cloudflare servers and they will install a server level SSL certificate on your website for free.


So the kind of SSL certificate you require for your website primarily depends on what you do on your site, your organisation type and your budget too. I recommend every website should have SSL certificate installed to avoid web browsers showing not secure warning.

Install a free domain level certificate through let’s encrypt or Cloudflare company on your site.

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