Knowledgebase: Security
What is the Difference Between PAID & FREE SSL Certificate?
Posted by Samiya Tariq on 16 September 2020 12:36 PM

Paid SSL Certificates

To equip a website with these certificates, one must pay for it. A paid certificate is issued and signed by a trustworthy certificate authority (CA). You either get it directly from the Certificate Authority’s website or you can purchase it from 3rd party entities called ‘Resellers’.

As far as the level of encryption is concerned, a free SSL certificate provides the same level of encryption as a paid one. Now you must be wondering, ‘why should I pay for the same certificate when you can get it for free?’

Well, there are some major differences between the two.

Key Differences between Free SSL and Paid SSL

  1. Type of SSL Certificate

Free SSL certificates only come with a Domain Validation (DV) option. DV certificates are used only for providing a basic level of authentication. Usually, they are used for platforms such as small websites and blogs. Free SSL certificates don’t have the provision for Organization Validation (OV) and Extended Validation (EV) certificates. Whereas the paid SSL certificates do come with OV & EV options, which are absolutely necessary for protecting business websites.

  1. Level of Validation 

When it comes to verifying a website owner’s business details before issuing a free certificate, CA does not validate anything apart from the identity of the website owner. While in the case of paid SSL certificates, verification of the identity of the website owner is a must before issuing the certificate to the site owner and in the case of OV & EV certificates, in-depth verification of the business is carried out by the certificate authority (CA).

  1. Validity Period

Free SSL certificates provided by popular CAs are issued for 30-90 days. As a result, the website proprietor must renew the certificate every 30-90 days. In the case of paid certificates, they can be issued for a period of 1-2 years.

  1. Support

The certificate authorities (CAs) and resellers of paid certificates are committed to providing round the clock support to their customers. Those customers get to choose whichever type of support they want, be whether its chat, email or call. On the other hand, free CA’s don’t assist their customers with such remarkable support because they can’t afford to. If you need help with an issue regarding free SSL, you’re going to have sifted through a bunch of old forum posts to find it.

  1. Level of Trust

As mentioned earlier, the free certificates assist with domain level validation only. If one wants to get OV and EV certificates, he/she has no option but to go with paid SSL certificates. With OV & EV certificates comes visual indicators such as the business name in URL and Certificate information and better site seals. Whereas, free SSL certificates don’t deliver such privileges.

  1. Warranty

With a free SSL certificate, if anything goes wrong on the CA’s end – like, a catastrophic failure of their PKI for instance – you are completely out of luck. Paid SSL certificates don’t have this issue, because they come backed by warranties that pay out anywhere between 10 grand and 1.75 mils.