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What Is the Difference Between Free Let’s Encrypt SSL and a Paid SSL Certificate?

In this tutorial, you will learn what is the difference between a free Let’s Encrypt SSL and a Paid SSL Certificate.

Before we can start it is important for you to know why you should care about HTTPS and about the benefits of using HTTPS for your website.

Why Should You Care About HTTPS?

The question “Why should I care about HTTPS?” is an easy one to answer: Because Google says so. According to Google – HTTPS is now a ranking signal among some other factors.

What Are the Benefits of HTTPS?

  • Your data is encrypted and secure. No plain text is ever passed. This is an important aspect of e-commerce transactions but also for even logging into your website.
  • Google has officially said that HTTPS is a ranking factor.
  • The green padlock bar helps build trust and credibility for your visitors.
  • Avoid the Chrome warning that is coming in January 2017 which is going to mark HTTP pages that collect sensitive information as non-secure.

So What Is Let’s Encrypt?

Let’s Encrypt is a free, automated, and open certificate authority brought to you by the non-profit Internet Security Research Group (ISRG).

While Let’s Encrypt certificates are only valid for 90 days (paid SSL Certificates generally expire after one or two years), auto-renewal is available to ensure that a website won’t be left without HTTPS.

We have Let’s Encrypt integration with all of our web hosting plans, which means free SSL Certificates for all of your websites hosted by us.

What Is the Difference Between a Free Let’s Encrypt SSL and a Paid SSL Certificate?

So with Let’s Encrypt SSL certificates available for free, why would you pay for one? In terms of the actual encryption method, there’s no difference between a certificate issued by Let’s Encrypt and one from a commercial provider.

However, there are various reasons why Let’s Encrypt can’t compete with a paid SSL Certificate:

1. Validation Levels

There are three basic types of SSL Certificates available from commercial CAs: domain validation (DV), organization validation (OV) and extended validation (EV).

Domain Validation SSL Certificates (DV) offer an economical and quick way to implement SSL to your website. Domain Validated certificates verify you own the domain, but do not perform any additional organization level validation.

Organization Validated SSL Certificates (OV) provide instant identity confirmation and strong SSL protection for your website and business.

EV SSL is an Extended Validation Certificate, the highest class of SSL available today and gives more credibility and trust to your website compared to using an organization or domain validated SSL Certificate.

Due to the way its automated systems are set up, Let’s Encrypt can only provide DV certificates. While this may be enough for many sites, if you are looking for a higher level of verification – and the increased trust that comes with it, you will need to look for a premium type of SSL Certificate.

2. Warranty

Premium SSL Certificates will come with a warranty – essentially a form of insurance against the unlikely event of certificate failure, fraudulent transactions and end-users losing money. Warranty value starts from USD $10,000 and can go up to USD $1,500,000 based on the type of SSL Certificate.

Let’s Encrypt certificates do not offer any form of warranty.

3. Trust Site Seal

Premium SSL Certificates come with a trust seal that you can place on your website that has been proven to increase visitor confidence and customer conversions.

Let’s Encrypt certificates do not offer any type of site seal.

Conclusion

With Google and major web browsers pushing the entire websites towards HTTPS, Let’s Encrypt is ideal for taking the first step into the world of HTTPS. For smaller personal sites and blogs, Let’s Encrypt is a great choice.

But for enterprise-level sites, that handle sensitive data, the benefits of a premium SSL Certificate are unbeatable. If you’re running an e-commerce platform or any business that takes online payment, the safety of your customer data is crucial – something for which you’ll always want to ensure the maximum level of security and protection. While Let’s Encrypt can provide SSL protection, it can’t offer the comprehensive coverage and reliability provided by a premium SSL Certificate.

At ChemiCloud, we provide a wide range of premium SSL Certificates from some of the most trusted brands in Online Security.

We offer highly competitive pricing and if you already have an existing certificate with a different web host, we’ll add any remaining validity that you have on your existing competitor SSL Certificate up to a maximum of an additional 12 months. Learn more 

Updated on July 25, 2019

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