Let’s Encrypt VS Paid SSL; The Major Differences

major differences between free and paid SSL Certificate

There is a hacker attack every 39 seconds and half of all cyber attacks are directed at small businesses. This is because small businesses often do not pay attention to cyber security.

Fortunately, websites can be protected in different ways . A secure socket layer(SSL) certificate is a type of website encryption key that protects websites and its users from hackers and there are different SSL options..

Why is SSL Certificate so important?

SSL certificates in simple terms encrypts your visitors’ connection to your site. This protects both your site and customers from security breaches. SSL certificates act as the pillar of a secure internet and protect any sensitive information we all send over the web.

You can recognize SSL-secured websites easily.The URLs of such websites starts with HTTPS instead of the regular HTTP. Sometimes, you may see a small padlock icon beside the URL. This is the browser letting you know the site you are visiting is secure.

Additionally, apart from website security, SSL Certificate also helps in google SEO rankings as google considers websites with SSL Certificate trustworthy and ranks them higher on search engine results page

Types of SSL Certificate

You may probably know that  SSL Certificate has two types. The first one is ‘Free SSL Certificate’, which is available for free. The other one is paid which is known as just ‘SSL Certificate’

Free SSL Certificate

Let’s Encrypt is a free and open-source Certificate Authority (CA) that offers SSL certificates to anyone who has a domain name. The purpose of making an SSL certificate available free of charge was to make access to HTTPS available for all websites. It is run by the Internet Security Research Group (ISRG), a non-profit organisation based in California.Let’s Encrypt is ‘a free, automated, and open certificate authority, run for the public’s benefit.  Let’s Encrypt is ideal for taking a first step into the world of HTTPS


1) The Type of SSL Certificate

Free SSL certificates only come with a Domain Validation (DV) option.These are only used to provide a basic level of authentication.Free SSL certificates don’t have the capacity for Organization validation (OV) and Extended validation (EV) Certificates. On the other hand, the paid SSL certificates comes with OV & EV options, which are absolutely necessary for protecting business websites.

2)  Validation Levels

Types of SSL Certificates differ based on the type of validation they provide. The three main levels are Domain Validation (DV), Organization Validation (OV) and Extended Validation (EV) certificates. Each offers a higher level of security than the previous and requires a more comprehensive vetting process.

In verifying a website owner’s business details before issuing a free certificate, Let’s encrypt does not validate any other thing except the identity of the website owner. On the other hand, for 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). Sites that are secured with OV and EV certificates are also more often displayed as secure in browsers, which as we mentioned earlier,is vital for improving visitor confidence in your site.

3) Support

Let’s Encrypt and paid SSL options offer different levels of support and warranty as a part of their plans, alongside the certificate itself. Due to its small team, Let’s Encrypt cannot afford to provide direct support to users facing technical issues

Paid SSLs will also typically provide direct technical support, and offer troubleshooting help incase anything goes wrong

It’s also important to know that SSL certificates come with a limited lifespan. Let’s Encrypt certificates have a maximum lifetime of 90 days, although the renewal process is 100% automated. Paid SSLs have a longer lifespan, usually ranging from one to three years, and renewals may be either automatic or manual.

4 ) Warranty

Using 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.

5) Price

It’s difficult to compete with a no cost price tag as Let’s Encrypt is able to provide SSL certificates for free. However, a lower price tag means the absence of some features and support.

Fortunately, some companies offer reasonable prices for paid SSL Certificates like Garanntor SSL Certificates.


With so much threats and security risks, it is imperative to make websites as secure as possible. Web security has become a matter of ‘No Compromise’ and SSL certificates offer a great help to site owners.Paid SSL Certificates are like investments. They come with 24×7 technical team support which makes it an ideal choice for an online business no matter what’s its size is.  Of course, free SSL certificate  is also a  great option for many, but the downside is that it comes with several constraints.

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