Is a Free SSL Certificate Enough

Is a Free SSL Certificate Enough?

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Before I look to answer the question let me very briefly say what a SSL certificate is.

What is a SSL certificate?

You can think of a SSL certificate like a type of digital certificate that is awarded to your website and sometimes your organisation too.

You will know that a website has a certificate if you see a padlock in your web browser:

padlock url in browser



Another indicator that a certificate is present is if you see an “s” after “http” like this:

https in browser



You won’t always see the “https” but you should see the padlock.

“The purpose of the SSL certificate is to establish an encrypted link between a web server and a browser” ( The information passed between the web server and your browser remains private.

Who awards these SSL Certificates?

These certificates are given out by a “Certificate Authority”.

What does a SSL certificate do?

Free certificates encrypt the connection between a user’s web browser and your website and is based on your domain name only.

If you pay for a certificate then your organisation sometimes goes through further levels of validation. This may include checking the named directors and address of the applicant. This is usually done using technology and these types of paid SSL certificates can be issued very quickly.

What does a SSL certificate cost?

I’ve already said that there are free certificates.

If you decide that you need a premium certificate then expect to pay somewhere between £40 and £400.

If you are running an enterprise level website then the price may be higher. Some of these premium certificates provide a level of liability insurance to cover losses.

How to install a SSL certificate?

Most web hosting companies are now providing free SSL certificates.

If you are setting up a website for yourself then you will need to install the certificate. If you are fortunate the web hosting company will do it for you.

If you hire a professional web design company they will set up the certificate for you – but just check that they have.

Many web hosting companies use a Certificate Authority called “Let’s Encrypt!” for the free certificates.

If you decide you need to pay for a certificate then you’ll have to provide the address of your business and a name to go on the digital certificate. If you are a LTD company then they will ask for your registration number from Companies House.

Don’t expect a certificate in the post. You should get an email though.

When “Free” isn’t enough

The free certificates are fine for most personal and small business websites. If you want a little bit of extra cover then I would install a paid certificate.

I would also recommend that you buy a SSL certificate if you don’t want anything to do with installing the certificate and your web host won’t do it for you for free.

I would also recommend a bought certificate if you are responsible for:

  • Enterprise level companies where a website integrates with a backend system
  • Government websites
  • Ecommerce websites


So to conclude, a free SSL certificate is enough for many websites, but not all.

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