Greetings from the Help Desk!
You have a website but still haven’t purchased an SSL? That’s the thing that makes your website start with “https“ and encrypts your guests’ data.
No one wants to spend more money on their website, yet still wanting more visitors. So here’s some helpful information about FREE SSL’s for you. Or is it?
As you probably know, there has been a change in how websites are displayed. Anyone without an encrypted https and padlock in their web address gets flagged by most browsers as either “insecure” or with an exclamation mark. Not good for business! Also not good for Google ranking either!
Enter: the FREE SSL. Is it really worth the hassle?
Free certificates actually aren’t new. Plenty of companies have been offering them for a while. It’s just now that these seem more attractive since the online world is moving to a more secure environment. They are, interestingly, just as safe as paid ones. So why would you pay for one every year when you can get a free one, you ask? Good question! There are a couple of good reasons.
- Offer a warranty, or protection, in case data is captured and unencrypted by a middle man during transfer. Some protect your site up to $1.5 Million, such as Symantec’s Netsure Protection Plan. If you’re selling a lot of items or passing a lot of sensitive information through the internet, then this may be important.
- Offer help to install and troubleshoot issues. With free certificates, you’re pretty much on your own if you “trip over the cord and accidentally unplug the Christmas Tree” you may have to have the certificate re-keyed and your website might go off-line.
- Another reason is so your website can have that green bar (trust issue) with your company name, like you see in many big reputable companies. Check out Twitter.com as an example.
- The biggest upside to a paid SSL, however, is the length the key will work for until it needs to be renewed. Most paid certificates offer 1 – 2 year options. But with a free certificate, you’ll only likely get 3 months at a time. After that time, the certificate will become invalid. When this happens, your site will basically shut down. There’s a big page that pops up saying that it’s dangerous to enter your site and warns users before proceeding! Really, it looks bad. So then you have to call your certificate issuer and ask it to be renewed. This process can involve several steps for the issuer that may take up to a few days to get taken care of.
If you can afford your site going offline for a couple of days and you’re willing to call the issuer, then this option might be a good one for you.
Having said that, however, I called my host provider (Blue Host) last week and they told me I would NOT need to call every 3 months to have a free certificate renewed. So, perhaps there’s more hope for using this FREE option in the long haul.