SSL stands for Secure Socket layer. It protects a website by encrypting data during transfer between servers and browsers so that malicious third parties cannot look at and take advantage of the information. This information can be anything from a visitor’s email address to their credit card details. An SSL-secured site usually has a green padlock at the leftmost of the URL bar.
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To get SSL protection, you need an SSL certificate. However, purchasing one may be costly and have features that smaller websites don’t really need. In this article, I will guide you on how to get an SSL certificate for free.
1. Hosting Provider
You need web hosting to create a website and put it online. Hosting providers usually bundle this service in packages that include other benefits for website owners, such as free domain name registration.
Some web hosts also offer a free SSL certificate with the purchase of a hosting plan. It comes with a one-click installer as well – all you need to do is find the SSL menu in the control panel. Then, choose the domain to install the certificate to it, and wait until it’s done.
2. Domain Registrar
Domain registrars are ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) accredited businesses or organizations that handle domain name reservation and purchase. When a person wants to buy a domain name, they have to get it through a registrar.
Just like hosting packages, some registrars throw in several handy features with a purchase of their services. It includes a free SSL certificate that can be installed manually through the web hosting control panel.
In case your hosting provider or domain registrar does not offer an SSL certificate in the package, get one for free from ZeroSSL. It is beginner-friendly as installations only need one click from the account dashboard.
ZeroSSL offers a free-forever plan. All you need to do is create an account and sign up for the 90-day free SSL certificate. Enter the domain name you want to protect with SSL, then a step-by-step installation guide will appear and all you have to do is follow until completion.
Once the certificate expires, you can reinstall it up to three times. If you wish to renew after that, the Pro plan starts from $96 and is valid for one year.
4. Let’s Encrypt
Let’s Encrypt is created by a non-profit organization that provides completely free to use SSL certificates. There are no limits to certificate renewals, and there are setting you can apply to automatically renew them after the 90-days expiration period.
The downside is, installing Let’s Encrypt may require technical knowledge and is slightly overwhelming for complete beginners. First, you need to install the application, set NGINX up, then enter prompts to make Let’s Encrypt generate certificates for the website. I recommend reading more about how to install an SSL certificate using Let’s Encrypt.
If you run a small business, you may like Comodo’s free SSL certificate. They have a $500,000 warranty if the certificate fails to protect the website and an end-user loses money during a transaction. Moreover, their customer support is available 24/7 in case of inquiries and emergencies.
To get one, sign up for a free SSL certificate on the website. Then, submit a CSR (certificate signing request) to let the certificate authorities validate the user’s authenticity. After they verify your website, they will give you a certificate that you can manually install through your hosting control panel.
However, you can only issue one free certificate for each domain. It expires in 90 days, and upon renewal, the basic plan starts from $125 per year.
WoSign provides the perfect free SSL certificate for bloggers and personal websites. Its Class 1 certificates are quick and easy to install as no owner verifications are required. All you need to do is confirm ownership to the email address connected to your website, and they will generate a free SSL certificate that you can simply install.
The WoSign SSL certificate is completely free and renewable, but it only supports one domain. Users will be charged $1,99 per year for any additional domains.
Installations may differ for various webserver types. I suggest reading more about how to install a WoSign certificate on the website.
7. Instant SSL
If you’re looking to purchase a premium SSL certificate and would like to try the features, sign up for the 30-day free trial from Instant SSL. They are compatible with all popular browsers and 100% risk-free with a $250,000 warranty for any security breach.
To get the free trial, talk to their customer service through InstantSSL’s website. They will guide you to get a free 30-day trial SSL certificate that you can install on your website within minutes.
An SSL certificate is a must, especially for business websites that handle transactions daily. Failure to secure a transaction may result in putting customers at a disadvantage, and if they lose money, you may have to pay a considerable sum of penalties.
There are plenty of ways and alternatives to get a free SSL certificate, which I have listed in this article. All there’s left to do is install one for your website to protect it from malicious third parties. Good luck, and if there are any questions, don’t hesitate to leave them in the comments section below.