There are plenty of Certificate Authorities (CA) that you can go for securing an SSL certificate on your website. The 10 providers that we’ve listed below are the places that we recommend due to their business track record and pricing.
SSL.com is a top rated certificate authority (see BBB rating A+ here) that was founded back in 2002. They offer a wide range of digital certificates such as SSL/TLS server certificates, document signing code signing, and S/MIME email certificates.
Being a leading authority in the industry, SSL.com offers a number of features for its users, such as 256-bit SHA2 https AES encryption, free site seal, 24/7 support, and free unlimited certificate reissues during the lifetime of the certificate.
NameCheap offers the full gamut of SSL certificates so you’ll find something there no matter what your requirements or budget. Standard Domain Validation certificates (PositiveSSL) start from $5.99 per year, but there are also premium certificates that go for up to $120.88 per year.
The SSL Store was founded in 2009. The company partnered with some of the biggest Certification Authorities (CAs) and offer a wide range of website security solutions. CAs in The SSL Store's partners list include: Symantec, RapidSSL, Thawte, Sectigo (Comodo), as well as GeoTrust.
Standard Domain Validation certificates (Positive SSL) start from $14.95 per year (RapidSSL), but there are also Organization Validated and Extrended Validation certificates that go for up to $2,600 per year.
While GoDaddy is more known for being a domain registrar with aggressive discounts for its first-time customers, they also offer SSL certification services. Their SSL certificates are often issued online within minutes and come with a 256-bit encryption.
SSL Features with GoDaddy
Padlock in the address bar
Protects unlimited servers
Display a security seal
Unlimited free reissues
24/7 security support
Strongest SHA2 & 2048-bit encryption
Up to $1 million liability protection
Certificate Types & Pricing:
Basic Domain Validation – starts from $63.99 /yr
Extended Validation (EV) SSL – starts from $159.99 /yr
Founded in 1996 and based in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, USA, GlobalSign is one of the more popular SSL Certificate Authority in the market.
GlobalSign established themselves as a well-reputed identity service company by providing cloud-based PKI solutions to business who wants their website to have secure connections, conduct safe e-commerce transactions, and perfect content delivery to its users and customers.
About GlobalSign SSL/TLD Solutions:
The same certificate to use for www.domain.com and domain.com
Using SHA-256 and 2048 bit RSA keys encryption
Over 2.5M certificates issued worldwide
WebTrust accredited CA since 2001
Free SSL installation and management tools
Up to $1.5 million warranty
ECC support available
Certificate Types & Pricing:
Domain Validated SSL (DV) – $249 /yr
Organization Validated SSL (OV) – $349 /yr
Extended Validated SSL (EV) – $599 /yr
Wildcard SSL Certificate – $849 /yr
The company motto for DigiCert is “Your success is built on trust”. This should give you a good idea of how seriously they take security. With a primary focus on SSL innovation, DigiCert aims to be the trusted security partner for all avenues of industry and commerce.
DigiCert was also the founding member of the CA/Browser Forum, and it's one of the few authorities involves in developing new SSL technology. The SSL certificates that they provide are OV Certificates, EV Certificates, and even DV Certificates for smaller businesses or websites.
Benefits of DigiCert
Trusted company – member of CA/Browser Forum
Secure both www.domain.com and domain.com
Free unlimited reissues for the lifetime
SHA-2 algorithm and 256-bit encryption
Free tools available for certificate management
Fast certificate issuance – within hours
Award-winning customer support
Certificate Types & Pricing:
Standard SSL -$218 /yr
EV SSL – $295 /yr
Multi-Domain SSL – $299 /yr
Wildcard SSL – $595 /yr
7. Thawte Security Solutions
Thawte has been known for providing affordable SSL certificates as well as 17 years of reliability. They offer a comprehensive list of SSL products which includes EV, OV, DV, SGC, Wildcard, and even SAN SSL certificates.
As a low-cost SSL certificate provider, Thawte SSL plans are priced reasonably with their cheapest price going for $149 per year which includes a number of features such as 256-bit encryption. There is an option available to add Wildcard to the plan with additional charges.
Benefits of Thawte
Thawte free trial SSL certificate for 21-day
Company's site seal logo available
Install the certificate on unlimited servers
Free re-issue certificate at no extra charge
Tools to help you manage and install the certificate
99% browser compatibility
Warranty up to $1.5 million
Certificate Types & Pricing:
SSL Web Server OV – $218 /yr
SSL Web Server with EV – $344 /yr
SSL 123 Certificate – $149 /yr
Code Signing – $474 /yr
At GeoTrust, you can opt for a number of SSL certificates which include True BusinessID with EV, True BusinessID, True BusinessID Wildcard, and QuickSSL premium. Among them all, True BusinessID with EV is the recommended SSL certificate with the highest assurance and warranty at a competitive price.
Startups and small business would find GeoTrust pricings attractive, plus they offer a number of features such as 256-bit encryptions, extended validation, warranty ranging from $100,000 to $1.5 million, 99% browsers compatibility, and unlimited customer support.
Benefits of GeoTrust
GeoTrust 30 days free trial SSL certificate
Short certificate issuance time
Certificate management console
Up to 256-bit encryption, 2048-bit root
Green browser address bar available
Warranty up to $1.5 million
Free SSL expert support
Certificate Types & Pricing
GeoTrust SSL (DV) – $149 /yr
True BusinessID (OV) – $238 /yr
True BusinessID (EV) – $344 /yr
True BusinessID Wildcard (OV) – $688 /yr
9. Entrust SSL Solutions
Entrust considers themselves as a forward-thinking company that provides security in a wide breadth of diverse industries. They provide security solutions for those in need of transactional security, secure mobile authentication, and of course, SSL certificates.
Entrust offers EV and OV SSL certificates with prices starting at $199 per year.
SHA-2 signing algorithms
RSA 2048 bit / 3072 bit / 4096 bit key
Security features included protecting against website vulnerabilities
Unlimited server licensing and reissues
Site seal security with the real-time check
Certificate management platform
Optional platinum support 24x7x365
Certificate Types & Pricing:
Standard (OV) – $199 /yr
Advantage OV – $239 /yr
UC Multi-Domain – $319 /yr
EV multi-domain – $429 /yr
Wildcard (OV) – $699 /yr
Document Signing – $315 /yr
10. Network Solutions
Established in 1979 and headquartered in Herndon, Virginia, USA, Network Solutions have constantly evolved their SSL services throughout the years and continues to provide the lowest priced SSL certificates for users.
Especially when it comes to multi-year term SSL certificates, Network Solutions offers some of the more affordable pricing in the market. For example, their nsProtect Secure Express will only set you back $59.99 for a 2-year term. In comparison, GoDaddy offers similar services that cost $63.99 per year.
Guarantee up to $1 million
Site seal and closed padlock available
99% browser recognition
Green address browser bar available
24/7 real person live support
Standard issuance time
Certificate Types & Pricing:
Xpress (DV) – $59.99 /yr
Basic (OV) – $124.50 /yr
Advanced (OV) – $199.50 /yr
Wildcard – $579.00 /yr
Extended (EV) – $399.50 /yr
What is SSL and SSL Certificate?
Secured Socket Layer (SSL) is the technology that makes sure data between two machines (in our case – a browser and a server) is transmitted securely in an encrypted connection (HTTPS).
An SSL Certificate is a digital certificate that confirms the identity of a website.
To implement SSL on your website, you will need to get an SSL Certificate from a SSL Certificate Provider, aka. Certification Authority.
How SSL connection works?
The following diagram shows how data is transferred through an SSL connection.
A user access a HTTPS website
User's browser requests a secure SSL connection from the server
The server responds with a valid SSL certificate
The secure connection is now established
Data is encrypted and transferred
How can I tell if a website has SSL connection?
The use of an SSL Certificate on a website is usually indicated by a padlock icon on web browsers and the website address will show HTTPS. In some cases, a green address bar is shown.
If a SSL certificate is not recognized by the browser (or it does not pass certain checks), the browser will display a warning to the visitor.
Things to Consider When Buying an SSL/TLS certificate
When you purchase an SSL/TLS certificate you’re making a decision on two primary questions:
What surface do you need to cover?
How much identity do you want to assert?
When you can answer these questions, picking a certificate becomes a matter of brand and cost, you’ll already know the product type you need.
Now, before we go any further let’s establish one very important fact: regardless of how you answer those two questions, all SSL/TLS certificates offer the same encryption strength.
Encryption strength is determined by a combination of the cipher suites supported and the computing power of the client and server on either end of the connection. The most expensive SSL/TLS certificate on the market and a completely free one are going to facilitate the same level of industry-standard encryption.
What varies with certificates are the level of identity and their functionality.
Let’s start with what surfaces you need to cover.
1. Certification Functionality: Single, Wildcard, Multi-Domain
Nowadays organizations have complicated web infrastructures, both internally and externally. We’re talking about multiple domains, sub-domains, mail servers, mobile applications, etc. Fortunately, SSL/TLS certificates have evolved alongside modern websites to help better secure them. There is a certificate type for every use case, but it’s incumbent upon you to know what your specific use case is going to be.
When you are purchasing an SSL certificate, you need to choose the number of domains you want to secure. There are three levels of certifications: Single, Wildcard, and Multi-Domain.
Single Domain SSL Certificate
Protection – Protects one domain name. A certificate bought for www.domain.com will only allow you to secure all the pages on www.domain.com/
Ideal for – Suitable for a single website, small to medium business managing a limited number of websites.
Wildcard SSL Certificate
Protection – Protects a single domain and all sub-domains of that domain. This certificate will secure www.domain.com, it also protects blog.domain.com, help.domain.com, etc.
Ideal for – Suitable for fast-growing business as this certificate will automatically secure any sub-domain added.
Multi-Domain SSL Certificate
Protection – Allow to protect up to 100 domains. A multi-domain certificate can secure multiple different domains such as domain-a.com, domain-1.com.sg, etc
Ideal for – Suitable for large business that has different entities. It's easy to manage and keep track using a single certificate.
After you figure out what surfaces you need to cover, it’s time to determine how much identity you want to assert. There are three levels of validation, these refer to the amount of vetting the Certificate Authority that issues your SSL/TLS certificate will put you and your website through.
There are three types of SSL certificate – Domain Validated (DV), Organizational Validated (OV), and Extended Validated (EV).
Domain Validated (DV)
The most basic level of validation is called Domain Validation. It takes just minutes to complete this validation and issue the certificate, but it provides the least identity information – authenticating just the server. DV SSL/TLS certificates are the most commonly used, but owing to their lack of identity, websites that use them receive neutral browser treatment.
Verification – DV only verifies that the applicant is the registrant of the domain.
Implementation time & costs – It takes few minutes to few hours. The fee is minimal.
Price range – Starting at $6 per year.
Ideal for – Suitable for small websites or blogs.
Organizational Validated (OV)
Organization Validation provides more organizational information, which gives your site’s visitors a better idea as to who they are dealing with, provided they know where to look. OV SSL/TLS certificates require a moderate amount of vetting, however, they do not assert enough identity to avoid neutral browser treatment. OV SSL certificates can secure dedicated IP addresses, too. They are commonly used in Enterprise environments and on internal networks.
Verification – OV verifies the ownership of the domain including full company name and address details.
Implementation time & costs – It might take a few days. The fee is higher than DV.
Price range – Starting at $20 per year.
Ideal for – Suitable for organizations and medium-sized businesses.
Extended Validated (EV)
The most identity an SSL/TLS certificate can assert comes at the Extended Validation level. EV SSL/TLS certificates require in-depth vetting by the CA, but they assert enough identifying information that web browsers will give websites that deploy them unique treatment – displaying their verified Organizational name in the browser’s address bar.
Verification – EV requires an extensive validation of the business that turns the address bar to green.
Implementation time & costs – It might take up to weeks. EV is the most expensive SSL certificate.
Price range – Starting at $70 per year.
Ideal for – Suitable for websites that conduct financial transactions.
Here are examples of different types of validation.
But Which SSL Certificate Provider to Buy From?
That depends on what you’re looking for.
For many simple websites that don’t need to assert much identity, a free DV SSL/TLS certificate from Let’s Encrypt is a good choice. It doesn’t cost anything and it’s sufficient for what you need.
Anything north of that, or if you’re not especially technically savvy, you should go with a commercial Certificate Authority like DigiCert, Sectigo, Entrust Datacard, etc.
But here’s the thing: You don’t get the best pricing buying direct from the CAs.
Dedicated CA vs SSL Resellers
You get the best combination of pricing and selection by purchasing through an SSL Service offering SSL/TLS certificates from multiple CAs like SSL.com, NameCheap and The SSL Store mentioned above. The reason for this is simple, these SSL services purchase certificates from the CAs in bulk at much lower pricing than retail customers get. That lets them sell the certificates at deeply discounted rates, passing the savings to consumers.
In some cases, you can save as much as 85% off manufacturer's suggested retail price by going through an SSL service instead of buying direct.
Keep in mind, dedicated SSL services specialize in SSL/TLS, they’re going to offer better customer support, they can help you install it and they know how to optimize your implementations to provide your website the best possible security.
Free vs Paid SSL Providers
Contrast that with free CAs (and even some commercial ones) where you’ve got to work through a ticket system or sift through old forum posts for crowdsourced support and the value is clear. Granted, for some tech-savvy website owners, the support issue isn’t a problem. And there’s certainly nothing wrong with going the free route if you know how to support everything yourself.
But for other site owners, you’re paying less for the certificate itself and more for the support apparatus that’s been built around it. You also don’t have access to higher validation levels (OV/EV) or advanced functionality (Multi-Domain, Wildcards) with free SSL/TLS. You’ve got to get those from commercial CAs or SSL services.
Are Cheap SSL Deals Okay?
“Branded” SSL vs Cheap SSL
A cheap SSL offers the same security as the expensive ones. So in most cases, there is no need to opt for a “branded” SSL certificate – which be expensive.
The only time that you should really consider purchasing an expensive SSL certificate is if you’re a big eCommerce company that’s looking to perform transactions on a device that uses its own proprietary software.
Larger businesses should also opt for a “branded” SSL certificate as part of your due diligence process. The reason for this is that the companies issuing these certificates often have reputable track records which might be necessary for selection justification.
Preparation Before Purchasing
To make sure that your SSL purchase process goes smoothly, we recommend that you get the following things ready.
A unique website IP address
A certificate signing request (CSR)
Updated and correct WHOIS record
Validation documents for your business/organization
How to Install an SSL Certificate to Your Website
How to setup SSL on cPanel
Under ‘Security’ options, click on ‘SSL/TLS Manager’
Under ‘Install and Manage SSL’, select ‘Manage SSL Sites’
Copy your certificate code including —–BEGIN CERTIFICATE—– and —–END CERTIFICATE—– and paste it into the “Certificate: (CRT)” field.
Click ‘Autofill by Certificate’
Copy and paste the chain of intermediate certificates (CA Bundle) into the box under Certificate Authority Bundle (CABUNDLE)
Click ‘Install Certificate’
* Note: If you are not using a dedicated IP address you will have to select one from the IP Address menu.
How to setup SSL on Plesk
Go to the Websites & Domains tab and choose which domain you’d like to install the certificate for.
Click ‘Secure Your Sites’
Under the ‘Upload Certificate Files’ segment, click ‘Browse’ and choose the certificate and the CA bundle files necessary.
Click ‘Send Files’
Go back to ‘Websites & Domains’ then click on ‘Hosting settings’ for the domain you’re installing the certificate on.
Under ‘Security’, there should be a drop-down menu for you to select the certificate.
If you check your website’s internal links you will notice that they are all using HTTP. Obviously these need to be updated to HTTPS links. Now in a few steps we’ll show you a way to do this globally using a redirection technique.
However, it is best practice to update your internal links from HTTP to HTTPS.
If you’ve got a small website with just a few pages that shouldn’t take too long. However if you have hundreds of pages it would take ages so you’d be better off using a tool to automate this to save time. If your site runs on database, perform database search and replace using this free script.
Update links pointing to your site
Once you switch to HTTPS if you have external websites linking to you they will be pointing to the HTTP version. We’ll be setting up a redirection in a few steps time, but if there are any external websites where you control your profile then you can update the URL to point to the HTTPS version.
Good examples of these would be your social media profiles and any directory listings where you have a profile page that’s under your control.
Setup a 301 Redirect
OK onto the techie bit and if you’re not confident with this type of thing then it’s definitely time to get some expert assistance. It’s pretty straightforward and doesn’t take much time at all in fact, but you just need to know what you’re doing.
With a 301 Redirect what you’re doing is telling Google that a particular page has been permanently moved to another address. In this case you’re going to tell Google that any HTTP pages on your site are now HTTPS so it redirects Google to the correct pages.
This is actually an optional step because not everyone uses a CDN. CDN stands for Content Delivery Network and it’s a geographically distributed set of servers that store copies of your web files and they present them to your visitors from a geographically close server to improve the speed that it loads for them.
As well as performance improvements, a CDN can also offer better security because it’s servers can monitor and identify malicious traffic and stop it reaching your website.
Either way, just ask your hosting company if you are using a CDN. If you aren’t fine, just move on to the next step.
If you are then you need to contact the CDN and ask them for instructions to update your SSL so that their CDN system recognizes it.
Frequent Asked Questions on SSL
What is SSL and TLS actually?
SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer, and it was the original version of the encryption protocol that we use to secure our connections to this day. We got all the way to SSL 3.0 before vulnerabilities forced the industry back to the drawing board, where Transport Layer Security (TLS) was designed to be SSL’s successor. Today we are on TLS 1.3, SSL 3.0 has been almost entirely deprecated and by 2020 TLS 1.0 and 1.1 will be deprecated, too. While today’s internet relies almost exclusively on the TLS protocol, it’s still colloquially known as SSL.
Why do we need an SSL certificate?
The primary reason for using an SSL certificate is to make sure the data sent across the Internet become encrypted. So, everyone else can't read the information except for the server you are sending the information to. This can prevent hackers and cyber-thieves from stealing your data. Also, having an SSL certificate can earn your visitors' trust because the visitors know their data is secure.
It's recommended to install an SSL certificate for your online store even though it's not compulsory. SSL certificate encrypts customer data, sensitive information, payment details, etc and keeps it protected during transfer. Besides securing the website, by installing an SSL certificate, it helps to gain customers' trust and encourage them for safe and secure online shopping.
What's the difference between a free SSL certificate and a paid SSL certificate?
There's no difference in security between a free SSL certificate and a paid SSL certificate. The major differences between both are in terms of the type of certificate, level of validation, support and warranty. For instance, free SSL certificates only come with Domain Validation (DV) and no warranty. On the other hand, a paid SSL certificate covers everything you required.
This is where different pricing also comes into play with SSL certificates. Warranties on paid SSL certificates can differ vastly – from as low as a few thousand dollars up to two million dollars (As far as we know, only DigiCert goes this high).
What SSL certificate do I need?
If you are running a small website or a blog, a Domain Validation (DV) certificate is good enough. If your website conducts financial transactions, it's best to go for an Extended Validation (EV) certificate that turns the address bar to green.
Is free SSL safe?
Yes, there's no risk of using a free SSL certificate. However, a free SSL certificate does have some shortcomings such as limited period, only offers domain validated, no support from the company, and no warranty. If you are running an online store, a free SSL certificate might not be a suitable choice.
How do I purchase an SSL certificate?
You can buy SSL certificates from a Certificate Authority (CA). These are companies that digitally sign your SSL certificate. Alternatively, many web hosting service providers also act as SSL resellers.
How much does an SSL cost?
SSL certificates are available in various tiers, with the most basic starting at around $10 per year. The more advanced certs are upwards of $300 or more. Personal websites can use free Let’s Encrypt SSL certificates.
Can I buy SSL from anywhere?
You can buy SSL from many places. The only important thing is that you buy it from a reputable company with a good reputation for providing quality products and services. Examples of reputable SSL companies include Comodo, DigiCert, and GeoTrust.
Can I purchase SSL certificate from Google?
Google does not sell SSL certificates. However, some Google products include automatic issuance and installation of SSL certificates. For example, Google Sites, Google My Business, and Firebase.
Do I need to pay for SSL certificate?
You don’t always need to pay for an SSL certificate. A free SSL certificate from Let’s Encrypt is acceptable in some cases. However, websites that sell products or services online or store user data should get a commercial SSL certificate.
Does GoDaddy provide free SSL?
GoDaddy does not provide free SSL certificates except in a few cases. For example, you won’t get a free SSL with their basic web hosting plans. Those that include SSL certificates are generally their more expensive options.
Is Extended Validation worth it?
For many websites, an EV SSL/TLS certificate is more of an investment than an expense. There is no other way to assert maximum identity and get your website preferential browser treatment. When visitors arrive at a website and see the organization’s name displayed in the address bar it has a profound psychological effect. While that effect is difficult to quantify on paper, surveys consistently find that people feel better about visiting sites with EV than visiting sites without it. On the internet, every little bit counts, so if you’re an organization that wants to assert identity on the web, EV SSL/TLS certificates are the best available method to do so.
Are SSL warranties important?
It’s nice to have a large warranty with any product, and the SSL/TLS industry provides some of the most generous warranties out there. They pay out in the event that the CA that issued your certificate ever encounters a problem that costs your organization money. Admittedly, this isn’t all that common, which is kind of an endorsement for SSL/TLS certificates in general, but also something we’d be remiss not to point out.
About Jerry Low
Founder of WebHostingSecretRevealed.net (WHSR) - a hosting review trusted and used by 100,000's users. More than 15 years experience in web hosting, affiliate marketing, and SEO. Contributor to ProBlogger.net, Business.com, SocialMediaToday.com, and more.