Top 9 Best SSL Certificate Providers
Sectigo is one of the best-known SSL providers because it offers all relevant certificate types, fast validation, excellent support, and useful features for enterprise-level businesses. All certificates come with a few handy tools, one of the most recognizable trust seals out there, and a hefty liability warranty. Factor in pretty reasonable prices, and it’s apparent why Sectigo sports a stellar reputation.
Things we liked / disliked
- Comprehensive offer
- Top-notch support
- Fair prices
- Requires a five-year commitment for the best price
90% of Fortune 500 companies choose DigiCert as their SSL provider. The company offers a bunch of OV and EV certificate variations. Its products range from standard ones to really advanced solutions like ECC cryptography. The offer is completed with brilliant support and the prestigious Norton trust seal. DigiCert is a robust provider for business sites.
Things we liked / disliked
- Norton trust seal
- Superb support
- A bunch of excellent features
- No DV certificates
GeoTrust is a subsidiary of DigiCert but one of the best SSL certificate providers in its own right. It has a standard feature offer, bolstered with great support and fair prices. GeoTrust really shines in selling certificates in bulk. You can get huge discounts by purchasing a large number of SSL certificates, making it a perfect choice for larger companies and resellers.
Things we liked / disliked
- Massive discounts
- Knowledgeable support staff
- Highly trusted
- Vetting can take time
- Live chat not available 24/7
RapidSSL focuses on helping the average Joe. It offers DV certificates at a low price of $49.50/year—a great deal if you want to secure a blog or a personal website. It may offer little beyond that, but it’s the perfect match for smaller websites.
Things we liked / disliked
- Simple and affordable
- The renewal policy lets you get a few extra days added to the registration
- Great cybersecurity newsletter
- Only DV certificates
- Support only available during business hours
SecureTrust takes a unique approach and offers exclusively multi-domain and wildcard certificates. The prices are absolutely incredible if you need to secure several domains. If you secure the maximum number of domains, OV ends up costing you about $31.50/year per domain, which is ridiculously low. The offer is bolstered by the awesome support and fast validation. There’s a lot to love about SecureTrust.
Things we liked / disliked
- Insanely good value
- Stellar support
- Lets you get OV SSL in your personal name
- No DV certificates
- No single domain certificates
Aside from classic certificate types, SSL.com offers Premium SSL, which lets you secure a domain and up to three subdomains without overpaying for wildcard. Certificates are affordable across the board, support is a tremendous help, and validation usually takes about a day. SSL.com does a great job of making digital certificates accessible to everyone.
Things we liked / disliked
- Very affordable
- Premium SSL lets you affordably secure up to 3 subdomains
- Helpful support team
- EV certificate doesn’t apply to both WWW and non-WWW domain variants
- Requires a five-year commitment for the best price
Entrust Datacard is a business-oriented provider. It offers advanced (and useful) features like RSA/ECC hybrid cryptography and powerful malware scanning. Aside from standard OV and EV certificates, it sells Advantage OV SSL, which lets you affordably secure two domains. As for other certificates, the prices are fairly low-end as well. Add the reliable support, and Entrust is an attractive provider for business owners.
Things we liked / disliked
- Advanced features
- Great two-domain option
- Pretty affordable for up to 10 domains
- No DV or single domain EV certificates
- Support has Saturdays off
- Slightly longer vetting process
GlobalSign is one of the most popular authorities for larger organizations. It’s single domain certificates offer a pretty unique feature of securing mailing subdomains, which can come in handy. The pricing model, with up to 80% discounts for bulk purchase, definitely makes it more lucrative if you need multiple certificates.
Things we liked / disliked
- Awesome features
- Solid support
- Great features and discounts for running multiple certificates
- No live chat support
- Pricy for getting individual certificates
Network Solutions is a big name in the digital services industry. Unfortunately, its SSL service is hardly noteworthy. The company employs some dubious practices like charging you for faster validation. What’s more, the support is mediocre at best, and there are few unique features to speak of. Network Solutions does have a low entry price, but this doesn’t fully redeem the lacking service.
Things we liked / disliked
- Affordable certificates
- Charges for faster validation
- Unimpressive support
- No live chat
Brand trust and loyalty are crucial for success. If consumers don’t trust you, they’ll never buy your products.
Stats paint a bleak picture for website owners—85% of shoppers avoid websites without SSL.
The answer is as simple as they come—get an SSL certificate and become much more trustworthy.
Unfortunately, 58% of phishing websites already use a free SSL like Let’s Encrypt. Free certificates provide little protection from scammers.
There’s little sense in sugarcoating it—mistrust is at an all-time high, and you need to go the extra mile to look legit.
Purchasing a certificate from one of the best SSL certificate providers is the best recourse here.
Practice shows paid SSL works, especially if you get a stronger validation level. 100% of security-aware consumers would rather do business with an EV-validated website, and 67% avoid doing business with sites without extended validation.
It’s obvious – getting proper validation from a proper certificate authority practically equals better user retention. The only question is which SSL provider and certificate to go with.
To help you secure your website and improve your profit margin, we reviewed the best places to get an SSL certificate. Read on to find out which one gives you the best bang for your buck.
Sectigo, previously known as Comodo CA, is one of the world’s leading SSL providers. It is also something of an SSL celebrity, as it was the one to invent EV certificates.
Let’s see how it matches up against other SSL certificate providers.
Types of SSL
Sectigo offers all relevant types of SSL.
You can get a single domain, wildcard, or multi-domain certificates with domain or organization validation. EV certificates are available in single or multi-domain variants.
Other Encryption Types
Although not strictly SSL-related, Sectigo also offers encryption for emails or documents, which are useful for hiding business correspondence. Code signing certificates are there to ensure the integrity of digital applications. These are offered by most authorities that sell SSL certificates and can be pretty useful.
Sectigo also offers a free 30-day trial for its single domain DV SSL certificate. After that, you can easily upgrade it to a paid certificate.
Handy and Easy to Use
Sectigo throws in an intuitive certificate manager. This tool makes it easy to renew, replace, and generally manage all certificates.
Sectigo also throws in a tool that checks if your entire website is encrypted properly. You also get a PCI-compliance checker with unlimited uses.
All in all, Sectigo has a comprehensive offer.
Domain validation is pretty simple, as with every SSL provider. Everything goes through email and takes all of a few minutes.
Getting an OV certificate requires documents about the registration of your company. Sectigo will also need to phone either you or someone from your organization.
The whole process should take about 24 hours once Sectigo receives your documents. Everything goes much faster if details about your business are available online.
OV SSL for Private Users
Sectigo also lets you apply for OV as an individual. You’d go through the same steps, but you’d need to provide a personal document and a recent major utility bill or bank statement.
It’s as simple as that.
Easy Extended Validation
EV certificates require everything OV certificates do, plus a few extra documents and verification against several databases. This ensures your business is active and isn’t known for any scammy activities.
The Sectigo team will look up most of the information, so you might not even have to deliver additional documents. The whole process should take under five workdays.
All certificates come with unlimited server licenses, so you can easily reissue the certificate if you need to.
A few users did complain the process can drag out longer than specified. Verifying a business can be tricky, so this is always a possibility, even with the very best SSL certificate providers.
Sectigo support is available 24/7 through email ticketing, phone, and live chat.
The support team is efficient and gets predominantly positive reviews. The company employs some of the best experts in the business, so you can get proper assistance when you need it.
Sectigo also maintains an extensive knowledge base. It makes a fantastic reference point if you’re new to SSL.
EV certificate owners get priority support. The support agents usually get back to you instantly anyway, though.
All in all, Sectigo is one of the top SSL certificate providers when it comes to customer support.
All plans include a Sectigo trust seal you can embed into your website. Since Sectigo is one of the most popular CAs, this is one of the most recognizable and trusted seals. Only the Norton seal may carry the same prestige.
Starting at $79/year for a single domain DV SSL, Sectigo offers cheap SSL certificates. All certificate prices are on the low end, but you must prepay for five years to get the best deals.
Note that while multi-domain certificates are affordable, they only allow you to encrypt up to three domains for the default price. If you need to secure more domains, you must pay extra.
This is standard practice, and Sectigo makes securing additional domains more affordable than most providers.
The warranty depends on the certificate you get. It’s $500,000 for DV, $1,000,000 for OV, and $1,500,000 for EV certificates. The warranty is respectable—many certificate issuers limit the DV warranty to $10,000, so Sectigo is generous.
Bottom line—you get stellar service at an affordable price.
Affordable and comprehensive, Sectigo is a provider to be reckoned with. It offers a choice of trusted certificates for websites of all shapes and sizes.
Overall, Sectigo is one of the top SSL certificate providers of 2020.
DigiCert is a high-end certificate provider. Its clients include Fortune 500 companies like Amazon and Facebook, which is about as good a recommendation as you can get.
Let’s look at what services it has on offer.
Types of SSL
DigiCert styles itself a high-end SSL certificate issuer for businesses and organizations. That’s why the lowest validation level is OV.
You can get single and multi-domain OV and EV certificates. The OV level also supports wildcard and SAN wildcard variants.
DigiCert has a strange naming pattern for its certificates. All certificate types are available in three variants—Standard, Secure Site, and Secure Site Pro.
Standard SSL certificates are, as the name suggests, just ordinary OV and EV certificates. This is the cheapest type of SSL certificate in DigiCert’s offer.
There’s little unusual about them, except that they support 3072 and 4096-bit public key encryption. 2048-bit keys are nigh-impossible to crack, but these levels of encryption are more future-proof than standard certificates.
All certificates also support RSA keys and ECC ones. ECC keys are much shorter, which mitigates any delay SSL might cause. It may take more effort to implement them properly, though.
Secure Site SSL with a Few Advanced Features
Secure Site SSL certificates cost more, but they add priority support and a couple of goodies.
You’ll get features like Norton Secured seal (which customers love), a malware checker, and a $1.750,000 warranty. This is also the first level that lets you use the DigiCert certificate management platform.
Secure Site Pro SSL with a Bunch of Advanced Features
The last level raises the warranty to $2 million and adds functions like 24/7 certificate monitoring.
One unusual feature on this level is post-quantum cryptography. If you’re worried about quantum computers becoming unstoppable security busters, DigiCert has your back.
DigiCert offers a variety of options—from pretty standard to cutting-edge. There’s enough in its offer to satisfy the requirements of any business.
It is the best place to get an SSL certificate if you want a range of solutions for your organization.
The first step is verifying you own the domain name you want to get a certificate for. This is as simple as receiving an email from DigiCert.
From there, you’ll need to provide a few documents.
You’ll need to provide a document showing your company is registered. If the document you send doesn’t list the address of your organization, you should also include a proof of address like a utility bill.
DigiCert can then check with the registration authority and see that your company really exists. It’ll also attempt to confirm your company isn’t involved in any fraudulent activities.
Fast Validation through DigiCert’s Online Portal
You can upload everything to your DigiCert account, though, which speeds things up.
And that’s about it. DigiCert may ask you to verify your identity in more ways than one, but the process is straightforward in most cases.
The company website states most certificates are validated in an hour. Realistically, you can expect to get your certificate in a day or two.
DigiCert is one of the most trusted digital certificate authorities, so the validation is well worth it.
You can get support through all the standard channels—phone, email, and live chat.
DigiCert’s support quality is impressive. The agents are adept at resolving SSL-related issues.
That said, the live chat can be pretty buggy, especially if the support is getting swamped with requests. It can be an annoyance at times.
The support is excellent, but it could be more accessible.
DigiCert offers twelve different SSL combinations with various discounts based on subscription length. Understandably, it has one of the most complicated pricing tables among certificate authorities.
The starting prices are at $207/year for standard SSL, $347/year for Secure Site, and $995/year for Secure Site Pro.
You have an array of choices. Considering the validation level starts at OV, the pricing is fair.
Secure Site Pro plans provide good value for enterprise-level organizations, but they are overkill for small businesses.
All things considered, DigiCert has a lucrative offer for all business owners.
DigiCert is one of the best SSL certificate authorities for businesses of all sizes. It justifies all the attention it gets from its high-end clientele.
GeoTrust is one of the oldest and most trusted certificate authorities. It is currently owned by DigiCert but operates independently.
Here’s what it offers.
Types of SSL
Although GeoTrust gives colorful names to its certificates, it has an offer similar to most SSL certificate vendors. It has DV, OV, and EV certificates with the possibility of adding wildcard and SAN functionality.
The certificates are comparable to those of its parent company. GeoTrust does throw DV into the mix. Also, unlike DigiCert, which adds a bunch of bells and whistles, GeoTrust keeps it pretty vanilla.
One unique feature of GeoTrust is the SSL for the Enterprise program.
This lets you get discounts for purchasing SSL certificates in bulk. You can also pre-vet your account, so you can get certificates without going through the validation process.
GeoTrust’s control panel makes this process easy. You can purchase credits and use them to renew certificates, which simplifies renewing multiple certificates at different times.
SSL for Enterprise makes GeoTrust one of the better digital certificate companies for larger businesses.
The first thing you will notice about GeoTrust is that the website looks kind of dated. Luckily, the appearance is deceiving in this case—you can easily navigate the interface and get the certificate you need.
The vetting for an OV certificate is straightforward. You need to prove you own the domain name and that your organization exists. If your business’s phone number or address are not specified in official records, you can send a utility bill or some other document. GeoTrust will also confirm your order via phone.
It’s standard procedure for getting OV SSL and usually takes about a day.
Thorough EV Vetting
EV procedure depends on a variety of factors. GeoTrust typically asks for specific documentation on an individual basis. This can be standard registration documents or something like an opinion letter from a lawyer familiar with your organization.
GeoTrust has a strict validation process, so you might need to wait a few days longer than average. As a tradeoff, you do get validation from one of the most trusted SSL certificate providers out there, so it’s worth the wait.
Support is available via phone, email, and live chat.
The support agents are pretty knowledgeable and can quickly solve problems. Most users claim everything is so well-designed they never need to contact support, though.
That said, chat support isn’t available 24/7. It’s just a small issue, but having round the clock support would give some peace of mind.
GeoTrust’s pricing is the same as DigiCert’s—it’s not the most affordable SSL certificate provider, but not the most expensive one either.
DV certificates start at $130.50/year, OV starts at $212/year and EV at $327/year.
The pricing is what you’d expect, but it’s worth it if you want a well-known CA to back you up.
If you need a bunch of SSL certificates for business, GeoTrust offers excellent discounts through “SSL for the Enterprise” program. It’s one of the top providers of SSL certificates in bulk.
GeoTrust is a reliable choice. Its choice of certificates comes with one of the most recognizable trust seals out there.
Where it really shines, though, is letting large organizations bulk purchase certificates. It’s one of the best SSL certificate providers of 2020 if you need to get a bunch of certificates imat once.
RapidSSL is owned by GeoTrust, which makes it a part of DigiCert. As you might have noticed, the structure of some companies out there is a real mess. What’s important is they offer different services, and each can be treated as a separate certificate authority.
Essentially, DigiCert is something like the GoDaddy of SSL, sans the bad reputation. RapidSSL works under it, and so do a bunch of other providers.
Unlike its parent companies, RapidSSL focuses on the average consumer. Let’s see how its offer reflects this.
Types of SSL
RapidSSL uses GeoTrust’s infrastructure to provide SSL certificates. While the parent company focuses on OV and EV, RapidSSL offers DV SSL exclusively.
Straightforward SSL Solution
You can only get a single domain or wildcard DV certificate, which is fine for basic encryption. There’s no SAN option, so RapidSSL is not the best SSL provider for securing several domains.
The certificates have a $10,000 warranty, which is fine for DV.
You can get a trust seal, but it’s just a GIF file. It can’t dynamically display info about your certificate, and it’s hardly recognizable. Dynamic seals aren’t a huge concern with DV, so this doesn’t bring down the value of the certificate.
All in all, RapidSSL offers basic DV SSL with few extras. It focuses on being the best certificate authority for small, simple websites.
Since you can only get DV certificates, you only need to prove you own the domain you want to secure. You can do this through email or by uploading a specific file to your website.
And that’s it. Domain validation is automatic, so you can get a certificate almost instantly.
RapidSSL has email, phone, and chat support. The support team is only available during business hours, though, so you’re mostly on your own.
The support quality is just okay. Agents do their job well, but rarely go out of their way to help.
Still, Rapid SSL is hardly the best SSL certificate issuer in terms of tech support.
The knowledge base fares little better. There are a total of three guides you can get actual value from.
RapidSSL redirects you to DigiCert for instructions on installing the certificate, which can be helpful. It would still inspire more trust if it had its own knowledge base.
The support is pretty bare bones. One redeeming feature is that you can subscribe to RapidSSL’s newsletter. This keeps you updated about security news and any newly discovered threats.
It’s not much, but the newsletter actually provides good value, and RapidSSL doesn’t use it to push upsells.
RapidSSL focuses on letting everyone buy a low-cost SSL certificate.
A single domain certificate is $59/year, but you can lower the price to $49.50/year by prepaying for two years. Likewise, a wildcard SSL is $249/year paid annually or $224.50/year paid biennially.
RapidSSL has a weird renewal policy. You can renew your certificate before it expires and add the remaining time to your renewed certificate.
The system rounds up the time added to 30-day increments. You can get a few extra days on each renewal. If you’re so inclined, you can even strategically time renewals to maximize the value. Just keep in mind that RapidSSL might fix this in the future.
The pricing is excellent if you need to secure just one site. If you’re looking for something more advanced, GeoTrust, its parent company, might just be the best place to buy an SSL certificate for business owners.
RapidSSL looks to cater to users with simple needs. Its affordable DV certificates are fantastic for securing blogs, forums, or other simple sites.
The low price does incur some drawbacks, like lack of 24/7 support.
All in all, RapidSSL does the job if you want to secure a single budding website. If you have something more complex on your hands, look into SSL providers with more high-end offers.
SecureTrust is a subsidiary, as well as one of the intermediate certificate authorities, of TrustWave Holdings. TrustWave is one of the top security companies, but it only sells certificates through SecureTrust.
Here’s what its offer includes.
Types of SSL
SecureTrust specializes in OV and EV certificates, making it more suitable for businesses.
The provider takes a unique approach here and offers only multi-domain certificates. The only single domain certificate is in wildcard OV variant.
One-of-a-kind SAN Certificates
Its OV and EV certificates each have 5 pricing tiers that let you secure up to 5, 10, 20, 50, or 100 domains.
This model might seem strange. However, you can get sweet deals if you need to secure multiple domains.
Plus, the 5-domain certificate is fantastic for complex websites like online stores. It lets you secure a domain and four subdomains without paying for the three times more expensive WildCard option.
The liability warranty is $250,000 across the board, which is okay for most businesses.
SecureTrust might just have the best SSL certificate for ecommerce and other complex projects.
SecureTrust makes validation straightforward. You first need to prove domain ownership through email. From there, the company will try to look up all the info about your organization.
You’ll only have to provide an official document about company registration if nothing is available online.
OV For Private Users
One thing most CAs refuse, but SecureTrust allows, is getting an OV certificate without owning a company. With the latter, you just need to provide some form of ID, and the certificate can be made out in your personal name. You can use this to build a brand around yourself.
SecureTrust makes purchasing SSL certificates quick and easy.
Support is available 24/7 via all the standard channels—live chat, email, and phone.
SecureTrust prides itself on excellent service, and customer support reflects this. You get near-instant responses, and the agents are courteous and helpful. It has one of the top support teams in the industry.
Unfortunately, there isn’t much of a knowledge base to speak of. It might come as a disappointment to DIY users, but you can rely on the support to help you with mostly all issues.
The OV SSL certificate price is $157.49/year if you want to secure up to five domains. If you want to secure up to ten, it goes up to $494.10/year. The price per domain falls as you go to higher price tiers.
You’re essentially getting the best deal if you go for the five-domain certificate. It’s odd, but that’s the price tag.
It’s a similar deal with EV certificates. Price is $233.10/year for up to five domains, which is excellent. The price goes up to $899.10/year for ten domains and is $1799.10/year for twenty, which is virtually the same value.
Lowest Price Around
If you apply the certificates to maximum domains, you’re getting amazing prices. Securing five domains with the smallest certificate gets you organization validation for around $30 per domain. Such deal is pretty much impossible to find anywhere else.
The deals are fantastic if you have several domains or subdomains and want to put them under one certificate. SecureTrust definitely qualifies as the best cheap SSL certificate provider.
SecureTrust offers no single domain SSL, but its multi-domain certificates more than make up for it. If you have several domains on your hands, you can take advantage of some of the best deals in the industry.
With a name like SSL.com, how could you not love it? The company focuses on making SSL easily accessible to anyone, and you’ll find no shortage of SSL.com reviews praising it for it.
Here’s how it delivers on its promises.
Types of SSL
SSL.com offers the three standard validation levels.
While DV and OV single domain certificates apply to both the www and non-www variants of your domain, EV certificates secure only one. EV is also limited to a two-year registration, while DV and OV allow up to five years. It’s something to keep in mind if you’re going for an extended validation SSL.
Unique Premium SSL variant
Apart from the wildcard and SAN certificate variants, SSL.com offers something called Premium SSL.
This certificate has standard domain validation, but it can secure the main domain and three subdomains. You can completely secure a small-ish site with a few subdomains without splurging on a wildcard certificate.
One thing to note is the warranty on single domain and Premium SSL is relatively small—just $10,000. Insurance is rarely a decisive factor when choosing a certificate, though, and $10,000 is sufficient for a DV certificate.
SSL.com covers the basics well and also has the best SSL certificates for securing a website with up to three subdomains
Validation is straightforward on your end. You just need to sign a few agreements and deliver your Dun & Bradstreet number. The SSL.com team will attempt to look up all the required info.
You might need to deliver a few more documents and answer a phone call or two. That’s about it, though.
Instant SSL Encryption
SSL.com also does customers a solid and issues a DV certificate as soon as you apply for extended validation. That way, you get a placeholder till validation is complete.
The whole EV procedure needs to be repeated every two years. This is standard practice, but SSL.com is more open about it than most providers.
Even trusted root certificate authorities tend to surprise users here, so kudos to SSL.com for the transparency.
If you want faster validation, you can get domains pre-vetted so you can get an SSL issued instantly.
Extended validations can take up to a week. Many customers praise SSL.com for delivering their certificates within a day, though.
Support is available 24/7 via email, phone, and live chat.
Support is run by real SSL experts. They can install certificates for you and help you with most issues.
The knowledge base is slim, but it explains the core concepts well. You can benefit from flipping through a few articles, even though it’s a poor long-term reference point.
All in all, SSL.com’s support is helpful, even though some of the top SSL certificate providers of 2020 have more extensive knowledge bases.
The certificates feature standard encryption, browser compatibility, and mobile support. SSL.com leaves out the bells and whistles.
Instead, SSL.com focuses on making certificates accessible and affordable to most website owners with simpler requirements.
The standard SSL costs $49/year, which is affordable in and of itself. You can get it discounted by up to 25% by prepaying for five years, which pegs the price at $36.25/year.
Premium SSL starts at $99.99, and you can get it discounted down to $74.25/year. It’s the most affordable SSL out there if you need to encrypt up to three subdomains.
The prices are low across the board.
While SSL.com’s pricing is fair, even though it requires a five-year commitment for the best deal. It’s one of the best cheap SSL certificate providers for first-time website owners.
SSL.com keeps it short and simple. You get classic features, fast validation, and effective support while maintaining an affordable price. If you’re just starting out on the World Wide Web and don’t have a massive organization, SSL.com is a fantastic choice.
7. Entrust Datacard
Entrust Datacard has been around longer than the internet. It used to be two separate companies, and the merger only made the new entity stronger.
Today, it is one of the most trusted names in data security and one of the best-regarded digital certificate authorities.
Here’s what you can expect from its offer.
Types of SSL
Entrust Datacard targets businesses, so it only offers OV and EV certificates.
The OV certificates are available in single domain, multi-domain, and wildcard SSL variants.
Advantage OV SSL
There’s also an Advantage OV certificate. This lets you secure two domains at once without paying for the more expensive multi-domain certificate.
Entrust offers a multi-domain EV certificate, but no single domain one. This is odd, but the multi-domain certificate starts at two domains and is fairly inexpensive. You can go with it right away if you need the highest level of validation.
OV certificates come with a security bundle that includes reputation monitoring and malware scanning for up to 250 web pages. An EV certificate expands this to 500 pages. Both types are handy for adding a dash of extra security to your website.
All but single domain OV SSLs support RSA and ECC hybrid cryptography. This makes the TLS handshake faster on devices that have little processing power. It essentially makes your website load faster on mobile devices.
Easy Certificate Management
You can also go for an enterprise account. This helps you manage multiple certificates from one place.
Bottom line—Entrust is an SSL service provider with a respectable offer for business.
Entrust assumes most users are from a larger organization. Beyond the standard documentation, you’ll need to provide three contacts in your company.
The authorization contact is someone senior in the organization who can authorize you to buy an SSL certificate. This is the person Entrust will contact whenever it needs information.
The technical contact is whoever manages your server. This person will receive the certificate once it is issued, and they’ll receive notifications about upcoming updates or renewals. If your provider’s support handles the SSL installation and management, provide their contact info.
A billing contact receives, you guessed it, the billing information. This person only handles the financial side of things.
You shouldn’t worry if you run a smaller organization, though. If you have 25 employees or fewer, you can be both the technical and authorization contact for your company.
Apart from the three contacts, Entrust has a similar vetting process to most digital certificate providers.
The support is available through chat, email, and phone. Entrust has phone lines for various countries, so, chances are, you can phone them for free.
Entrust doesn’t mess around with the choice of staff. It has some serious security experts on its team, and it shows—the support is quick and effective.
The support team has Saturdays off, which is sort of weird since it’s available 24h a day otherwise. It’s the only thing marring the quality of Entrust’s support.
Entrust’s knowledge base is extensive, but it only covers a few SSL topics. You can use it to learn the fundamental concepts, but that’s it.
Awesome Company Blog
What saves the day is its blog. It features monthly posts recapping all the latest SSL news.
Few providers offer this kind of value, and it’s an excellent sign the digital certificate provider cares about its customers. Any security-aware user can benefit from visiting it from time to time, even if they’re not Entrust’s customers.
Entrust has an excellent support team, and the blog is an awesome resource.
Entrust’s pricing is about average.
Single domain OV certificates start at $174/year, and the multi-domain one is $278/year, which is about what you’d expect with an OV certificate. The wildcard one is 608/year—also average.
The Advantage certificates provide great value, though, as they let you validate two domains for only $208/year. It’s also an affordable way to get RSA/ECC hybrid encryption.
The multi-domain EV certificates are affordable by default, starting at $373/year and letting you secure two domains. Adding additional domains costs $139/year, which is higher than average. It’s still fair, but you’re not really getting an inexpensive SSL certificate, especially if you want to secure 10+ domains.
Entrust’s features fully justify the price, though.
Entrust puts amazing effort into providing an excellent service. A few things could be improved, but it’s still one of the top providers for business.
GlobalSign is a Belgium-based certificate authority. It is often regarded as one of the top 5 certificate authorities for large enterprises.
Still, its certificates can be appealing to private users as well. Here’s what it offers.
Types of SSL
GlobalSign offers the standard validation levels in wildcard and SAN variants.
SSL for Mailing
Single domain certificates let you encrypt the www, mail, owa, and autodiscover subdomains of your website. This is extremely useful if you use one of these as your mailing subdomain.
You also get unlimited server licenses and unlimited reissues across the board. GlobalSign also throws in an SSL checker, phishing detection, daily malware scanning, and a trust seal.
GlobalSign is a solid SSL certificate provider overall, and it spices up the offer with a couple of handy freebies.
OV certificate buyers go through the standard vetting process. You just need to prove you own the domain name, your business exists, and that your organization is properly registered. The whole process should take about two days.
Getting an EV certificate is straightforward too. You’ll just have to add documents proving you’re authorized to request the EV certificate.
EV vetting should take up to five days, according to GlobalSign. Many user-generated SSL certificate reviews praise GlobalSign for its speed, so you might get your certificate even sooner.
The support is available through phone, email, and fax. There is no live chat feature, which can annoy if you only have a few quick questions.
The support does its job splendidly. The agents can quickly install your certificate, as well as resolve any issues down the road.
The knowledge base is respectable. It explains the key concepts well, although a few companies on this list of certificate authorities have more comprehensive help centers.
GlobalSign is pricey if you just need a single SSL certificate.
To give you an idea, single domain DV certificates start at $249/year, while EV ones are $599/year. Moreover, you only have seven days to request a refund, while most providers offer thirty.
This is because GlobalSign is geared towards larger companies. If you need over five certificates, you can use the SSL Certificate Management service, which gives you various perks.
Wholesale Discounts and More
For one, certificates get issued much faster, and you can get an up to 80% volume discount. This makes GlobalSign an extremely affordable SSL certificate provider for larger organizations.
GlobalSign also offers discount codes if you transfer from another SSL provider or if you upgrade an existing certificate to EV level.
Certificate Management also lets you monitor and manage all certificates, regardless of the issuer.
All in all, GlobalSign offers terrific benefits if you run a large organization that needs an array of certificates. If you need just a single certificate, you can get a better deal from one of the other providers.
GlobalSign is a powerful high-end SSL provider. It’s a great choice if you run a large organization with high demands, although a bit overkill for most private users.
9. Network Solutions
Network Solutions is a huge digital services provider and one of the more popular companies on the recognized root certificate authorities list.
Here’s what you can find in its SSL offer.
Types of SSL
Network Solutions offers OV SSL in single domain and wildcard variants. You can also get single domain DV and EV certificates.
You can get a SAN certificate and secure multiple domains. Network Solutions does not list the SAN certificate price on the website, so you’d have to contact sales and request a quote.
Faster Validation OV
You can also get an “Advanced” OV certificate. These are standard OV certificates with faster validation and a higher warranty. The annual price is $75 higher than that of standard OV, though, which is too much.
The certificates all include a trust seal and a liability warranty between $10,000 and $1,000.000.
Network Solutions is an SSL certificate issuer geared towards private users or small website owners, and its offer reflects that.
Network Solutions’ extended validation requires you to sign a subscriber agreement and produce your company’s registration documents. You’ll also have to agree on a method of communication during the validation process and provide contact info of a company official authorized to request the EV certificate.
Network Solutions provides little information beforehand about the actual documentation it requires for EV.The whole process takes under a week for both EV and OV certificates.
The company makes your OV certificate more expensive if you want it issued in one day.
This is downright ridiculous. Trusted certificate authorities should take their time to be thorough, not to squeeze out a few more bucks.
Support for SSL services is available 24/7 through phone and email. Network Solutions keeps a separate line for each service, so make sure to phone the right one.
The actual support is sort of lackluster.
The phone agents follow a script and often seem more interested in selling you other services than actually helping. You can always submit an email ticket, but you may wait up to 48h for a response. It’s a frustrating experience.
Network Solutions refers you to Web.com’s knowledge base. There, you can find some handy info on installing SSL certificates, but little beyond that.
Lack of live chat, subpar assistance, and a slim knowledge base all amount to an underwhelming service. Network Solutions is far from the best SSL certificate provider in terms of support.
Network Solutions prices its certificates as follows:
- Single domain DV—$59.99/year
- Single domain OV—$124.50/year
- WildCard OV—$579.00/year
- Single domain EV—$399.50/year
This pricing applies if you pay biennially.
You can get cheap SSL security with both domain and organization validation. EV certificates are relatively costly, though.
Network Solutions also offers Advanced OV with faster validation and a higher warranty for $199.50/year. There’s not much to say about this, except that it’s completely overpriced.
Free SSL with Hosting
Certain hosting plans include a free DV SSL certificate. The hosting service is poor, though, and it’s rarely it just to get a couple of freebies.
Private users and small businesses can get affordable certificates from Network Solutions. Advanced OV’s higher price tag is unjustified, though.
Network Solutions’ service leaves a lot to be desired. It is one of the better SSL providers, but it’s far from the best. You can get cheap SSL here, but even the low prices don’t fully justify the mediocre experience.
10. Our Methodology
Picking the right certificate provider is one of the most important things you can do as a website owner. A quality SSL service keeps you in good standing with your visitors, while a poor one does just the opposite.
Here’s how we ensured the providers in our reviews were top-notch.
- Check out the providers’ offer—Not all SSL authorities offer the same service. Some specialize in a certain level of validation, while others add unique certificates and features. The best one depends on what you have on your hands.
- Check out the validation procedure—Let’s face it, getting your domains vetted can be a massive pain. Still, longer validation is your friend, as an extensive procedure helps prevent scamming. We looked for trusted certificate authorities whose validation process was thorough, yet reasonably fast.
- Go through documentation—Public documents like a provider’s CPS can tell you a lot about its offer and what sort of validation it itself went through. It’s also the fastest way to see if a provider raises any red flags.
- Test the support—Technical support is one of the prime reasons for getting a paid certificate over a free one. We queried the support at all times of day to ensure they provided a consistent service.
- Check reputation—Reputation is a massive factor in SSL. Customers are way more likely to trust certificates from a reputable source, especially if there’s a trust seal included. Plus, if a provider is known for shady practices, it could spell trouble down the road.
- Match it all with the price—Even the best SSL certificate service isn’t much good if it’s completely overpriced. We matched the pricing to the overall service to ensure you would get a fair deal.
All that info went into determining who the top providers in the business are. You can check them out just above.
11. Why SSL Matters
SSL has become a big deal over the last few years.
Part of the reason is that buying SSL certificates adds a layer of security. It ensures nobody can spy on data transferred between a server and a visitor’s browser. It essentially protects both the website owner and the visitor from having their data stolen.
Today, not having an SSL certificate carries various drawbacks. For one, you get a penalty in Google rankings if your website isn’t secure. Even worse, a number of web browsers send warnings when visiting sites without SSL, practically driving away your visitors.
Getting SSL is a no-brainer. With the advent of Let’s Encrypt, you can easily install a free SSL certificate—you get a ton of benefits and essentially no drawbacks.
So, what’s the deal with paid certificates? All certificates provide the same level of encryption, so it might seem like there’s no reason to pay for one.
The problem with domain validated certificates like Let’s Encrypt is that they only ensure the data transfer is encrypted. They can’t tell users anything about the website or who owns it.
It’s easy to create a scam website and add an SSL certificate to it. In fact, most phishing websites are domain-validated.
So, even though you might have your website secured with cheap SSL, you’re not necessarily letting visitors know you’re legitimate. This is not much of a problem if you’re running a blog. It will raise a few eyebrows if users need to enter their personal info or credit card number, though.
How Organization and Extended Validation Fix This
Enter OV and EV certificates.
Organization validation and extended validation SSL certificates verify your online business exists in the real world. Potential customers can check the certificate and see your organization is registered, which inspires a lot of confidence.
Plus, most paid certificates come with a secure site seal. Users can inspect these to quickly find out more about your company and how it was validated. This puts them at ease when they need to transfer you money.
EV certificates are the most impactful here. They show visitors an instant visual cue that you run a trusted organization. This is in the form of the famed “green address bar.” In fact, most browsers have a different indicator for EV, but let’s not get into that.
The important part is users won’t have to dig around to find out if you’re legitimate. This automatically means better customer retention and higher profits.
In essence, all companies that issue digital certificates secure communication between your server and your visitors with the same level of encryption. They ensure nobody can spy on you and steal valuable information.
OV and EV certificates are pricier and tougher to obtain than DV ones. However, they not only ensure your website is secure but also prove your brand’s identity online. They are essential in appearing as a trusted business, which translates into better conversion rates.
All things considered, an SSL certificate is a must-have. Finding the best SSL certificate for you, however, depends on your website.
12. How SSL Works
The security aspect of SSL is all about helping a client’s browser establish a secure connection to the server. Here’s how this happens.
The system relies on asymmetric cryptography. It uses a pair of keys to encrypt data.
The keys are two mathematically related numbers. Everything encrypted using the first key can only be decrypted with the second one, and vice versa.
Here’s where stuff gets interesting. One key, called the private key, is only available to the server. Its pair, the public key, is accessible by anyone.
It’s practically impossible to use the public key to find its private counterpart. Even though they are mathematically related, the numbers are huge. Even modern supercomputers would take a few billion years to crack a single private key.
So, anyone can encrypt whatever they want with the public key and send it to the server. Only the server can decrypt and read the data, though. Neat, huh?
Here’s how this works in practice.
Let’s say you want to visit HostingTribunal.com. The website uses a certificate from a digital certificate provider to encrypt data transfers.
Your browser would contact our server and request the public key. Once it has it, you could send us anything, ensuring nobody but us would see it.
However, you can’t really be sure a website is legitimate just because it provides you with a public key. Anyone could impersonate another site and provide you with a public key of their own. So even though the connection is secure, you can’t really know you’re sending your data to HostingTribunal.
This is why certificate authorities exist. If a website runs, let’s say, Sectigo SSL, the browser would reach out to Sectigo and check the public key against its records.
Which is all fine and dandy, but doesn’t solve the problem. If somebody poses as another organization, they could also pose as a trusted certificate authority.
Which is why all relevant CAs’ public keys are hard-coded into web browsers like Google Chrome. This ensures nobody can intercept the communication between you and a certificate authority.
Once the website’s public key is validated, the browser knows it can securely send data.
That’s how browsers securely contact a website’s server using asymmetric encryption.
Another problem here is that asymmetric cryptography is slow and requires a lot of processing power. Which is why browsers only use public key encryption to send a random symmetric key to the target server.
From there, the session is encrypted with that symmetric key. In other words, one key is used for both encryption and decryption. This provides the same level of security as asymmetric cryptography while being much faster.
After the session is over, the symmetric key is discarded.
TL; DR: The browser gets the public key from the server, validates it with the relevant SSL service provider, and uses it to agree on a symmetric key with the server. From there, the browser can quickly and safely exchange data until the session is over.
A lot more goes into SSL, but that’s the gist of it. It’s a practically foolproof way of securely transferring data on the Web.
13. Types of SSL
Many users are surprised to hear cheap SSL certificates provide the same level of security as $2,000 ones.
Indeed, practically every certificate has the same encryption strength. Some providers offer stronger encryption, but a standard 2048-bit private key is essentially impossible to crack, so there’s little reason for this.
This can cause a bit of confusion. Although all certificates do a similar job of protecting data transfers, they do have their differences.
Primarily, SSL certificates differ in the level of validation and in how many domains and subdomains they cover.
Let’s get right to it and see what the options are.
Domain Validated (DV) Certificates
This is the lowest level of validation. The only prerequisite to DV SSL is proving you own the associated domain name. This is usually as simple as receiving an email or uploading a specific file to your website.
The verification process is fully automated. Since computers do everything, this is usually the cheapest SSL certificate. Let’s Encrypt even offers DV SSL for free.
As anyone can get domain validation, though, you’re not really proving your identity. DV certificates are accessible to anyone, even scammers.
Even when you run a legitimate business, a DV certificate will not show the customers any info about it. This type of certificate is intended for websites at low risk of fraud like blogs.
Organization Validated (OV) Certificates
OV was the original SSL validation level. Its purpose is to provide validation that an organization or a business is legitimate.
Someone will manually verify the existence of your business and phone you to confirm the issuing of the certificate. The work that goes into it makes OV pricier than DV certificates.
The certificate authorities here look to prove your organization really exists. They’ll check if it is registered with the proper regulatory bodies and whether it really owns the domain name in question.
This type of validation inspires a lot more trust than DV. After all, customers can see there’s a real company behind the website.
These certificates usually come with a dynamic seal that lets users quickly check who you are and how your organization was validated. You can place this in key places, like the checkout page, to reassure users their private data is in safe hands.
Extended Validation (EV) Certificates
EV certificates are for those who want to go the extra mile in reassuring their customers. This is the highest level of validation.
The validation process requires an expert to go through a lot of legal documentation. This can take a week or more and pegs the price much higher than that of other certificates.
The whole process is much more extensive. The requirements differ from provider to provider, but they’ll typically need some of your legal documents. They also may check if your company is associated with some shady online activity or ask for a professional’s opinion about your business.
This type of certificate is meant to provide reasonable assurance that you are transparent online.
Web browsers usually signify EV websites with some visual cue, like a green address bar or company name next to the URL. This is the best SSL certificate for reassuring users with little knowledge of online security that the website is for real.
While more expensive, this validation level can bring a massive user retention boost. Larger businesses can greatly profit from the validation procedure.
Unless specified otherwise, a standard SSL certificate applies to one domain only. This usually means it can encrypt the www and non-www variation of your domain name, but that’s it.
A single domain certificate doesn’t extend to all subdomains. If you want to cover all subdomains, you need a wildcard certificate.Still, the benefits of wildcard over single domain certificates could be debated.
Single domain is the most affordable SSL type, but it only works on one level and don’t secure all underlying subdomains.
As opposed to single domain certificates, wildcard certificates secure a domain and all its subdomains.
The benefit is obvious—you can easily secure an entire website even though it has multiple subdomains. If you add more subdomains after the fact, the certificate can quickly be reissued to cover them too.
Wildcards do tend to be a lot pricier than single-domain certificates.
One thing to note is that there are no EV wildcard certificates. The whole point of extended validation is to confirm the existence of a company as well as its transparency. Digital certificate providers need to audit each subdomain you put under an EV certificate, or it would compromise the credibility of validation.
If you want an EV SSL for multiple subdomains, you’ll need to get a multi-domain certificate. Then you can apply it to several subdomains as if they were separate domains.
Subject Alternative Name (SAN)/Multi-domain Certificates
As the name suggests, you can use these on multiple domains. You can also apply them to several subdomains if needed.
Unlike wildcards, these certificates are limited. The cap can be anywhere from two domains to a few hundred.
The domain names don’t have to be related to the same website. You can use SAN to secure several domains without having to buy an SSL certificate for each one.
These certificates are obviously pretty useful and a real money-saver if you have multiple domain names. They are also the only way to secure multiple subdomains with an EV certificate.
They can be very pricey if have many domains on your hands, though.
WildCard Multi-domain Certificates
If you know what wildcard and SAN certificates are, this one is self-explanatory.
It’s a wildcard SSL certificate that can work across multiple domains. It’s fairly cost-effective if you have a bunch of complex sites.
One thing to note about both SAN and wildcard certificates is that the same key pair is used to secure all your domains and subdomains. So, if somebody gets to the private key of one subdomain, your whole operation can be compromised.
These things happen extremely rarely. Still, it’s something to be aware of.
That covers the common SSL certificate types. Choosing the right one for you is pretty easy once you know what’s out there.
If you’re still unsure what you need, don’t worry. Coming up next, I’ll also cover what to watch out for when looking for the best SSL certificates.
14. What SSL Do I Need?
If this were written a few years ago, this section would probably be dramatically different. I might’ve told you that sure, you can get SSL, but it’s only necessary if you’re receiving money online.
Well, things have changed.
Lacking SSL now harms SEO, and the leading browsers outright spook visitors away from your site. Plus, unencrypted data transfers are a glaring security gap.
Since Let’s Encrypt makes SSL freely available, there’s no excuse for skipping it when setting up a website. And if you want a paid certificate, most authorities have a cheap SSL certificate option for private users. SSL will get you a ton of benefits, and practically no drawbacks.
Now that’s out of the way, here’s how to pick the right certificate for your website.
Choosing between a single domain SSL or a multi-use certificate is easy.
Get a single domain SSL if you run just one domain with no subdomains. Go for a wildcard certificate if you run multiple subdomains.
If you run multiple second-level domains, go for a multi-domain certificate. If you have multiple domains, each with subdomains of its own, a wildcard SAN is probably the best SSL certificate for you.
Now, let’s get into validation levels.
Which Level of Validation do I need?
If you don’t collect credit card info or don’t use your website for business, a domain validated certificate is enough. It can fix all the issues with not having a certificate.
Users don’t really have a reason to check your validation level if they’re not doing business with you. A higher level of validation is a waste of money if you just want to set up a blog or a personal website.
Let’s Encrypt vs. Paid DV Certificates
If you want to compare SSL certificates by price, it doesn’t get much better than Let’s Encrypt’s free DV SSL. The organization is probably one of the fastest-growing certificate providers, and for good reason. The certificates are completely free, easy to install, and are democratizing SSL security.
It is a perfectly valid choice if you’re on a tight budget and just don’t want to overcommit.
One thing few hosting experts tell you about free SSL is that… well, stuff can break.
In such cases, Let’s Encrypt offers absolutely no customer support. You’re essentially betting nothing will go wrong, or that your hosting provider will fix any potential problems.
Now, you don’t have to pay for a certificate if you’re just starting out. That said, it would be wise to get at least cheap SSL when you can, just for the support value. There are other benefits like a warranty, but getting assistance when you need it is key.
Higher Validation Levels
An OV certificate is essential if you’re in any way receiving money through your website. This applies to ecommerce websites and cryptocurrency exchanges, for example.
This validation connects your website to your real-life, registered business. Users can look it up, and your brand becomes real (and trustworthy) to them. This gives customers peace of mind when they’re about to hand over their credit card details.
All business owners should definitely look into SSL certificate vendors that offer organizational validation.
Now, the right time to go for extended validation is a controversial topic.
The main benefit of EV is the browser shows your website as safe. The whole address bar may turn green, or display your company name next to the URL. This alone has proven to increase conversions by as much as 13%.
Going for EV is not urgent if you’re just starting out. It’s best to see how your business develops and get EV once you deem it profitable.
Which SSL Provider to Pick
Once you know what you want out of a certificate, you can pick a suitable provider. Here are a few things to look out for.
Does it have the certificate you need?—This one’s a no-brainer. There are different types of certificate authorities, and you have to find the one that has what you’re looking for.
Does it meet the industry standards?—It’s unforgivable if a security company runs outdated technology. The most important feature is a 2048-bit public key with 256-bit two-way encryption. Never go with an SSL authority that offers less.
Is the SSL provider trusted by browsers?—Major browsers like Firefox and Chrome publish lists of trusted authorities and sellers online. If you can’t find a company on the trusted SSL certificate providers list, hold off on buying its certificates.
Is the provider reputable?—It’s usually a good idea to check what other users say about a digital service. If a provider does sloppy work, somebody will point it out.
What’s in its certificate practice statement? (CPS)—The CPS is a document outlining all of a provider’s security policies. This can tell you a lot about a provider’s validation procedure, security measures, and third-party audits. In other words, it tells you most of what you need to know. CPSs are legal documents, but even laypeople can use them to discover useful info.
What’s the price?—Some providers set low default prices to cater to private users, while others attract corporations with great bulk discounts. You should consider which provider offers the best deals for you.
Bonus tip—Never trust an SSL provider with an unsecure website. There’s no reason why a CA wouldn’t encrypt its own site. A lack of a recognized certificate can point to numerous problems, so these are best avoided.
15. Wrap Up
That concludes the reviews of the best SSL certificate providers. If you’ve come this far, you understand the SSL basics, know who the top names are, and what to look in a CA. Enjoy the extra SSL security!
Q: How much does an SSL certificate cost?
A: That’s a broad question. The price can range anywhere from absolutely nothing to several thousand dollars a year. It all depends on the certificate you need.
Well-known authorities usually charge somewhere between 40 and 80 bucks per year for DV certificates. OV is more expensive—generally in the $100-$200 range for a single domain. DV can cost upwards of $200/year.
There are also resellers to consider. They bulk purchase SSL from root certificate authorities, so they get massive discounts. They can then resell you a trusted certificate at a much lower price.
One thing to note about resellers is you might not get the same support quality as if you were getting a certificate directly. Do a thorough background check before buying a certificate.
Q: Is a free SSL certificate safe?
A: As long as you can find a provider on the list of certificate authorities trusted by major browsers, you should be safe.
Let’s Encrypt is currently the only CA with truly free certificates. You can get a free certificate from some hosting providers, but this is always a part of a larger promotion.
To answer your question—yes, free Let’s Encrypt certificates are completely safe. Since pretty much all certificates offer the same encryption strength, regardless of price, your website won’t be any more vulnerable if you go with a free certificate.
Q: What is the difference between free SSL and paid SSL?
A: Most certificates provide standard 2048-bit private key encryption and 256-bit symmetric encryption. That means your data transfer is safe, even if you go with a free or cheap SSL certificate provider.
However, free certificates lack a few things, and the big one is customer support. If something goes wrong with a free certificate, you’re on your own.
Plus, Let’s Encrypt is only available as DV certificate. If you need OV or EV, you need a paid provider. If you’re unsure, you can check out the explanation of different validation levels above.
Getting a free certificate is fine if you’re starting a simple website and don’t want to invest loads of money right away. Once you can afford it, though, a paid certificate can be a great benefit.
Q: How do I get SSL for my website?
A: One way is to go for a hosting provider that offers SSL with their plans. The only other way to get valid SSL is from a trusted provider.
If you’re not sure which one to pick, you can check out the top SSL certificate providers comparison just above. You can also learn how to pick the right provider and certificate for you.
Q: Who is the best SSL certificate provider?
A: This mostly depends on your specific needs.
Sectigo (previously called Comodo CA) is the most widely used provider. It offers an excellent and reliable service at a fair price.
DigiCert and GeoTrust both have fantastic offers for larger organizations, as well as some of the most recognizable trust seals.
RapidSSL is their subsidiary that offers affordable domain validation for users who need little in terms of support. It is ideal for blogs and other simpler websites.
Entrust Datacard has insanely low prices if you need to secure multiple domains at once. It offers the best deals you can get without buying certificates wholesale.
The best SSL certificate authority depends on what your needs are. You can check out the best of the best just above. All providers offer a trial period, so don’t be afraid to try one or two on for size.