CHEATSHEET FOR LAZY PEOPLE
- Use cloudflare.com if you are using shared hosting or don’t want to get inside your server configuration.
- Use letsencrypt.com if you are are using VPS, dedicated server or hosting that supports this.
Having a Free SSL Certificate on your website (that gives you the little green icon of security) in today’s day and age is more common then ever. Especially after the introduction to GDPR in Europe.
Basically, what this certificate does is it encrypts the connection between the visitor and the server by high grade encryption ensuring that if someone is sniffing out you connection or data is being leaked in any other way, your login or any other information you’ve shared with the website is encrypted and safe.
The most important thing to note about SSL besides that you can buy it from any domain registrar are that the prices vary from free to 300$ per year.
Free SSL Certificate, is it worth it?
You might wonder, whats the difference? Why is it so costly and should I consider buying one if I can get one for free?
The answer is simple, each certificate has its own perks and bonuses that include: a longer warranty time (yes, if you buy a certificate and it doesn’t protect data as it should, you are covered with a warranty of up to 2 million dollars), you can also certify your business and not only show that the connection to the website is safe, but that your legal business is verified and legit.
On the other hand, if you choose Free SSL Certificate, you will only encrypt the connection, there is no warranty and no business verification options. If you’re a small business or at an early stage in your project, Free SSL Certificate is usually more then enough!
In fact, Free SSL Certificate is better then nothing so you should get it either way if you have no SSL, you can always buy an SSL later on.
Without further ado, here are our tested picks as of today for Free SSL Certificates
One of the fastest and easiest way to get Free SSL Certificate. Cloudflare is a CDN that offers DNS management, caching and security options and many other improvements for free. This includes a free SSL option.
Keep in mind that all your website traffic will go through their CDN servers in order for their SSL (or other features) to work. This could result in tiny decreases in loading time, depending on where is your actual server physical location but in most cases, their great cache makes up for that.
You can find all info and videos on how to get started with Cloudflare on their website, but just in case, here is a quick way to set up Free SSL Certificate with Cloudflare:
- Sign up on Cloudflare
- Add your domain ( you will have to change the nameservers to cloudflare nameservers)
- After you confirm your domain, go to “Crypto” settings in your Cloudflare Dashboard and enable SSL.
If you want to know more about the differences between Flexible, Full and Full (strict) options, read about it here.
This is more advanced method but in some cases is even easier to set up then using Cloudflare. The mane difference here is that you don’t use any CDN or any middle man for your traffic, you just set up Free SSL Certificate on your server and it works like a charm even with wildcards (means that SSL Certificate will work on all of your sub-domains as well) and it will automatically renew without you needing to worry about it.
To use this method, you have 2 options:
- Check if your hosting / server provider supports Let’s Encrypt. If so, you just need to find this option somewhere in your control panel and enable it. For your convenience, here are the hosting / server providers that support this feature.
- If your provider doesn’t support this feature and you have a VPS or a dedicated server, you can install Let’s Encrypt on your own server. Instructions on how to do that.
Note: If you don’t have much experience with server management, we highly recommend that you either higher a professional (feel free to contact us for help!) or use a more safer option as this could break your server if something goes wrong!
If Cloudflare is not a good fit for you and Let’s Encrypt is unavailable, there is still hope for you!
ZeroSSL offers free SSL certificate based on domain verification. This means you will need to add some extra options to your domain DNS to verify your domain and have your Free SSL Certificate generated without a hassle.
The downside of this method is that you will have to manually regenerate and update your certificate every 3 months, if you fail to do that, your website will become insecure, so keep this in mind!
The upside – you can easily use this method with GoDaddy or similar providers that doesn’t support using Free SSL Certificate as this only requires you to have access to your domain DNS settings.
Similarly like ZeroSSL it is based on Let’s Encrypt and will let you generate Free SSL Certificates by only verifying your domain.
It does support wildcards, so this could be another great option but again, the downside is that you will have to regenerate and renew your certificate after 3 months.
If you are interested in having a high-end SSL certificate for 90 days – Comodo is what you’re looking for. They are offering the same high quality paid certificates for free but for only 90 days. It is not the most convenient way to get your Free SSL Certificate but it is an option not to be missed.
Either you are buying your SSL certificate or using a free one, it has become the required feature in every website today especially after GDPR is in place in Europe. Even if you’re not in Europe, you need to comply for all the visitors that come from Europe.
If you know any other methods, have questions or would like to share your story, please do that in the comments section below!
If you’re looking for a good way to get a best deals on a new domain, check this other post where I talk about hidden promo pages where you can get a free or great price domains on most popular domain registrars: https://devrunners.com/how-to-get-a-website-domain-best-price-possible/
May the crypto force be with you!