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Getting SSL Certificates for Free with Lets Encrypt

SSL certificates are a must for any website that wants to be seen as authoritative and trustworthy. Even Google prioritizes websites with SSL certificates over others. With such certificates, you can easily encrypt your website for good. The good news is these days you don’t have to pay for SSL certificates. Most hosting plans, whether it be shared or reseller, offer SSL certificates free of cost. You get these certificates via Let’s Encrypt, a non-profit security certificate provider. These certificates are recognized by most browsers.

How does getting SSL certificates from Let’s Encrypt work?

To understand how SSL are issued, you must learn the parties that are involved in the process. First party is a Certificate Authority (CA). Let’s Encrypt is one of the Certificate Authorities. Others are Comodo SSL, DigiCert SSL, RapidSSL among others. Second is the agent or the domain name registrar/hosting provider.

The agent has to prove to the CA that their web server is hosting the domain and has control over it. Once verified, the CA then issues a certificate for that particular domain.

Website admins would have to configure the certificate within cPanel. When configured properly, Let’s Encrypt will issue a quarterly certificate for that particular domain. This certificate will renew every three months. If you no longer need it, you can remove manually.

Let’s Encrypt vs other SSL Certificate Providers

From a technical standpoint, there’s little to no difference between the SSL certificate issued by Let’s Encrypt or other CA. But there are a few differences you should be aware of. First, Let’s Encrypt only issues Domain Validated certificates. For these type of certificate, all you need to do is prove that you’re the owner of the domain. On the downside, these certificates don’t offer warranty over misuse of certificates. Concurrently, they won’t be issuing wildcard certificates. The maximum validity of these certificates is often 90 days.

Commercial Certificate Authority, on the other hand, provide certificates that come with a warranty. Approvals are done using email or file and the validity of the certificates can be as much as 39 months.

To help you decide, you should get Let’s Encrypt SSL certificates if you need a quick and free security solution for your website. For long term purposes, you can choose certificates issued by commercial CA.

Another thing to note is that Let’s Encrypt only issues one certificate per domain. There are no limit to how many domains you can request a certificate for. Once issued, you can use it for the subdomain.

With that said, you should get a security certificate from Let’s Encrypt. Your hosting provider may already have one assigned for your domain. Configure it and start using for a safer website experience.
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