What’s the Difference Between Let’s Encrypt and Purchased SSL?


By: Drew Germyn

Categories: Guides

Your website is the heart of your business. Modern consumers turn to the web first when they’re in the market for a product or service. That’s why you invest in great web design and first class hosting on a superior network.

As of August 2018, Google Chrome has begun flagging sites that don’t use HTTPS protocol as “Not Secure.” You can’t afford for that to happen even if your website isn’t transactional. Your site’s visitors need to know that any information they share with you is secure or they’ll go in search of your competitors.

At Localnode, our first class hosting clients get a free Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate. One of the most common questions we hear has to do with the difference between Let’s Encrypt and Purchased SSL certificates.

First-Class Hosting with Let’s Encrypt

We are dedicated to providing our clients with the best service available. That means that in addition to first class hosting, they get access to our superior hardware, software, and network. Clients can install a free Let’s Encrypt certificate using cPanel if they choose, but by default, they would have a cPanel-issued Comodo-cross-signed SSL.

The primary goal of Let’s Encrypt is to give website owners a simple, free way to get a basic SSL certificate. The only certificates issued by Let’s Encrypt is Domain Validation certificates. A Domain Validation certificate, or DV for short, will suffice if you have a basic website with no online store or payment system.

One of the things we tell our first class hosting clients about Let’s Encrypt is that they can easily automate the certificate renewal process. Let’s Encrypt requires a renewal every 90 days. That might seem cumbersome – and it is a more frequent renewal than is required with a paid SSL.

However, since the Let’s Encrypt DV is free, you can simply sign up to automate the process. You won’t need a credit card, and your certificate will automatically update every 90 days as needed.

As noted above, one of the key differences between Let’s Encrypt and a paid SSL is that Let’s Encrypt is free. That’s why we teamed up with Let’s Encrypt – so our first-class hosting clients could augment our superior software with an easy-to-install, free DV certificate.

First-Class Hosting with a Purchased SSL

While Let’s Encrypt’s DVs are convenient and free, they are not suitable or sufficient for every site. If you have a simple site with information about your company, a contact page, and a blog, then a DV may be all you need. However, if your site is more complex, you’ll need to purchase an SSL to keep your site safe.

In addition to the DV, there are three other kinds of SSL certificates. They include:

  • Organization Validation – this certificate is recommended for commerce portals, requires verification of domain ownership
  • Extended Validation – requires a strict authentication process that takes 7-10 days and ensures your site will display the green Secure notification in Chrome
  • Wildcard Validation – secures unlimited subdomains for a single domain

If your site has a customer portal for processing payments or you have an eCommerce store, then you should probably opt for the Extended Validation – or EV. It provides the highest level of security for transactional websites. Localnode uses an EV for our website to provide security to our first class hosting clients.

Most purchased SSLs have a longer renewal period than Let’s Encrypt. You may only be required to renew your SSL once a year.

What Let’s Encrypt and Purchased SSLs Have in Common

The most important thing to know about Let’s Encrypt and Purchased SSLs is that they are both good options depending on the kind of site you have. Either one will ensure that your site doesn’t have the dreaded “Not Secure” label on it.

They also both provide HTTPS protocol, which both encrypts your site and provides you with some valuable SEO advantages. What that means is that if your site has the same basic specifications as another site that doesn’t use HTTPS, your site will appear higher in Google’s rankings because you are using HTTPS.

Sometimes, clients ask us if using HTTPS will slow their sites down. The short answer is no. Any effect on the usability and speed of your site should be negligible – and it’s very important to let your site visitors know that you are serious about protecting their data.

How to Install Let’s Encrypt Using cPanel

Let’s quickly walk through the process of installing your Let’s Encrypt DV through cPanel. There are four simple steps.

  1. Open cPanel and log in
  2. Find the security option on the menu
  3. Click on Let’s Encrypt on the menu:
  4. Issue a certificate for the domain you want:

  5. Success!

It’s as simple as that. In just a few minutes, you can issue your Let’s Encrypt certificate and install it on your site.

In short, Let’s Encrypt and purchased SSLs both have a purpose…

Let’s Encrypt provides a free, convenient, and easy-to automate DV that’s perfect for simple websites with no transactions or passwords. A purchased SSL will provide you and your customers with additional protection if you collect personal data or payments.

To learn more about Localnode’s first class hosting, superior hardware, superior network, and superior software, please click here now.