If you’re just getting to grips with building your own website, then you’re probably looking for a good SSL certificate. After all, you want to ensure that your visitors feel secure when they’re visiting your website.
Plus, if you don’t have a good SSL certificate installed then your website won’t even show up properly in some browsers. This includes Google Chrome, which actually shows a “Not Secure” message within the URL of the address bar.
One of the most used SSL certificates is undoubtedly Let’s Encrypt. This is no surprise, and it seems to get the job done and they even have a completely free SSL certificate that you can use.
But is this a viable option for those who are building a serious website? Well, let’s find out.
Is Let’s Encrypt free and secure?
The answer is that yes, Let’s Encrypt is a free and secure option if you need an SSL certificate for your website. In fact, the whole point of Let’s Encrypt is giving the public free access to more security for their websites without making money from them.
They’re probably the most well known name when it comes to SSL certificates. Other ones that you may want to check out are Komodo and Digicert, who specialise in more expensive and comprehensive security certificates.
As a free open source certificate authority, it’s very important that they’re secure. There are some advantages of using Let’s Encrypt over using another different SSL certificate.
Advantages of Let’s Encrypt
Let’s Encrypt generally focuses on offering the following with their SSL certificates;
- Free – Of course, the main point of Let’s Encrypt is to give us free SSL certificates! It’s actually a service provided by the San Franciscan Internet Security Research Group, who are trying to make our internet safer.
- Simple Setup – Let’s Encrypt SSLs are relatively easy to set up on your websites, and some hosts will even do all of this for you. So, it won’t take up much of your time to get your site up using Let’s Encrypt.
- Support – If you check out the supporters page on Let’s Encrypt, you can see that two of the biggest browsers, Chrome and Firefox, both sponsor the company. This means that they’re unlikely to have any issues with these certificates any time in the near future.
The fact of the matter is that hundreds of millions of websites on the internet use Let’s Encrypt as their choice for SSL certificate. So, if you’re just setting up your first website or blog, then there’s no issue with you using a free SSL from these guys.
Are there instances when you’d be better off opting for a different SSL certificate? Yes, there are. Here are a few of the reasons you might not want to use a Let’s Encrypt SSL.
Why you might not want to use Let’s Encrypt
- Ecommerce & Larger Sites – Whilst you can still use a Let’s Encrypt SSL for an e-commerce site, it generally isn’t recommended. There are different types of SSL certificate out there; Let’s Encrypt only offer DV, or Domain Validated, certificates. However, a BV (Business Validation) or EV (Extended Validation) are generally better for e-com sites. These certificates are better for building trust with your customers. Though they aren’t a necessity, as Shopify do use Let’s Encrypt on their online stores.
- Support – One of the big cons about using a Let’s Encrypt certificate is that you don’t get any real sort of support from them aside from the community they have. Of course, many people won’t need this. But if you have a big website with a lot of a traffic, and something goes wrong with your SSL, you want to be able to fix.
- 90 Day Validity – For most people this won’t be a problem, but Let’s Encrypt certificates are only valid for 90 days. Many platforms offer the ability to update them automatically via the ACME system, but some may not. If yours doesn’t, then it can be a hassle to renew them.
- Single Domains only – Another downside of using a Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate is that they only offer single site domains. This won’t be enough if you need multicard or wildcard SSL certificate.
All in all, these are just some of the most important pros and cons of using a Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate. If you need something better, then check out my list of the best SSL certificates. Let’s recap and answer any other queries you might have.
Common Questions about Let’s Encrypt
There are some questions that often pop up about Let’s Encrypt. So, I’m going to run through them all to give you a little more information about them.
In conclusion, a Let’s Encrypt certificate is perfect safe and secure for you to use on your website. However, for those who have a larger client site or an e-commerce store, you would probably be better off with purchasing a different type of SSL, which Let’s Encrypt do not offer.
It’s the ideal choice if you own a small blog or website that you’re building for yourself. You should be able to set it up fairly easily, or in many cases, your hosting provide can actually do all of this for you.