We all love people who hand you gifts, bonuses, and freebies. And why wouldn’t anyone really? Why would you turn down goods that someone else has decided to so generously provide to you free of charge? In any case, if you do not like them, you have nothing to lose. It seems like a win-win to me. As a tech expert, I have been picking freebies over time and free SSL providers are among my favorite hosts.
While free things are so tempting and obviously budget-friendly, even the best free hosting providers cannot match their paid counterparts in terms of performance, security, and features. Let’s start with the basics before reviewing and comparing the best free SSL providers in our 2020 list.
What is SSL Certificate?
SSL is an abbreviation of the Secure Sockets Layer and is very critical for every website. When there is a visitor on your site, a secure link is automatically created between the web server and the website visitor. With SSL certificates, any data that is transmitted between the two is encrypted, secured, and protected.
The SSL feature is particularly essential for online stores and digital wallets, which need to secure transactions or any data that, could be vulnerable to hackers. Not only does an SSL certificate help to secure your visitors, but also helps your website rank higher on Google and other search engine results.
How to Get the Best SSL Hosting
If you intend to start any kind of e-commerce online store, website security should be among your top priorities on your to-do list. The website you are looking to secure will most likely a certificate request procedure that must be followed to the latter. It pays to carefully read through your SSL certificate vendor’s guidelines, especially if you are applying for an EV (Extended Valuation) certificate (discussed below).
After generating your SSL request, you will then submit it for processing to the SSL certificate authority. Processing could take anywhere from a few minutes to a few weeks. If all the verification requests are passed, you will receive a complete SSL certificate ready to be loaded directly into your website’s server.
If you have accessed the internet in the recent past, you have certainly noticed the reassuring green padlock that appears in your browser’s URL bar as you access a website. The padlock used to appear only in online e-commerce stores.
Their increase in use across nearly all websites on the internet is due to the deployment of HTTPS in the place of the old HTTP. SSL certificates make it possible to deploy HTTPS all over the internet. The padlocks you see in your URL bar indicate that the connection is secure. Anyone who tries to intercept the connection will only see a bunch of gibberish at best.
What Levels of SSL Certificates Are Available?
Beyond adding an additional layer of encryption and security, SSL certificates are also used to verify the identity of a site owner, or company behind the site.
There are three different identification certificates:
1. Domain Validation Certificates
With a Domain Validation Certificate, you’re proving ownership over the domain name. At this level, the identity of the organization won’t be checked, just that the person who has the SSL certificate also owns the domain name tied to the website.
This is the most basic level of SSL certificate and is usually the level of certificate that comes free with most hosting plans.
It’s well suited for simple websites, but eCommerce sites and other websites that are dealing with sensitive personal information will want to obtain a higher-level certificate.
2. Organization Validation Certificates
With Organization Validation Certificates you’ll have to prove that you own the domain name, along with proving that your company is accountable and registered as a business. Usually, this means you’ll need to have proof of a registered company name and proof of domain ownership.
This level of the certificate can only be issued to businesses and organizations. Individuals running a website won’t be issued this level of certification.
3. Extended Validation Certificates
Extended Validation SSL Certificates are the highest level of SSL certificate available. To obtain this level of certificate you’ll need to validate your business, as well as your domain name. Plus, there are additional verification steps that you’ll also have to complete.
Obtaining this level of SSL certificate will take longer, but for some website’s it’ll be worth it. It goes a long way towards showing your visitors that you value their privacy and protection.
When visiting a site with this level of SSL certificate you’ll often see the URL bar is entirely green. This is a highly visual form of trust that you’ll exhibit to your customers.
Note that this level of certificate is also only available to businesses and organizations. It is not available to individuals.
SSL or TLS?
If your SSL certificate was installed recently, you have likely seen its supplanted TLS (Transport Layer Security) version which is significantly more secure than its predecessor. The two had evolved in parallel for a while before SSL was ultimately retired in 2015.
TLS has been the preferred over SSL since then with most browsers failing to show the green padlock on their URL bars if SSL 2.0 or 3.0 protocols are in use. While TLS is the preferred option, you can rest assured that your SSL certificate will work just as promised as long as you purchased it from a trusted authority.,
Types of SSL Certificates
Let’s take a look at some of the types of SSL certificates available for your website.
While we have been referring to a single SSL certificate in this article, there are actually three standard certificates required:
The root certificate: The root certificate is kept by the CA.
The server certificate: As the name suggests, the server certificate is the one that is installed via your web server.
The intermediate certificate: This certificate is used to tie the two above together. It serves as the link between the root certificate and the server certificate.
Proxy certificates are among the less commonly used on the web. However, they are commonly used on a proxy server. Proxy servers are often used in a firm to filter incoming and outgoing internet traffic.
A proxy server might also be used by individuals who want to mask the source of their web traffic. This is mostly done to access resources that might be blocked in the country’s internet.
As its name suggests, a shared certificate is shared among a few individuals. With regards to web hosting, it might be a group of customers on a physical server or across the entire hosting provider, at least those that do not have their own individual certificates.
Shared certificates are most common on shared hosting plans. Just like shared hosting platforms, shared certificates are best suited for those that are just starting out on the web or are running their websites as just a hobby. If you are running a smaller website without plans to actually sell anything on the website, you would most probably be satisfied with a shared certificate.
Free SSL certificates
While in the recent past it was next to impossible to get an SSL certificate for free, it is becoming more of a reality with each passing day.
There are basically two types of free SSL certificates: Free SSL certificates from your hosting provider or free certificates from Let’s Encrypt. A free SSL certificate from your hosting provider will most likely be a shared certificate or one dedicated to your website is you are in a dedicated hosting plan.
It has become quite common for hosting providers to offer free SSL certificates as part of their hosting plans. Moreover, a lot of providers are participating in the Let’s Encrypt project and since it costs them almost nothing, it would only make sense for them to give them away to their customers for free.
When selecting an SSL host, it is best to acquire a dedicated IP address with your plan. Dedicated IP addresses offer a stronger overall hosting with more secure servers. We reviewed all the hosting plans being offered by over 100 hosting providers and have selected ten of those that provide the best SSL certificate options.
Best Hosting with Free SSL Certificates
BlueHost (Best overall hosting provider)
Easily among the best web hosting services for free SSL certificates, Bluehost is one of the most lucrative options for small business hosting, providing free SSL certificates with every hosting plan in the firm. Rated number one hosting provider for WordPress services, BlueHost’s plans start from a mere $2.95 per month. Subsequently, their services take high honors on our web hosting for free SSL services review.
Bluehost has its headquarters in Utah and is owned and managed by web giant Endurance International Group (EIG). Bluehost offers basic shared hosting to its clients at $2.95 per month on their three-year contract. They also have plans with a WordPress pre-installation starting at $20 per month, although this is only an introductory rate. Bluehost boasts more than 2 million websites worldwide, offering a 30-day money-back guarantee. Bluehost mostly stands out for its performance, uptime, and excellent customer support.
A subscription with Bluehost gets you a free SSL certificate with Let’s Encrypt. You also do not need to fret if you have no web development skills since Bluehost will automatically install Let’s Encrypt SSL certificates as soon as you sign up. Small and medium enterprises are advised begin at basic shared hosting, which, as in most other hosting providers, comes with a free SSL certificate and is a notch faster on Bluehost. For the price, Bluehost’s subscribers get automatic WordPress installation together with other popular apps via a mojo marketplace-powered system.
In addition, Bluehost also features a region-based control panel, which allows users to tweak matters manually. To top it all off, Bluehost also provides their customers with a Weebly-based web builder on their platform. The fundamental browser-based platform enables the webmaster to create websites with up to six pages. However, there are no extras such as site templates included in BlueHost’s plans.
Nonetheless, there is a ton of functionality in its hosting plans still in the pipeline, and this is far better than nothing. Bluehost also boasts excellent customer service and super-fast response to client queries. This is particularly essential for new webmasters to learn the ropes while still growing their business’s online presence. Bluehost has the best mix of user-friendly features coupled with exceptional tweaking potential and great power for more advanced users.
Bluehost is popular for its large catalog of hosting solutions for their subscribers. These include:
Domain names: While it is not the cheapest domain name registrar, Bluehost offers direct domain names registration to its large base of customers. Domain name registration starts at $17.99 per year.
Shared hosting: Unless you are working on a really large website project, shared hosting is the first option you ought to ponder. While it is the cheaper option, it is also the noisier one. At Bluehost, shared hosting goes for prices ranging from $8.99 to $25 per month.
WordPress hosting: Bluehost features a hosting service that is optimized for WordPress sites. The hosting service comes with several perks, peak among them being a staging area. Bluehost’s WordPress hosting is a bit pricey, starting at $29.99 per month.
VPS: Virtual Private Servers allow you to share a server, but unlike in shared hosting, there is a virtual wall between your website and others on the same server. At Bluehost, VPS hosting plans are priced between $29.99 and $59.99 per month.
All the above hosting plans come with a free SSL certificate
HostGator (Best for uptime)
Preferred for their impressive uptime, HostGator is among the best hosting providers for free SSL certificates around the globe. Its unmetered bandwidth enables its subscribers to operate their online enterprises for quite a while before requiring any updates. They also offer free migration, which makes migrating and set up straightforward since you will not need to get your hands dirty.
Being one of the first and biggest web hosting providers in the industry, HostGator has consistently made improvements to its uptime, posting average uptime of 99.98% in the past 2 years. In their basic shared hosting plan, Hostgator offers unlimited storage and bandwidth, free domain, and a free SSL certificate among a horde of other basic features. HostGator is also popular for their great 24/7 customer service offered via live chat and phone.
The only disappointing feature with HostGator is the fact that their average page loading times let them down. With speeds averaging at 1191ms, most of the additional services, such as security and automated backups are tucked onto their hosting plans as additional charges.
HostGator provides three tiers in their shared hosting plan for their subscribers to choose from:
Hatchling Plan: Priced at $2.75 per month, the Hatchling plan features one domain name, a free SSL certificate, unlimited storage, and unlimited subdomains.
Baby Plan: Priced at $3.95 per month, the Baby Plan on HostGator features unlimited storage and bandwidth, a free SSL certificate, and unlimited domain names.
Business Plan: Starting at $5.95 per month, the Business plan on HostGator features unlimited storage and bandwidth, one free dedicated IP, a free SSL certificate, a toll-free number, and unlimited domain names.
HostGator offers SSL certificates for free on all its hosting plans. Therefore, whichever hosting option you choose, you will still benefit from SSL protection. The SSL certificate is programmed to automatically renew, so your website should never be left unguarded.
Whether you choose to subscribe to the lowest-priced shared hosting plan or the most expensive dedicated hosting plan, you will still get an equal level of SSL security incorporated in your plan. That makes sure all HostGator clients have unlimited protection for their domains and subdomains, and they are supported by all main browsers.
If you are looking to explore extra features or supplementary security, HostGator does offer you the option to purchase an advanced SSL certificate. You have the option to upgrade to any of the following:
- Positive SSL for $19.99 per year
- Multi-Domain SSL for $79.99 per year
- Extended Validation (EV) SSL for $269.99 per year
While these SSL certificates offer more advanced features, such as the TrustLogo Site Seal and the green address bar, most sites will do just fine with the free SSL certificate.
InMotion (Best for shared and VPS hosting)
Before choosing the ideal SSL hosting provider for your website, you should know that shared servers and VPS hosting are the most affordable options, especially for inexperienced webmasters. Additionally, InMotion does include free SSL certificates in nearly all their hosting plans.
While they are among the most common features across all hosting providers, InMotion provides far better stability and security in their shared and VPS hosting plans. It is, therefore, easily the most ideal option for professionally run business sites.
What really puts the icing on the cake at InMotion is the fact it offers free SSL certificates with almost every hosting plan except the unmanaged cloud VPS hosting plan, which is mainly designed for IT teams and developers.
InMotion is one of the most popular solutions for a lightning-fast online experience for your website users and for creative workflow management. InMotion is quite affordable, providing one of the most efficient drag-and-drop WordPress site builders, an extensive knowledge-base, and an impressive VPS uptime of 99.999%.
The rules for SSL security are slightly different depending on which plan you’re on. On the shared plan, for instance, you will simply receive a free private SSL certificate. However, on their managed VPS plan, you can install AutoSSL for absolutely no cost directly from your control panel.
AutoSSL will make it much easier to manage your website’s security by renewing your free SSL certificate automatically. AutoSSL also examines all the websites on the same server as yours installing required SSL certificates for all the unprotected active domains.
Along with the free SSL certificate, InMotion also includes up to 260 GB storage in its VPS plans. Priced in the range of $27.99 to $64.99 per month across its three VPS plans, InMotion’s VPS plans also include free backups, and up to 6TB bandwidth.
InMotion Hosting Pricing
Offers an extensive range of hosting plans, selecting a hosting plan on InMotion can be quite overwhelming. While their prices are not among the lowest neither the highest out there, Inmotion provides quite competitive rates if you do the math. Here is a general view of the hosting plans offered at InMotion:
Launch: Starting at $7.99 per month, the Launch plan is the most affordable plan for a professional online presence for startups that should last you longer than a just couple of years. The Launch hosting plan in Inmotion features support for two websites, a free SSL certificate, two MySQL & PostgreSQL Databases, six parked domains, and 25 sub-domains. That, in my opinion, is a solid value for those clients that are not looking to install any e-commerce features on their websites.
Power: Starting at $9.99 per month, the Power plan features support for six websites, a free SSL certificate, and all security features needed to secure e-commerce transactions on the website while protecting clients’ financial data from all potential online threats. This is InMotion’s most cost-effective way to kick off your online enterprise in high gear after doing the math.
Pro: Starting at $15.99 per month, the Pro plan is easily Inmotion’s cheapest plan with reference to a one-time cost. With the pro plan, it will be quite refreshing to have your online enterprise up and running with one of the most revered industry leaders only at below $20. The pro plan also offers you priority support for an unlimited number of websites. That gives any online enterprise out there huge potential to securely and consistently build their online presence.
Virtual Private Server Hosting: Priced at $29.99 per month, the Virtual Private Server plan on InMotion features huge performance upgrades that come with most VPS services. Website uptime has been upgraded from 99.9% to an astounding 99.99%. Your websites also get access to unlimited SQL databases and to the best servers on the globe. VPS hosting features a private SSL certificate, which also helps keep customers happy and loyal and projects competence and security in the marketplace.
Inmotion also offers a dedicated IP server for its enterprise clients. A dedicated IP server costs over $100 a month. However, it does look like great value for what it offers.
A2 Hosting (Best for Cloud Hosting)
Including a free, automated Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate in all its shared hosting plans, A2 Hosting is one of the most straightforward SSL hosting options. A2 Hosting is a hosting firm with its base in Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA and was launched back in 2001. Comfortably among the most popular hosting firms, A2 Hosting boasts solid speed, excellent customer support and a ton of professional hosting features.
A2 Hosting is not only owned by one of the largest large corporate holdings, but also boasts an expansive and enthusiastic fan base. A2 Hosting also has some of the most high-profile bloggers as part of its esteemed client base. You will, therefore, not get stuck for long managing your SSL security, given they also scored high in our review for its customer service.
A2 Hosting also boasts a wide variety of hosting solutions. These include shared Linux hosting, cloud hosting, WordPress hosting, VPS hosting, and dedicated server hosting services for both large and growing online enterprises. A2 Hosting is easily the best provider of cloud hosting in the website hosting space.
A2 Hosting is very popular for its high speed, great uptime and high performance. It is essentially why they are the leaders in cloud hosting. A2 Hosting also features great customer support and a horde of hosting features. While they are a bit down on price point and product onboarding, the speed factor is especially critical for their cloud hosting. Hosting providers like InMotion and SiteGround may be a tad faster than A2 Hosting, but it does live up to its claims online.
A2 Hosting Pricing:
A2Hosting provides three pricing tiers for its shared hosting plans. These include:
Lite Plan: The lite plan is currently priced at $2.96 per month. It features five extensive databases, support for up to one website, unlimited storage and bandwidth, cPanel access, and a free SSL certificate.
Swift Plan: This tier is currently priced at $3.70 per month. It offers unlimited websites, unlimited bandwidth and storage, a free SSL certificate, cPanel access, and single-site migration.
Turbo plan: This tier is currently priced at $7.03 per month. It offers every feature in the former tier and additionally offers turbo (20X speeds) with an A2 Hosting site accelerator.
Like most other web hosts, A2Hosting features additional SSL certificates. If you are looking to explore additional features, you can subscribe to one of the plans A2 Hosting is offering in addition to a free Let’s Encrypt certificate. Clients can choose from:
- Single Site SSL at $49.95 per year – basic protection
- Premium SSL at $99.95 per year – features for business sites
- Wildcard SSL at m $149.95 per year – single certificate protects unlimited subdomains
- Advanced SSL at $199 per year – features for eCommerce sites
You should purchase these via A2 Hosting to keep matters simple and secure. You can choose to stick with the free SSL certificate included in your A2 Hosting plan; your choice will mostly depend on your specific needs.
SiteGround (Best for Reliability)
Established back in 2004, SiteGround has since evolved into one of the industry’s most popular SSL hosting firms on the globe. Based in Sofia, Bulgaria, SiteGround has six offices and multiple data centers in three contents. The firm now boasts 500+ employees and upwards of 500,000 domains. To top off all the lucrative features, SiteGround is also offering its WP Beginner readers a special 63% off deal.
SiteGround is comfortably one of the most popular hosting providers around the globe. It is mostly popular for its reliability and is currently rated as one of the best hosting providers in the WordPress community.
SiteGround provides Let’s Encrypt SSL certificates for free with all its plans and also offers Premium Wildcard and Premium SSL certificates as optional paid extras. Your free certificate will be automatically applied to your domains and automatically renewed, saving you time.
The Premium Wildcard certificate is designed for medium-sized websites, comes with free installation, and costs $90 per year through SiteGround. If you’re a large business site, you might want the Premium SSL, which comes with extended validation and costs $499 per year.SiteGround automatically includes a free SSL certificate, but you can choose to add a paid SSL if you need extra features.
You can acquire as many Let’s Encrypt certificates as you may need for free, It does not really matter which plan you are currently subscribed to; given you already have an active SiteGround account, you are set to go!
SiteGround is revered for featuring the most responsive and reliable customer support service in the website hosting industry. It is basically the reason they are one of the official WordPress recommended hosting providers.
SiteGround Shared Hosting Plan Pricing
Honestly, SiteGround is not among the cheapest hosting providers in the online world, but they do offer solid value for their pricing. SiteGround features automated upgrades, CDN, one-click staging, built-in WP caching, and GIT version control.
Here is an overview of SiteGround’s hosting plans and pricing.
Startup: Priced at $14.99 per month the startup plan features 10 GB of storage, up to one website, unlimited bandwidth, a free SSL certificate, unlimited email accounts, free backup restore, 4GB mailbox size, unlimited subdomains, one-click staging, and unlimited databases.
GrowBig: Starting $24.99 per month, this hosting plan offers support for unlimited websites, 20 GB of storage space, and unlimited email accounts, up to 4GB mailbox size, unlimited databases, free SSL, unlimited subdomains, and free backup restore.
GoGeek: Priced at $39.99, the GoGeek hosting plan on SiteGround offers support for unlimited websites, 40 GB of storage, unlimited subdomains, and unlimited email accounts, 6GB mailbox size, unlimited databases and FTP accounts, a free SSL certificate, and free backup restore.
Please check back soon for five remaining reviews in this 2020 list of best hosting providers with free SSL certificates.