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We need an SSL certificate to facilitate remote access and administration by a small number of employees. I don't want to have to train a bunch of non-technical users to install a self-published cert on their home computers, so I'd prefer to purchase one from a well-trusted provider. We won't be using it for any kind of e-commerce or things like that, so it seems hard to justify paying the prices demanded by some of the big-name providers.

Who are some good low-cost providers to consider? What are the important differences between the offerings that are available at different price points? (And is the certificate business really as much of a racket as it seems?)

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9 Answers 9

up vote 11 down vote accepted

The cheapest ones are not practically less secure than the expensive ones. Since they are for your own users, the extra marketing boost from a well-known name is wasted. The cheapest option from godaddy.com should work for your purposes.

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godaddy is great and quick! –  Chris Sep 17 '10 at 15:30
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I don't know why everyone recommends GoDaddy. I've never once had reason to use their services, as there are so many places that are much cheaper (especially for SSL) –  Mark Henderson May 31 '11 at 23:07
    
Godaddy is often cheaper because they are ALWAYS runing promotions and coupons. I've never bought anything from godaddy with less than 15% off. –  Grant Jun 16 '12 at 4:22

Check out http://www.startssl.com/ for some low price (and simple free options). I use the free version for my sites SSL. One caveat, is the certificates are already understood by Firefox, but IE warns that the certificate may come from an untrusted site.

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StartCom has been included in the Root Certificates Update for Internet Explorer since September 2009 (see Eddy Nigg's blog post "The 'e' of the Internet" dated August 19, 2009: blog.startcom.org/?p=205). They offer personal S/MIME certificates, standard SSL certs, and UC certs, also called “Subject Alternative Name” or “SAN” certs, which work well with Exchange 2007 and later. The certificates are essentially free; you pay additional fees for the level of validation desired (up to and including EV certs which turn the address bar green). –  jnaab Jun 3 '10 at 18:28

Do you need the third party validation and trust of public root ca's? Sounds like you could get away with setting up your own box with certificate services and issue your own.

I've gotten SSL certs from GoDaddy.com lately. Cheap ($50US / 2 yrs).

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I use the cheapest ones from GoDaddy.com too. –  JAG May 5 '09 at 17:47
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50 USD for 2 years and you call that cheap? I pay less than 20 for ha time. namecheap.com. –  TomTom Jan 13 '11 at 5:23

I have used RapidSSL, and they work without fail in all browsers I've encountered. The only downside is that Windows Mobile 5 and 6 don't natively recognize them for Exchange/ActiveSync support. But the cert can be manually added to these phones.

http://www.rapidssl.com/index_ssl.htm

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If you are willing to install a CA certificate, but you don't want to have to deal with maintaining your own CA, then you can use CACert

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I have used CAcert, but had hoped they would make better progress toward passing the required audits to become included in major browsers as a Trusted Root CA. I became CAcert Notary and a Thawte Web of Trust Notary and encouraged the use of Thawte Freemail certificates for S/MIME e-mail signing and encryption; unfortunately, Thawte discontinued their program in November 2009 after years of neglect. StartCom has a similar WoT model to add a bit of validation to their free certificates, but there are few notaries around to date; an expansion of their WoT would fill the void left by Thawte... –  jnaab Jun 3 '10 at 18:34

Don't know how it got missed, but we use http://www.cheapssls.com/ - which start at $US10/year which is less than half the price of a GoDaddy certificate.

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A big +1 for this; I used them to buy a RapidSSL certificate, for which the end-authority is Equifax. This certificate sees to be acceptable everywhere, and at a tenner a year it's finally a sensible price. –  MadHatter Sep 6 '11 at 13:27

If it's for your employees only then you're probably better off creating your own corporate certification authority. It's fairly straight-forward under Windows and Unix, and then you can use GPOs or another facility to push your root certificate to the workstations. That way your IT department can issue and revoke certificates without paying anything.

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One of the main reasons for the cert is to allow users to log into an SBS Remote Web Workplace from their home computers, so a corporate CA won't help. –  phenry May 5 '09 at 16:57
    
Why not? I MS cert services installed in my home lab and have issued SSL certs to all my servers from it. The servers are all Internet facing and the SSL works just fine. The only "downside" is that browsers wine about not being able to validate the cert which I obviously don't care about. –  squillman May 5 '09 at 17:02

I've used ebizid before, their prices seem pretty good. Have a look at the Basic Certificate under Products.

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You could sign your own, if you've got the infrastructure. But it wouldn't be trusted by the remote machine unless you installed the CA on that machine. If you have multiple needs w/in one domain I'd go for a wildcard cert from godaddy and spread the cost over multiple uses.

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