What's the catch?

What's that catch of having this free service? Can someone tell me? I'm new here :slight_smile: I would appreciate it.


No catch. Let's Encrypt is pretty heavily sponsored by all kinds of major players (Mozilla, Cisco, EFF to name a few) which makes this pretty much all possible.

The goal is to secure as much sites as possible (i.e.: 100 %!) and that's only possible with free certificates. So, Let's Encrypt was born :slight_smile: Free certs as in, free beer.


:beer: Free beer!

:speaking_head: Hear! Hear!

:raising_hand_man: Here! Here!



Welcome to the Let's Encrypt Community, Renz :slightly_smiling_face:


Some might consider it a catch that certificate lifetimes are only 90 days. One of the reasons is to encourage renewal automation which has a bit of a learning curve for those new to the process.


Not to mention the good people on places like GitHub supporting the software :grin:


Another thing that makes Let's Encrypt possible is the very high level of automation on the server side (so that the costs from issuing more certificates stay extremely low). If you need something unusual or individualized, you simply can't get it from Let's Encrypt.

@renz1234, if you'd like to read a huge amount of history and detail about how this service came to be, you can take a look at our academic paper about this history:

But as @Osiris says, the money to run the service comes from organizational sponsors, and to a smaller extent from individual donors.

Some interesting and less-technically-detailed documents that focus on the organizational aspects are the ISRG annual reports (from the non-profit organization that operates the service):


What's the catch? FREE IS NEVER FREE!
[I love the skepticism/cynicism]

To a certain degree, such an assumption is actually correct - it really isn't FREE.
The costs have already been paid by others (long-term sponsors [~97%] and donations [~3%]).
So they have already been prepaid!
You are welcome to take freely (a fair share) without having to pay anyone anything ever.
It is always nice when people donate (even a small amount) to show their appreciation.
Like: Tipping a waiter for their service even when the meal was free.
[but, again, it is NOT required]

Cheers from Miami :beers:
[ I give back (pay it forward) by donating my time here ]
[ as an unpaid volunteer for like 3 years now :slight_smile: ]


Makes me feel absolutely laughable just fine with my probably barely more then a month here


I have not been paid for work for so long it's a joke

as for free beer guess you get me a cab home.....


I think a lot of the skepticism, at least in the US, comes from over a century of right leaning policies and the fabricated “Red Scare”. To this day, if someone suggests anything that might be seen as socialist, the knee-jerk reaction is it must be Communist. This simply isn’t true. Americans, and to a lesser degree, Canadians are taught there is no such thing as a free lunch, and a lot of people are sceptical of “free” stuff today because of scams and that we learned Social Media really isn’t free, it just doesn’t cost you any money directly. A good way of looking at Let’s Encrypt is it’s kind of like a guarantee basic income. You are provided with enough to survive (or in the case of Let’s Encrypt, a basic DV certificate), but if you want more than is provided, you need to work for it (i.e. you need to buy an EV cert from one of the for profit providers). That said, if there was a guaranteed basic income, a lot of people would be freed up to work on open source and charitable projects like this, so maybe [joke incoming for the humour impaired] Let’s Encrypt is a Communist plot!!! :rofl:


Let it be the first of many more!

There are those who don't believe in charities.
If you feel that you are one of them and you feel that strongly on not ever accepting, nor giving, any "handouts", then I urge you to ease your conscience by donating a reasonable portion of the value you perceive having received.
[and just tell yourself that "you got it on sale"]


As much as I think that politics should be kept in their place, I do think that the “you get what you pay for” sort of thing did originate with politics in the US. I do think that whoever is behind this are just good people and that's the most important thing. :slightly_smiling_face:


I would argue that the "policy" of the truly "right-leaning" is for the government to stop issuing and enforcing policies and legislation that usurp people's abilities to handle their own affairs.

A spade is a spade. Personally, I see overreacting to something without weighing its merits and consequences to be the only real problem here. Sometimes those consequences are complex, difficult to ascertain, and far-reaching.

Even acting in altruism, people are still acting according to their own values and thus their own agendas. Even if one happens to be an atheist, it's fairly easy to contemplate the statement that "Even God does what he thinks is best."

I mean no offense by what I'm about to say. I take such a view as an incredibly childlike portrayal of a valuable service and the efforts made to ensure its existence. Certificates are not apples and thus do not grow on trees. No one is entitled to them in any way at all. Those who view the fruits of other people's labors as "givens" are, IMO, acting with extreme ingratitude like a child taking for granted the food, shelter, and protection given by its parents. For those of us of faith, we thank God for even the most basic things, like the fact that there are apples growing on trees at all, because we understand that even this hangs by the thinnest of threads. If God is not the target of one's gratitude, that's fine, but operating with gratitude for what exists, regardless of pinpointing its origin, still prevents one from taking things for granted.

Who will provide this basic income? Money doesn't grow on trees either. Does a cat, squirrel, or bird believe it is entitled to an effortless lunch? Why is man so arrogant? With basic income, I do believe that there would be those who have the gratitude and character to return on what they've been given with something of value. I don't believe it would be the majority. Consider that as a democratic principle. As for me, I choose to be thankful to those involved and whatever powers may be for the fact that the cost of running a secure website has been reduced to be within the means of common people who are free to explore their potentials on the global stage. I contribute my efforts into supporting and expanding this endeavor so that there are more benefits and more may benefit. You're welcome.


Alright folks, a good time is being had by all, but we're veering quite off topic from the simple questions of "what are the downsides to using Let's Encrypt," and "how is Let's Encrypt sustained?" into quite heady topics that are beyond our purview in this humble forum. Let's call the question answered and consider it good. :slight_smile:


This is not the place to discuss politics, this is the place to help people with Let's Encrypt.


True. It was not my intent to start a political argument, rather to try and help people who are new to this concept of Let’s Encrypt understand in terms they can relate to. I do see I may have stepped over the line by adding the bit on the end about a political idea that could free up people do even more to help Let’s Encrypt. Sorry.