It’s 2020 and all websites should have an SSL certificate. No exceptions. While most website owners know this, they may not know what type is best for their site. This article should serve as a great starting point if you’ve been wondering about the differences between single-domain and Wildcard SSL certificates. 

Why you need an SSL

Just in case you’re not in the know about the benefits of SSL, we’d be remiss not to give you a quick primer. An SSL certificate is a type of digital certificate that you can install on your website to create a secure, encrypted connection between a user’s web browser and your website. Data sent over an encrypted connection is basically rendered unreadable while it’s in transit, so it can’t be read by third parties. The encrypted connection is created via the HTTPS protocol, which you’ve probably noticed in your browser’s address bar whenever you’ve visited a secure site. So, in summary, SSL certificates basically keep personal user data safe.

Now that you’re convinced of the importance of SSLs for your website and its users, it’s time to find out which one you should choose.

As the name implies, single-domain SSLs secure a single domain (such as example.com). Wildcard SSLs are less self-explanatory going by name alone. A Wildcard SSL certificate will secure a single domain and subdomains of one level that are linked to it.

Let’s take a closer look at each type.

Benefits of a single-domain SSL

If you have a single website with no subdomains, and no plans for adding any subdomains in the future, then a single-domain SSL certificate really is the best option. It’s a simple solution for securing a simple website with minimal functionalities. 

Benefits of a Wildcard SSL

If you have a single domain and one or more subdomains, a Wildcard SSL is really the most practical choice. You could theoretically protect each subdomain with a single-domain SSL, but it would likely become hard to manage and expensive. With a Wildcard, you only have to keep track of a single certificate. 

The great thing about a Wildcard SSL is that you don’t even need to have created your subdomains yet. This kind of SSL will automatically protect subdomains you already have, as well as any subdomains you add to your site in the future.

What does a subdomain of one level look like, anyway? Some examples might be shop.example.com and shoes.example.com. There are many reasons one might have multiple subdomains linked to their site. It can be beneficial to separate out the areas of the site that have different functionalities, such as a mailbox, login page, or an e-commerce store. It could even be a version of the site in a different language. Some programmers also like to use subdomains as testing environments. 

Conclusion

Now that you know the difference between these two types of certificates, which SSL you choose should be a simple choice. It basically comes down to whether or not you have subdomains and if you would like to add subdomains in the future.

If you’re happy with having a single domain, then a regular SSL certificate is perfect for you. If you have a single domain with linked one-level subdomains, or plan on creating some at a later date, then you should choose a Wildcard SSL certificate.

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