What Is the Difference Between Multi-Domain and Wildcard Certificates?

Multi-Domain SSL/TLS Certificates

A multi-domain SSL certificate is a single certificate that you can use to secure multiple domains (or subdomains if you list them as SANs)

Let's have a look at this example: 

John has different websites for each of his businesses and he wants to use HTTPS on all of them without the hassles of managing multiple SSL/TLS certificates. Suppose he wants to secure the following websites:

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Warning on Twitter Naked and www domain

For a single domain, the www is being added automatically, but for multi-domain certificates, this needs to be done manually.

Starting with the Basic subscription he can secure all of these sites by citing them as SANs on a single certificate. 

 

Wildcard SSL/TLS Certificates

With a wildcard SSL certificate, you can secure unlimited subdomains using one certificate at a single level.

Looking back at our example, let's say John has purchased a domain for website1.com, and let's assume that website1.com has multiple sub-domains: login.website1.com, order.website1.com, checkout.website1.com

With a wildcard SSL certificate for *website1.com, John can secure all sub-domains related to website1.com. The asterisk is used to specify one particular level that it can secure, not multiple levels:

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You need to be on the Premium subscription in order to issue Wildcard Certificates

Multi-Domain SSL vs Wildcard SSL

Multi-Domain SSL SSL Wildcard Certificate
A single certificate for multiple domains and subdomains. A single certificate for an unlimited number of subdomains at a specific level.
Limitations on the number of domains covered are defined by the issuing certificate authority. No limits on the number of subdomains covered.
Example: www.website.com, blog.website.com, www.website.org, www.example.com, etc. can all be secured using one certificate. Example: *.site.com secures every subdomain at that level such as order.site.com, blog.site.com, etc.
The different domain names to be secured must be defined and added at the time the certificate is purchased. Additional subdomains can be added or removed at any time.
Available for all levels of validation – DV, OV, and EV. Available for DV and OV levels of validation only. EV is not an option for wildcard certificates.


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