SAN and Wildcard Certificates

SAN and Wildcard Certificates ─ Unraveling Their Unique Characteristics

Running a successful firm involves intelligent use of all available resources. One critical component of resource management is appropriately safeguarding your website, ensuring that it remains a safe zone for users and fosters confidence.

An SSL certificate, a necessary digital certificate that provides safe, encrypted communications between a website and an internet user’s browser, is a key participant in this endeavor.

Among the different sorts of SSL certificates, there are two main categories: SAN (Subject Alternative Name) and Wildcard. Each has its own set of powers and limitations. This article will clarify the distinctions between these two types of SSL certificates, allowing you to make an informed decision based on your specific requirements.

SAN Certificates Explained


SAN certificates, also known as Subject Alternative Name certificates, are a clever technique to use a single SSL certificate across several domains. Typically, an SSL certificate is obtained for each domain that requires security. For example, if you own two domains, you would generally acquire and install two distinct certificates on your server.

This strategy, however, has some downsides. It is not only expensive, but it is also inefficient. Consider owning five distinct domains. Purchasing and installing five distinct certificates on your server is a time-consuming and costly process. Furthermore, any future changes, such as adding another domain or renaming an existing one, would necessitate a redo of this entire process.

SAN certificates effectively mitigate these concerns. They allow you to install a single certificate on your server and specify which domains should be protected by this certificate using a text file. If you have five domains, you simply need one SAN certificate and a text file with the five domain names. No matter which of these five sites a person visits, they will see the green padlock icon, which indicates a secure and trustworthy site.

Defining Wildcard Certificate

A Wildcard certificate is a type of digital certificate that can be used to secure many subdomains. It is structurally similar to a conventional certificate, except it includes an asterisk (*) to denote the secured domain name. For example, if your domain is and you also have, you might use * in your wildcard certificate’s subject field. This would allow the security of both and to be provided by a single certificate.

When you submit a wildcard certificate request to a Certificate Authority (CA), the details of each subdomain to be secured by your wildcard certificate are required. The CA verifies the DNS records of each subdomain against what was requested before issuing your wildcard certificate, a process known as name validation.

The cost of SSL certificate varies according to the type of certificate used and the seller from whom it is obtained. A basic domain validation SSL certificate costs between $10 and $50 per year. This is the cheapest option because it confirms that you own the domain for which the SSL certificate is being requested.

Practical Applications ─ When to Use Which?


A SAN certificate is an excellent alternative when you need to host numerous domain names on a single IP address. It is widely used by organizations that handle multiple websites or businesses that want the flexibility to manage their SSL certificates cheaply without paying for each additional domain.

A wildcard certificate, on the other hand, is suitable for protecting multiple subdomains within the same domain. This makes it an excellent alternative for corporations that maintain several websites. It can also safeguard other services such as emails, FTP, and IMAP. A wildcard certificate, for example, is ideal for securing:

  1. (for the main website of your organization)
  2. (for the page of your client account)
  3. (for your personal blog)

Considerations and Risks When Purchasing an SSL Certificate

There are a few things to bear in mind when you explore your alternatives for acquiring an SSL certificate.

Look for a Firm

To begin, ensure that the firm from which you are about to get an SSL certificate has been operational for a while and has a strong track record. This ensures that they are familiar with the technical aspects of SSL certificates and can provide the correct advice on securing your website.

Customer Support

Next, inquire about the company’s customer service. Will they be able to address any problems or issues with their product swiftly if something goes wrong? You want to ensure that if difficulties happen, someone is accessible to assist in resolving them as soon as possible so that any delays in website access or other issues do not impact your consumers.



Finally, while purchasing an SSL certificate, evaluate the cost. While some companies may charge more than others, keep in mind that there are many factors involved in determining a final price tag: prices vary not only based on the number of years purchased at once (for example), but they also depend on what type of server infrastructure exists at each location (such as multi-tier vs single-tier), and whether or not.

Hosting Company

The first step is to take advantage of your hosting provider. Your hosting company may supply its own certificate, which will be significantly less expensive than the ones you can purchase on your own. If they do not provide one, they may be able to recommend one that does. They may also offer a limited number of certificates for sale at a reduced price.

When obtaining an SSL certificate, seek certificate validation.


The utility scope is the primary difference between wildcard and SAN certificates. A wildcard certificate enables the addition of an unlimited number of subdomains to a single root domain, whereas SAN certificates enable the hosting of numerous domains on a single IP address.

Your specific business objectives and the structure of your online presence ultimately determine the decision between a SAN certificate and a wildcard certificate. Both types of certificates are critical in guaranteeing the security and credibility of your digital assets. Understanding these intricacies will surely help you make the best option for your company.