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Is it necessary to have a site answer on HTTPS non-www? Do visitors go there?

Background on why I am asking: I have a client which have bought a new multi-domain certificate for their website. It includes the www.example version for multiple different TLDs. The certificate does not include the domains without www so the site won't be accessible without www if the request is on HTTPS.

I have recommended the client to buy a new certificate that include the non-www domain addresses as well but they are hesitant to do so. A new certificate including twice as many domains will cost them quite a lot of money. Free certificates using Let's Encrypt is unfortunately not an option on their server.

  • They have been online for 10+ years.
  • They've been using HTTPS for both www and non-www before.
  • The site has had redirection from non-www to www.
  • They don't appear to have any important external links on HTTPS non-www.
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    Only somebody with access to the server logs (like you) can answer the question of "do visitors go there"? Instead of asking us, you should look. – Stephen Ostermiller Nov 19 '18 at 11:19
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    @StephenOstermiller The site in question has had redirect from http://a.tld to https://a.tld to https://www.a.tld. So I'm having a hard time answering that question. I'm looking for some general input, perhaps some insight new to me. – Jonas Äppelgran Nov 19 '18 at 12:02
  • Like Stephen I think the order is strange: you should first have assessed if people are coming to the non-www server and then decide which certificates to buy. Also some/many? CA automatically create a certificate with example.com as SAN when you buy it for www.example.com or the opposite. You may need to shop around CAs. Also "They've been using HTTPS for both www and non-www before" so they have (or had) a certificate for the naked domain also. If they want to keep this access (only up to them and all existing inbound links) they need the appropriate certificate... – Patrick Mevzek Dec 7 '18 at 0:10
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TLS/SSL negotiation is between the server and browser. You can redirect non-www at the DNS level but it's easy enough to do this at the server level.

EDIT to be clear: redirecting "at the DNS level", I mean your DNS provider may be able to do an URL redirect through their own internal service. This is not possible through DNS by itself.

  • Redirects can't be done at the DNS level. A CNAME is not a redirect. You always need a web server running to actually issue the redirect. – Stephen Ostermiller Nov 19 '18 at 15:43
  • This also doesn't address the question of whether supporting HTTPS redirects for the naked domain is worth it in terms of would commonly be used. – Stephen Ostermiller Nov 19 '18 at 15:45
  • @StephenOstermiller Some DNS providers can do that. Namecheap can. I don't use them for that so I might be misunderstanding but they have an option for it. My answer does answer the question because the question seems to think it's a burden. I'm saying it's easy to do so just do it. – Rob Nov 19 '18 at 16:05
  • Namecheap redirect – Rob Nov 19 '18 at 16:13
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    Name cheap is lying. Or rather they are simplifying their UI in a way that disguises what they are actually doing behind the scenes. Rather than set a "redirect record" what they are actually doing is assigning the DNS record to their own web server and issuing a redirect from a web server. I assure you that there is no such thing as a "redirect record" in DNS. – Stephen Ostermiller Nov 19 '18 at 17:03

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