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I would like to purchase a basic SSL certificate, which allows me to secure a single domain (as opposed to a wildcard certificate for multiple subdomains). I was going to apply this to mail.example.com, but would I be able to simply use example.com and have the website and email use the same certificate? Do I simply change my DNS MX record from @ mail.example.com to @ example.com

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you are right.

1.buy a normal ssl certificate for 'yourdomain.com'

2.create a mx record without mail. suffix

yourdomain.com. 800 IN  MX  10 yourdomain.com.

MX domain on the right should be equal to ssl certificate domain. That's what program checks when sending emails. It helps your mails not ending in Junk mail.

3.The same ssl certificate can be used for a web server & mail server because a standard ssl certificate works for yourdomain.com & www.yourdomain.com (you don't need a wildcard ssl certificate) reference: https://www.clickssl.com/blog/do-i-need-different-ssl-certificates-for-www-non-www-domain

people will use yourdomain.com in their mail software settings to call the mail server. no need to point to mail.yourdomain.com

  • In addition to this answer, it's important to remind the OP that using yourdomain.com as a mail server address will only work if the mailserver is hosted on the same server as the domain name. Other than that, good post. – Peter Bishop Sep 24 '15 at 8:22
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To answer your first question "would I be able to simply use example.com and have the website and email use the same certificate", No, not unless you buy a wildcard SSL certificate.

Wildcard SSL certificates secure your website URL and an unlimited number of its subdomains. For example, a single Wildcard certificate can secure www.example.com, blog.example.com, and mail.example.com.

  • Thanks for the reply - I can understand that if I had the website and IMAP/SMTP addresses as www. and mail., but what if I secured just the domain.com and used that address for the mail as well? – Alex Holsgrove Jul 27 '15 at 8:07
  • Of course you can have a single certificate for my website and my mail server. The only prerequisite is that they are both accessed via same domain -> If my mailserver is accessed via domain.com and my website with domain.com one single certificate is enough – Danny. Sep 24 '15 at 5:58

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