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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

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    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. Sep 24, 2015 at 8:22
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Buying a "multiple domain" SSL is cheaper (about $10 extra per domain) then a wildcard cert and you can add mail.example.com as a FQDN SAN/secondary domain to the example.com SSL package. My understanding is this is the best cheapest way to approach email server certs on a budget.

edit: An explanation for down votes would be appreciated - I literally found this question doing my own research (I may be wrong in ways I'd like to know about).

True letsencrypt would be cheaper (e.g. "free" as in facebook) and even though lestsenrypt has good references including stackexchange and protonmail I personally would not deal with them and honestly did not even consider them as an option tho they are worth the mention.

My understanding is using a mail subdomain is more future proof as it makes moving email to it's own server easier should you find the need.

A comershial multidomain cert can be had for about $50/year where a wildcard runs several hundred.

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    Certificates (including wildcard certificates) are free from letsencrypt.org and their certificates are often installed automatically by web hosting companies. Feb 22 at 20:31
  • Did you just down vote my first comment here because I'm not promoting let's encrypt as an option? Really? Let me clarify: among paid for ssl certifications like sectigostore.com or comodosslstore.com wildcard certs are significantly more expensive then multi-domain certs and multi domain can be include subdomains (e.g. sub.example.com and example.com both count as different domains). As to weather or not you trust let's cert vs comodo is a matter of doing your research...
    – AWolf
    Feb 23 at 2:04
  • Rather than adding details in comments, please edit your answer to add requested information. You can then comment saying that you have done so. Comments here may get hidden by "show more comments" or could be deleted without notice. Editing updates into your answer ensures that they don't get lost and that everybody who wants to use your answer sees them. Feb 23 at 10:57
  • I'm not the one who downvoted, I just added a comment because your answer says "best cheapest way" when a free way exists. I'd be happy to give you an upvote if you edit your answer with the further details from your comment. Feb 23 at 10:58
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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.

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  • 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? Jul 27, 2015 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, 2015 at 5:58

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