In this article, we will talk about the primary differences between shared vs. regular SSL certificates.
What is a SSL Certificate?
In the most basic form, a SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) provides a means to encrypt traffic between the server (Site5) and website visitors. This helps prevent the possibility of someone between the server and the viewer from capturing or “snooping” the data that is sent (form data, cookies, images, etc).
SSL certificates are a very important piece of the puzzle that makes up the internet. Without a means to secure traffic, no login or credit card information would be safe.
For more detailed information about what a SSL certificate is and how they work, please see our dedicated article on the subject by clicking here.
Shared SSL Certificate
What is it?
A shared SSL certificate is a verified certificate that is setup server wide. By using the hostname of the server (e.g. s1-dallas.accountservergroup.com) you are able to connect security to your website through the temporary url (e.g. s1-dallas.accountservergroup.com/~username) that comes preconfigured with all accounts.
It is available without the need for you to request it or configure it as it is automatically available for all accounts on the server.
The shared SSL certificate is most commonly used to help secure email traffic between the server and your email client (e.g. Microsoft Outlook, Mac Mail, etc).
What is it not?
A shared SSL will not work directly with your domain. This is because the certificate signature only matches the server hostname and not your actual domain.
Because of this, if you intend on using a SSL certificate for public use (e.g. to secure login pages, online shops, etc) and you wish to use your domain, you will need to purchase a normal SSL certificate.
Normal SSL Certificate
What is it?
A normal SSL certificate is used when a public, secure means of communication is needed. They are most commonly used for sites that have login forms, online shops where credit card or other secure information is needed, etc.
Because it is attached to your domain, the public will be able to take advantage of the security without using obscure temporary URLs. This also helps keep your brand/site “true to its name”, literally.
Note that an SSL certificate requires an IP address assigned to the domain it is installed to, and that IP needs to be used only by that domain. This is why the shared SSL certificate requires you to use the temporary URL, displaying the server hostname. As well the domain name that the SSL certificate covers is very specific – in most cases, an SSL certificate will cover www.yourdomain.com or yourdomain.com, not both.
For information on how to redirect non-www traffic to your www domain, please click here.