The DNS record that identifies an email server is the Mail Exchange (MX) record. MX records specify which email server is responsible for accepting email messages on behalf of a particular domain name. When someone sends an email message to a domain, the sender’s email server looks up the MX record for that domain to determine where to send the message.
The MX record specifies the hostname of the email server and a priority value. The priority value indicates the order in which email servers should be tried in case the primary server is unavailable.
What is an Email Server?
An email server is a computer system used for sending and receiving emails. When an email is sent, it undergoes a series of servers to reach the intended recipient. An email server software must be installed on your computer system so that it performs as a mail server. The software helps the system administrator in managing and creating email accounts for the respected domain hosted on the server.
The primary purpose of an email server is to collect and distribute emails to the final destination. It can also encrypt emails to ensure a secure transfer of data. Emails are integral to corporate communication and the number of global email users is expected to grow to 4.6 billion by 2025. However, this also gives an increased surface area to malicious actors to attempt phishing and spamming, making it important for IT-driven companies to invest in DMARC services and use encryption.
Types of Email Servers
An email server can be perceived as an online post office where emails are exchanged within and without a network. Let’s know its types to learn which types of DNS record identifies an email server.
SMTP is short for Simple Mail Transfer Protocol, an email server protocol managing outgoing email requests and sending emails. Without it, an email can’t be sent.
POP3 is short for Post Office Protocol 3, a commonly used protocol used for receiving email messages over a secure network connection. It’s a single-way protocol where emails are received and held on the email server. The number ‘3’ refers to the third version of the original POP protocol.
IMAP stands for Internet Message Access Protocol, a server used to keep copies of messages on the email server. It basically allows users to access emails wherever, whenever, and from whichever device.
What is a DNS Server?
A DNS server is just like a phonebook where domain names and their corresponding IP addresses are stored. So, when you type a domain name like ‘amazon.com,’ the DNS server is responsible to find the corresponding IP address to the site you want to visit. This is because it’s easier for humans to remember domain names instead of numerical IP addresses like 123.45.678.
DNS servers run dedicated programs to communicate with each other using special protocols. So, when you enter a domain name in the address bar, the DNS server will send a DNS query to various servers, each of which translates to a different part of the domain name you entered.
Types of DNS Servers
There are three types of DNS servers- primary servers, secondary servers, and caching servers.
The primary DNS server is the authoritative server of the zone where tasks like creating subdomains are performed. Apart from this, alterations related to the zone or modifications or additions to RRs in the zone files should be performed using the primary server only.
Generally, there’s only one primary server for any given zone, except when you integrate AD services and a Microsoft DNS server.
The primary DNS server usually has its own IP address that’s used by client computers to send queries while resolving a domain name into an IP address. It may behave as a secondary DNS server if several domains are hosted on the same computer.
Secondary DNS servers are backup servers hosted by your domain registrar. The guidelines are already set to allow them to handle DNS requests. It’s used to retrieve DNS records where the main server isn’t available or fails to perform its function.
They also help to automatically update information from the primary server so that you don’t have to do it manually when there are any changes in your infrastructure.
Caching servers behave as an extra layer of backup for primary and secondary servers. However, these are complicated and time-taking to configure.
What is a DNS Record?
A DNS record is a set of instructions loaded on a DNS server that tells about a domain and its corresponding IP address. These instructions are important for the process of DNS lookup. All domains must have at least a few vital DNS records so that users can access their website using a domain name. Apart from this, there are a few optional record types too.
Which Type of DNS Record Identifies an Email Server?
Let’s dive into the main topic- which type of DNS record identifies an email server.
A DNS MX record or Mail Exchange record is required for matching emails to the intended recipient’s address. It defines which mail servers are assigned to accept incoming mail for a specific domain. It also tells the route for the emails sent to that domain. You may experience failure in email delivery if it isn’t configured correctly.
DNS records and how they help identify email servers
When you send an email to someone, you probably don’t give much thought to the journey that email takes before it arrives in the recipient’s inbox. But there are actually a lot of behind-the-scenes processes that happen to make sure your email is delivered to the right place.
One of the most important components of email delivery is the Domain Name System (DNS). DNS is a system that translates domain names (like google.com or yahoo.com) into IP addresses (like 188.8.131.52 or 184.108.40.206). Without DNS, it would be much more difficult to connect to websites or send emails.
In addition to translating domain names to IP addresses, DNS also stores various types of records that provide additional information about a domain name. One of the most important types of DNS records for email delivery is the Mail Exchange (MX) record.
An MX record is a type of DNS record that specifies which email server(s) are responsible for accepting incoming email messages for a particular domain name. When someone sends an email to a recipient at a specific domain name (like [email protected]), their email server uses DNS to look up the MX record for example.com. The MX record will typically include the hostname of the email server(s) responsible for handling email for that domain.
Here’s an example of what an MX record might look like:
Breaking down the MX record
- example.com. is the domain name that this MX record applies to.
- IN is the record class, which is usually “IN” for Internet.
- MX is the record type, indicating that this is an MX record.
- 10 is the priority value, indicating the order in which email servers should be tried. A lower value means a higher priority.
- mail.example.com. is the hostname of the email server responsible for handling incoming email for example.com.
In this example, any incoming email messages for example.com will be directed to the email server at mail.example.com. If the mail server at that hostname is unavailable, the sender’s email server will attempt to send the message to the next MX record with a higher priority value.
MX records can be configured with multiple email servers to provide redundancy and ensure that email messages are delivered even if one server is down or unavailable. It’s also possible to set up backup MX records with higher priority values, so that if the primary email server is unavailable, the backup server(s) will accept incoming email until the primary server is back online.
Overall, MX records are a critical part of email delivery and help ensure that your messages are delivered to the right place. By specifying the hostname of the email server(s) responsible for handling incoming email, MX records help make sure that your email messages reach their intended recipients.