Using email with domains hosted elsewhere

You could route your emails through our mail server even with your domain hosted elsewhere. It only requires buying a hosting plan and pointing your MX records to our mail server.

Companies relying heavily on emails for businesses might use two or more mail servers from different providers to ensure a server failure or downtime doesn’t prevent them from receiving essential emails.

They could use MX records to default to a second server when the primary server fails. Some might want to balance the email loads between servers to ensure the primary server doesn’t get overwhelmed and default to a third server when the servers fail. 

This article guides you on using email with domains hosted elsewhere, but let’s understand what an MX record is, MX records priority, and how mail servers query the records.

What’s MX Record?

MX record, short for mail exchanger record, is a DNS record that directs an email to a mail server. Pointing the record to your mail provider ensures you receive emails.

The records specify and prioritize the incoming mail servers that receive the email messages people send to your business email account. 

Suppose you host your website with Scalahosting but have your email hosted elsewhere, maybe due to migrating your website to Scalahosting. In that case, the MX record specifies the incoming mail server that receives your messages—Scalahosting or your old host.

And, you could even use the two servers.

Understanding the MX Records Priority

MX priority value indicates your server preference.

Two servers can mitigate email losses due to server failure. You could configure MX records for the two servers and assign them priority values to designate the order the servers receive your email message.

You could use any number as the priority value. 

The outgoing mail (SMTP) servers treat the record with the lowest number as the primary server and only delivers to the server with a higher priority value when the primary server fails, hence acting as a backup mail server.

For instance, if you use “10” as mail1.example.com MX record’s priority value and “20” for mail2.example.com, SMTP servers try mail1 first to deliver your emails before defaulting to mail2 when it fails.

But if you assign the value “10” to the two MX records and “20” to a third server, the email provider balances the load between mail1 and mail2 to avoid overwhelming the servers and defaults to mail3 when the servers fail.

Using email with domains hosted elsewhere

This MX configuration balances the load but doesn’t specify any backup server, and you could lose your emails if the two servers fail. If you have a third server, assigning a higher priority value (like 20) specifies it as the backup.

Your emails default to that server when the ‘balancing’ servers fail. These fail-safe measures ensure you don’t lose important messages. The backup server receives your emails until the primary server(s) are back online.

Querying an MX Record

Message Transfer Agents (MTA) is a program for transporting, delivering, and forwarding mails, and you could liken it to an SMTP server. It queries your MX records to help you receive your email messages. 

Let’s quickly examine how it works querying MX records? When people send you email messages, the MTA sends a DNS query to find the incoming mail servers that’ll receive the messages to establish an SMTP connection to those servers.

It tries to connect first to the most prioritized server (the domain with the lowest priority value). 

If the primary server fails to handle the requests, the MTA defaults to the backup server, if specified, and reverts to the primary server when it comes back online. 

But if there’s no backup server, email sending fails whenever the primary server goes down.

Adding MX Record to Your DNS Record

Follow these steps to add an MX record to your domain’s DNS zone.

Open your browser and log in to your Spanel account—an all-in-one Scalahosting’s control panel.

Using email with domains hosted elsewhere

Spanel takes you to your dashboard after logging in successfully.

Using email with domains hosted elsewhere

Scroll down the dashboard till you get to the DOMAINS section. Click the DNS editor tool to add an MX record to the domain.

Using email with domains hosted elsewhere

Select the domain you want to add an MX record from the drop-domain menu.

Using email with domains hosted elsewhere

Scroll to the ADD A NEW RECORD section and input your MX records information.

Using email with domains hosted elsewhere

After that you need to :

  • Enter your domain name (for instance, domain.com) in the Name field.
  • Leave the default value in the TTL text box.
  • Select MX as the DNS Type.
  • Enter a value in the Priority text box.
  • Type your mail server address in the Value text box. Use a Fully Qualified Domain Name like mail.domain.com instead of the IP address.

Click Add Record to add the MX configuration to your DNS records. 

Repeat the steps to add another MX record for other mail servers. Use the same priority value to specify a ‘balancing’ server (if you want to balance the email loads) or a higher value for a backup mail server.

Wait for about 48 hours for the records to propagate across the internet, and you could use a free DNS Checker to monitor the propagation.

Editing MX Records

To edit your MX records on Spanel, log in to the account to open the DNS editor.

On the DNS editor page, scroll to the DNS EDITOR Section to see all your DNS records. Locate the MX record you want to edit and click the Edit button.

Using email with domains hosted elsewhere

Make your changes on the dialogue box, click Save to enable the changes, or use the Delete button to remove the record from your DNS.

Using email with domains hosted elsewhere

That’s it.

Wrapping It Up

You could prepare for mail server failures by configuring an MX record to point to a backup server, and this article makes adding MX records to your domain painless. 

Follow the steps to set up this configuration in your Spanel in a few minutes, and don’t hesitate to contact support when you need assistance.

You could host your email servers on Scalahosting for top-level performance, security, and scalability.

Rado

Author

Working in the web hosting industry for over 13 years, Rado has inevitably got some insight into the industry. A digital marketer by education, Rado is always putting himself in the client's shoes, trying to see what's best for THEM first. A man of the fine detail, you can often find him spending 10+ minutes wondering over a missing comma or slightly skewed design.

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