How to setup your MX record

There are many questions in the NG about what to tell your ISP in order to have email forwarded to your SBS server. Here’s a sample Q&A:

Q: I followed the SBS 2003 setup suggestion, and my internal domain name is called abc.local. I have also registered an Internet domain name I’m now ready to move from external POP3 accounts to an internally hosted Exchange mailboxes. The domain folks are ready to reconfigure the MX record, and they want to know the “name of the server” and it’s static IP address. If the server name is “bubba”, do I tell them to use or when creating the MX record? I know this is rather basic, but I have hunted all over and am still confused. Thanks!

A: First, understand that the Public DNS is totally handled by your ISP.  You don’t need to change anything on your SBS machine. The public dns name of the computer can be anything you want. 

By default you may already have the name “www”, but you should add a second name for mail, such as “mail” or “owa” because it is more typical for owa or pop3 users to access a mail server with “mail” rather than with “www”. MX records refer to an A record on the same dns server. 

You basically want an MX record pointing to, for example: and then an A record pointing to your public IP address. Or if you wanted to use ‘owa’ instead of ‘mail’, you could have them add two records such as:
MX record    = owa
A record       =  owa

The public DNS name you tell your ISP doesn’t have to have any correlation with your private names.

Another response: Set the domain to abc.local as discussed previously. When the installation is finished and you are going through the to do list you will run the connect internet wizard, at that time you will set the server, exchange, to and create a certificate for that name. The server would answer, internally, to and externally to Your external DNS servers should have a record for pointing to the external ip address of your router.

13 thoughts on “How to setup your MX record

  1. While an Mx record with a name like might be nice, it’s really not necessary. Because an Mx record requires an A record (as you rightly point out) as opposed to a cname, it’s just as easy to reuse an existing A record if it is spointing to the same IP address (rather than needing to provision an additional IP or change other records around). Mx records are pretty transparent to end users, so one can name it just about anythign (and I’ve seen a pretty creative variety).

    Creating a cname record for OWA for the end users isn’t a bad idea, but if it’s the same web server as www it’s really pointing to the same place (I know you knew that, the readers might not).

  2. Hi, I just thought that someone here might be able to help me as this MX record thing is entirely new to me. My problem is we have a domain already. And it is hosted with network solutions. We also have an email account with them that catches all. Now, recently we been receiving complaints from people sending us email as it keeps on bouncing back saying that our mail box is over quota. But when I check our POP3 mail via a web interface, the mail box is empty.

    So, in order to avoid this in the future, I would like to keep my domain with network solutions and move my email from them to our local isp. What do I need to know from our ISP for me to do it. I am saying this because, I can edit our DNS settings via a DNS Advanced Manager Control Panel that I have access to. All I want is a quide on what I need to get from our local ISP and I will do the change to my A record, MX record and CName record.

    Hope someone can help me out. Here is my email:

  3. Speaking of MX records, will exchange work on a SBS using a PPPoE connection on the WAN area NIC to the DSL modem or do I need to get a T1 connection with a true static IP address to my external NIC?

  4. I have a Windows 2000 DC with Exchange 2000 ( We are replacing the dc with a newer machine ( I thought that the ISP would have to be contacted so that the Mx record could be changed to reflect the new server. A co worker does not feel this is necessary. What is the general rule on this one?

  5. Quote:

    "Now, recently we been receiving complaints from people sending us email as it keeps on bouncing back saying that our mail box is over quota. But when I check our POP3 mail via a web interface, the mail box is empty."

    If what you described is correct, and the error message you are getting is correct, then here is my explanation/solution for your problem.

    I have seen few ISP’s do something weired (well not really). That is, they give a disk quota for your account and put your e-mail folder and your web site folder under that disk quota. So in other words, your quota or space given by your ISP is shared by your web site and your e-mail and may be other services like ftp.

    So if your web site is 20mb and your quota is 20mb, and someone sends you and email that is say 20kb, then you will get the error message, quota exceeded. Of course that is not the only case. Say you have used up only 5mb of your 20mb quota and someone sends you an e-mail that is 16mb. Most ISP’s should allow the quota to be "streached" a bit so that you can receive the e-mail even if it puts you over the quota, but that is not always the case.

    The best thing to do is call your ISP/ HOST and find out what is your overall available quota. Then find out what is the overall used space. Then find out the size of the e-mail you are trying to receive. Once you know those you should know where is the problem.



  6. I am hosting a domain name from my pc, using windoes XP Professional. I use domain registry. My Static IP is, and Domain name is Today, I just found out how to make my domain name my IP instead of forwarding to it, by putting my IP in the A record. I have Merak email server, and started an email domain at It will send, but not receive emails from the internet.

    If I get this correct, all I have to do is create a new A record with the host as mail and the points to as, and create an MX record with the host as mail and the goes to as mail, and then it should work?

    I have spent about 5 hours on this with a lot of heartache and headache, and it is just too confusing. I always thought that I had to get an MX record from my ISP, and don’t really understand most of the DNS and MX stuff. I’m a newbie, sorry.

  7. When I go to and check the mail test it says:

    Getting MX record for (from local DNS server, may be cached)… There is no MX record for! That’s bad.

    Checking for an A record… Got it!

    when I try the dns test, it says:

    MX FAIL MX Category ERROR: I couldn’t find any MX records for If you want to receive E-mail on this domain, you should have MX record(s). Without any MX records, mailservers should attempt to deliver mail to the A record for I can’t continue in a case like this, so I’m assuming you don’t receive mail on this domain.

    Mail FAIL Connect to mail servers ERROR: I could not find any mailservers for

    My A record is set with the host as "mail" and the points to as "" and my email record is set with the host as "mail" and the goes to as "mail" (all are without the quotation marks, I just pu the in to show what I typed in). Should any of them have the @ symbol instrat of mail? My help guide says "To create a new MX record for your domain; select the priority value and complete the Host Name, "Goes To” IP Address, and TTL Value fields; then click "Continue."Note: The "Host Name" should be defined as your domain name (i.e., "") or "@." (Entering "@" will automatically insert your domain name as the host name for the MX Record.) If the MX Record is for the domain "," the host name should be entered as "www."Do not enter "" as the host name."

  8. ok, here is my DNS setup

    A (Host)

    Host Points To TTL

    @ 3600

    mail 3600

    CNAMES (Aliases)

    Alias Points To TTL

    smtp @ 3600

    pop @ 3600

    imap @ 3600

    ftp @ 3600

    www @ 3600

    MX (Mail Exchangers)

    Priority Host Goes To TTL

    0 mail mail 3600

  9. I have six mx records. The first four work with our third party spam filtering program. What the spammers are doing is starting at the bottom of our mx records and using those to bypass the spam filtering program. Right now my remote users are set up with for both their pop/smtp settings using outlook. I like to remove the MX record fro and keep my first four mx records with the spam filtering program. If I get rid of the mx record, can I change the outlook configuration to just point to the Fixed IP that resolves with. That way their outlook uses the IP to connect to instead of the name? Should this work? Summary: Remove MX record that spammers are using, and use the fixed IP instead.


  10. Hi, you wrote your post four years ago and you still receiving questions…
    Here is mine: I help friends by managing their SBS 2003 STD (translation: I am not an expert in SBS or xchange).
    Because sometime their outgoing emails were rejected (because no match between the domain and the reverse DNS lookup) I told them to change ISP for one able to customize the reverse DNS.
    It’s done now but they have a new issue (quite serious): they are not able to receive emails anymore. But they can send emails without any issue.
    When you send an email to them you receive an error like
    “Diagnostic-Code: smtp; 550 5.1.1 :
    Recipient address rejected: User unknown in relay recipient table”
    The new ISP provided us two MX: one on their domain (level 20) and one on my domain (level 10).
    I tried to create the MX record in SBS (I followed the MS steps in Technet) but I must do something wrong because the issue is still there.
    May I kindly ask your advice please?

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