Email spam is a growing problem that affects more than just the individual users, businesses and organizations.
Spam is bad for email outreach campaigns, and it slows the email delivery as well. To aid from this problem we have DNS MX records that are widely used in all types of businesses to improve email deliverability.
But, because we don’t use the MX record every day, we usually lose track of its purpose and methodology. In the blog post that follows, we will define MX records and walk you through adding them.

A DNS MX record helps tell providers where your email should be routed to. Without this critical information, you won’t receive emails as they have no way in your inbox.
Email servers use MX DNS records, that stand for mail exchanger, to decide where to distribute messages.
An MX record in DNS specifies the SMTP (the standard protocol for all email)  path that email messages should follow and directs emails to a certain mail server. Much like CNAME records, an MX record should always point towards another domain.

Using an MX record in the DNS, determines which mail server to send to. It always points to another domain and tells the email how to move on in accordance with standards.

If your domain has more than one MX record, the mailer must choose which one to use. The preferred field in MX records is controlled by priority.

When establishing an MX record, a DNS hosting provider normally wants you to enter the preference number. When you create an MX record with the majority of DNS hosting providers, you must enter the preference number.

There are two methods for determining the priority: numbering in accordance with the priority and, for other systems, selecting Low, Medium , or High.

For priority or preference, any value is acceptable if you only have one MX record.

How is an email delivered to the inbox?

DNS is a pointer system that translates the domain name into the IP address, controlling the server at the end user will arrive at when they type a particular domain name like www.example.com 

Following this, a process known as DNS resolution occurs in which the preferred website is displayed in the browser and the relevant DNS server is asked to translate the domain name to its IP address, such as 32.912.568

DNS is always active in the background. When any domain name query is made by any browser a response from the DNS server is always required. To make the internet more user friendly every IP address is given a domain name as it is easy to remember.
So, you can call DNS as a phone book directory of the internet. DNS coordinates the directory of domain names and translates them into IP addresses.
This is an important function because an IP address identifies any computer connected to the internet.

DNS server query flowchart

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What steps are involved in an MX record query?

The process of querying an MX record is as follows: The message transfer agent (MTA) software sends a DNS query to identify the mail servers for the email recipients.
The MTA establishes an SMTP connection with the email servers and starts with the prioritized domains.
Example :

MX lookup

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What exactly is the Sender Policy Framework (SPF)?

Let’s understand the Sender Policy Framework (SPF) in detail.

A technical approach for avoiding the forging of sender addresses is laid out in the Sender Policy Framework (SPF), an open standard.
To help close the loopholes in the email delivery system SPF was created in 2003 to restrict spammers from sealing email addresses in order to send emails in bulk without the recipient’s permission.
A list of servers authorized to send email on behalf of a domain called a DNS record was used to stop the spamming practice.
In the simplest case, the record example.net. TXT “v=spf1 a:pluto.example.com-all” indicates that mail can only be sent to example.net from the server pluto.example.com. This means that bob@example.com must use the pluto.example.com server to send email; otherwise, the recipient’s mail server may check the SPF record and block it as forged mail.

Frequently Asked Questions

What exactly are MX (Mail eXchanger) records and how do they function?

MX Records, also known as Mail Exchange records, are DNS records that are required for email delivery to any address. In essence, the MX record exists to allow anyone to understand which server your email should be delivered to and where emails sent to your domain should be routed. You will not receive email unless your MX records are properly configured.

What constitutes an MX record?

Any MX record is divided into two sections. The number ‘0’ represents the server’s priority. The higher the priority for that domain, the lower the number. The actual address is determined by the company that hosts your email account.

What if I modify my MX records?

When you change your MX records, you are changing not only the address of your email, but also the location where the mail will be directed in order to be delivered.