Understanding the Importance of MX Record in DNS

 

In today’s world, almost every organization has a website and owns a domain name. A company’s online presence would not be complete without effective communication. In general, all the companies use an online mail system for communication — managed by the “mail exchange” record in DNS. This means that the MX records are responsible for managing mail transmission in DNS. If required, you can verify your MX record simply by using an online MX record lookup tool. 

The users cannot send and receive emails from the other end-user without the DNS MX record. 

Do you know “what the algorithm used to send and receive emails and how to check which server is used to send and receive emails?” Unfortunately, many Internet users are unaware of the significance and use of MX records. 

Let’s discuss MX records and how to use MX record lookup tools. Take into account that this article will focus on the following basic concepts:

  • What is a DNS MX record for example?
  • How does the DNS MX record works?
  • How to Check an MX Record?

What is a DNS MX record, for example?

The DNS ‘mail exchange’ (MX) record is used to direct email to a particular mail server. MX records indicate how email messages should be routed by Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP, the standard protocol for email). The MX record must always point to another domain, as CNAME records do.

Example of an MX record:

example.com record type: priority: value: TTL
@ MX 10 mailhost1.example.com 45000
@ MX 20 mailhost2.example.com 45000

In these MX records, the ‘priority’ numbers before the domains indicate the preference; the lower ‘priority’ value is preferred. 

Because 10 is lower than 20, the server will always attempt mailhost1 first. If a message is not sent, the server defaults to mailhost2.0.

In addition, the email service could configure this MX record in such a way that both servers receive the same amount of mail and have equal priority:

example.com record type: priority: value: TTL
@ MX 10 mailhost1.example.com 45000
@ MX 10 mailhost2.example.com 45000

This configuration enables the email provider to balance the load between the two servers equally.

How does the DNS MX Record Works?

To understand the DNS MX record, let’s examine all the steps an outgoing mail server must take to send an email to domain.com.

1. Using the outgoing email server, a user attempts to send an email to Maria with the address maria@domain.com.

2. An outgoing mail server will see the domain name, in this case, domain.com, and query it to determine the exact location of the domain’s nameservers.

3. The sender requires a DNS MX record to determine where the email should be sent. Therefore, it queries the nameservers of domain.com (for example, ns1.domain.com, ns2.domain.com, Etc.) to locate the MX records.

4. The domain.com website responds with one or more MX records specifying which servers can receive an email for the domain.com website (for example, emailone.domain.com, emailtwo.domain.com, Etc.).

5. Senders receive the MX records, identify the host or hosts responsible for receiving emails, and make a new query for A or AAAA records to obtain the server’s IP address.

6. Once the IP address is obtained, the email can be sent to maria@domain.com.

How to Check an MX Record?

Checking your MX record can be accomplished either online or locally on your device. There are some advantages to checking MX records but also some drawbacks. 

Online MX Tool

An online MX record lookup tool is the most convenient way to verify your DNS MX record. To perform a DNS MX record lookup on the Internet, you simply need to search for it. 

You only need to enter the domain name you wish to check the DNS MX records for once you have entered the lookup tool. Within seconds, the results will be displayed automatically. 

Take into account that various tools are available as Chrome extensions for a quick DNS record lookup. Using the DNS lookup extension, you can effortlessly determine the MX record of your website. 

Checking MX Records on Windows

The nslookup command can be used to locate MX records on Windows operating systems. Moreover, you can specify the DNS server you wish to use with the command. In the following, we will provide instructions on how to utilize nslookup on your Windows device.

nslookup > set q=mx > myserver.com

As an example, if you wish to use a specific DNS resolver, you would enter the following command:

nslookup > set q=mx > server 10.121.191.1 > myserver.com

Conclusion

In conclusion, understanding the significance of DNS MX records is crucial for efficient email communication within organizations. MX records play a pivotal role in directing email traffic to the appropriate mail servers, ensuring smooth transmission through the SMTP protocol. By prioritizing server preferences and balancing loads, MX records optimize email delivery. Utilizing online MX record lookup tools or local commands like nslookup on Windows facilitates the verification of MX records, empowering organizations to maintain effective email systems and streamline communication processes.

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