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DNS MX record

(also MX record, mail exchange record)

DNS MX record definition

A DNS MX record is a type of DNS record that specifies the mail servers responsible for receiving incoming email messages. In other words, a DNS MX record points to the IP addresses of a specific mail server’s domain so that the emails reach the appropriate mail server. A DNS MX record can also differentiate email and web servers, making it useful for people who host their emails or lease emails. A DNS MX record specifies how emails are supposed to be routed. It functions in accordance with SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol), which is the standard email protocol that virtually all emails use. Also, a DNS MX record always needs to point to a domain for the transfers to be successful.

See also: mail exchange record, web server security

The DNS MX record process

  • An email user writes an email, clicks “send,” and the email client forwards the email to a server.
  • The sending MTA (message transfer agent) sends a DNS request so that it can identify the DNS MX record.
  • The DNS MX record specifies which email server is the appropriate destination for the email.
  • The sending MTA establishes an SMTP connection with the email server that was specified.
  • The email is delivered to the recipient.