MX record

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A mail exchanger record (MX record) is a type of resource record in the Domain Name System that specifies a mail server responsible for accepting email messages on behalf of a recipient's domain and a preference value used to prioritize mail delivery if multiple mail servers are available. The set of MX records of a domain name specifies how email should be routed with the Simple Mail Transfer Protocol.

Contents

Overview

Resource records are the basic information elements of the Domain Name System (DNS). They are distinguished by a type identification (A, MX, NS, etc.) and the DNS class (Internet, CHAOS, etc.), and have a validity period (time-to-live) assigned after which the information must be refreshed from an authoritative name server. Resource records are organized within the DNS based to their name field, which is a fully qualified domain name (FQDN) of a node in the DNS tree. In the case of an MX record, this specifies the domain name of a mail recipient's email address, i.e. the portion after the @ symbol that delimits the recipient's account name.

The characteristic payload information of an MX record is the fully qualified domain name of a mail host and a preference value. The host name must map directly to one or more address record (A, or AAAA) in the DNS, and must not point to any CNAME records.[1]

When an e-mail message is sent through the Internet, the sending mail transfer agent queries the Domain Name System for MX records of each recipient's domain name. This query returns a list of host names of mail exchange servers accepting incoming mail for that domain and their preferences. The sending agent then attempts to establish an SMTP connection to one of these servers, starting with the one with the smallest preference number, delivering the message to the first server with which a connection can be made. If no MX records were present, the server falls back to A, that is to say, it makes a request for the A record of the same domain.

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