What are MX records?

Chris Wright
Published: 5 February 2023Last updated: 12 October 2023

An MX (Mail Exchange) record is a type of DNS record that specifies the mail server responsible for accepting email messages on behalf of a domain. It's used to route email messages to the correct server and ensure that they are delivered to the right recipient. 

How do MX records work?

When an email message is sent to an email address at a specific domain, the recipient's mail server looks up the MX records for that domain to determine the mail server responsible for accepting email for that domain. The email is then sent to that mail server, which delivers it to the correct recipient. 

MX records are used to ensure that email messages are delivered to the correct mail server and that they reach their intended recipients. They are important for the proper functioning of email services and are necessary for any domain that wants to receive email. 

A domain can have multiple MX records, each with a different priority. The priority is specified in the MX record, with lower numbers indicating higher priority. If the highest-priority mail server is not available, the email is delivered to the next-highest-priority server, and so on. This allows for email delivery to be maintained even if one of the mail servers is down. 

If you are using our email services, then the MX record that you would need to use is ‘mx.stackmail.com’. If your DNS is handled through 20i, this MX record will be added to your DNS zone by default. 

MX records FAQs 

Do you need an MX record to send email? 

No, an MX record is not required to send email. It is only necessary for receiving emails. Some recipient email servers may reject emails from domain names with no MX record due to spam filter settings. 

Where should my MX record point to? 

Your MX record should point to the hostname of the mail server responsible for accepting email for your domain. 

Can an MX record be an IP address? 

No, an MX record must be a hostname and cannot be an IP address. 

Is an MX record a DNS record? 

Yes, an MX record is a type of DNS (Domain Name System) record. More information in our guide to DNS records

What happens if there is no MX record? 

If there is no MX record for a domain, email servers will not know where to deliver email for that domain, and email sent to that domain may be bounced or rejected. 

How do I fix ‘no MX record found’ for domain? 

To fix "no MX record found for domain" issue, you need to create an MX record for your domain pointing to the correct mail server hostname, and ensure it is properly configured to receive email. 

What is the difference between MX and SPF records? 

MX (Mail Exchange) records specify the mail server responsible for accepting email messages on behalf of a domain, while SPF (Sender Policy Framework) records are used to prevent email spoofing by specifying which mail servers are authorised to send email on behalf of a domain.