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DNS vs Smart Host for Exchange

Posted on 2009-04-06
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Last Modified: 2012-05-06
If our new ISP is not able to provide an SMTP smart host for Exchange, are there any real downsides to switching to using DNS and delivery mail directly?  Any major advantages?

Also, what do I need to do to swtich from smart host to DNS?  We're running Exchange 2003 on SBS 2003 (not R2).
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Question by:I_play_with_DNA
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zelron22 earned 1000 total points
ID: 24081596
In the Exchange administrator, under the server, in protocols, get the properties of the default smtp virtual server.  In the Delivery tab, click on Advanced and clear the smarthost.  As long as your DNS server is set up with a forwarder or the root hints, that should do it (you might need to restart the SMTP virtual server).

The big advantage to having an offsite smarthost is if they are also doing AV scanning or filtering so that in the event your server gets compromised, you are less likely to get blacklisted.

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by:QTH
ID: 24081636
The major advantage of using Smart Host will be security.  Your Exchange server will not be directly exposed to the public domain.  You can leave the Exchange server inside your LAN and expose only the Smart Host port 25 (SMTP) to the outside world.  In this case, if anyone tries to hack your server or perform a DoS attack on your Smart Host, it will not take down your Exchange server.
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by:I_play_with_DNA
ID: 24082249
@QTH

Why would I have to open anything other than port 25 on the Exchange server if I'm using DNS instead of a smart host?  Can't the Exchange server still stay on the LAN with only port 25 open to that box?
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by:Mestha
Mestha earned 1000 total points
ID: 24082759
Using a smart host for outbound email does nothing for your security. I think the poster above is referring to an inbound server, which I would refer to as a SMTP gateway, not a smart host.

The only reason to use a smart host for outbound email is to ensure that your email gets delivered. If you cannot get a reverse DNS record set, you are not on a static IP address or your ISP has got blacklisted, using a smart host can often be the only way to get email delivered.

Simon.
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Author Comment

by:I_play_with_DNA
ID: 24083177
@Mestha

I, of course, have port 25 open to the mail server to allow inbound e-mail.  That's why the comment above confused me.

And the reasons you listed are why I would like to use the ISPs SMTP server to relay as opposed to DNS (as I mentioned in another related Q that you just posted in as well).
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Expert Comment

by:QTH
ID: 24110822
Gents, my apology.  You're right that I'm talking about inbound SMTP security.  My recommendation is about not allowing direct inbound SMTP to your email server.
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