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MS Exchange Email: How do I locate the MX record?

Posted on 2009-05-08
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Last Modified: 2012-05-06
Bear with me, as I'm not very knowledgeable when it comes to email... At my office, we have an Exchange server for our email system. We also have a website where customers can send us email, but when they do it just fires an email off to an account on our network. We're about to change web hosts from our current company to another company, and I'm wondering if anything needs to be done in preparation.

As far as I can tell, we are completely self-sufficient and changing web hosts for our web site will not change anything, but I'm being asked questions by our new web host that I can't answer with confidence. The latest says "If [my company] is hosting its own email on an exchange server then a MX record exist with [our old web host] and that needs to stay intact."

At one point our web host did host our email as well, but that hasn't been the case for years. I've already checked to make sure that our mail is directed at us, as an external lookup yielded our mail server's external IP. Would our old web host have our MX record then, or would it be located on our server? How do I check, and is there a way to determine if I'm self-sufficient here so that I can answer outright that we no longer have any ties to our old web host?
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Question by:SysAdmin06
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by:Chris Dent
Chris Dent earned 150 total points
ID: 24336588

You can find out where your domain name is hosted by looking at your WhoIs record. Try popping your domain name in here:

http://www.geektools.com/whois.php

The name servers will be listed at the bottom. Or you can run this command which will tell you the Name Servers for your domain:

nslookup -q=ns yourdomain.com

Your MX Record will be held on those Name Servers. You can view the MX Record by running:

nslookup -q=mx yourdomain.com

You'll get misleading results if you have an internal Domain Name by the same name. If you do, add "4.2.2.4" onto the end of each of those commands. That will direct the request as a public DNS server belonging to Verizon. It'll give you a view of your domain as seen by the rest of the world.

Chris
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by:Stacy Spear
ID: 24336609
If your current mx record shows something like mail.yourcompany.com then when your hosts change, they need to put that in your MX record.

They should have been able to see that. That would make me wonder if we are about to make a mistake moving to them.
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by:gilget
ID: 24336621
hello there

its like this:

since you have your website on an external webhost, I assume that this one also has your dns pointing to it.
this means, that the registrar (where you have registered the webdomain) points to your webhosters DNS. That DNS then points http to their webhost and they have an MX record pointing to your exchange servers external IP.
all you have to do now.

1. go the the website where you have registered your domain and login, in the informations you see what DNS servers are  registered, you can also do a WHOIS from any website that has it.

2. if you have the webhosters DNS servers registered on your domain, then you will need to register the new DNS servers of your new webhoster.

3. if 2. was the case, then you will need to tell your new webhoster to make an MX record pointing to your exchange servers IP.

4. if 2. is not the case and you have your own DNS servers registered on your domain. then you have your own 2 DNS servers in your network that will respond to namequerys, but I guess that is not the case, is it?
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by:SysAdmin06
ID: 24336985
Great responses guys. Thanks.

Chris-Dent: Those commands were very helpful, and returned exactly what I needed to know.

darkstar3d: The whole thing is a mess, and I share your concerns.

gilget: I'm trying to comprehend what you're saying, but it's still a little over my head.
-1. I've done so, and it is in fact our old web hosts servers
-2. How do I do that?
-3. What information will they need from me, if any?
-4. You were right. N/A
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by:gilget
ID: 24337024
ok i will need some minutes to write you a full and simple advice, stay tuned.
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by:SysAdmin06
ID: 24337040
I appreciate that. Especially the "simple" part :D
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by:Chris Dent
ID: 24337042

2. It depends who you registered your domain with.

You can request a transfer between your current and new ISP if they registered it for you. Talk to your new ISP about it if you want them to take over, they should be able to tell you the process and all steps involved.

3. Depends a bit on the ISP.

Some will need a name for the mail server and nothing more. Others will need the name and the IP address. And finally they may simply give you a web interface and expect you to do it yourself.

Chris
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Shouldn't all users have the same email signature?

You wouldn't let your users design their own business cards, would you? So, why do you let them design their own email signatures? Think of the damage they could be doing to your brand reputation! Choose the easy way to manage set up and add email signatures for all users.

 
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gilget earned 350 total points
ID: 24337115
1. CALL your new webhost provider and ask them for theyr DNS server names.
2. TELL them to right now setup the DNS for your companies webomain (yourcompany.com).
3. Ask them if they offer SPAM filter services and mail queue services.
if they have this:
- they make the first MX pointing to their mailsystem
- they make their mailsystem to cleanup mails from SPAM and then send it to your exchange.
- they will setup a second MX record pointing to your mailservers IP directly (external IP not LAN IP)

4. after this has been setup by your new provider. then you will need to change the DNS on the webdomain registrar of your webdomain, pointing to the new DNS servers of your new webhost provider.

5. BEFORE ALL OF THIS, MAKE SURE THAT HTTP AND MAIL IS ALL SERVICES THAT YOU NEED. MAYBE YOU HAVE MORE STUFF CONFIGURED ON THAT DOMAIN I DONT KNOW ABOUT.
IF YOU DONT KNOW HOW TO LOOK THIS UP WITH A WHOIS, THEN ASK YOUR NEW WEBPROVIDER, THEY NORMALY CAN HELP WITH ALL OF THIS.

I AM WRITING UPPER CASE CAUSE I DONT WANT YOU TO LOOSE ANY SERVICES.

ALSO, it is possible that you can loose some mails while changing this, cause worldwide DNS update can take up to 48 hours.
so preferably do this on a weekend and inform anybody before.
you dont want to end up in a mess.

;)
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by:gilget
ID: 24337125
sorry for my bad english im a swiss guy-
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by:gilget
ID: 24337149
ah yes, your not realy gona loose mails cause they should end up either on the new or old mailsystem  queue within those 48 hours.
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by:Stacy Spear
ID: 24337171
Lots of native English speakers have bad English! Me included! :)
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by:Chris Dent
ID: 24337230

Mail has the potential to be lost if you change the system mail is delivered to. For example, say you delivered it your ISP, then relayed it to your own server. Then if you terminate the contact with them for mail delivery they mail actively reject the messages.

Otherwise mail would be delayed if the target mail system in the MX became unavailable. Even if that were the case, it wouldn't be lost, only delayed unless it remained unavailable for an extended period (typically a day or more).

It's not something to worry about if you currently deliver to a server on your own network and if you're not changing the IP address of the server, only duplicating the MX record with the new host.

Chris
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Author Comment

by:SysAdmin06
ID: 24337448
I think I've got what I need, guys. Great answers... straightforward and easy to understand, and your English is just fine, gilget.

Thanks for all of your help.
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Author Closing Comment

by:SysAdmin06
ID: 31579468
Just great tips overall. Fantastic job.
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