What is an MX record?

Mail Exchange (MX) records are DNS records that are necessary for delivering email to your address.

In simple DNS terms, an MX record is used to tell the world which mail servers accept incoming mail for your domain and where emails sent to your domain should be routed to. If your MX records are not pointed to the correct location, you will not receive email.

DreamHost does not offer email only hosting. To host email at DreamHost, you must purchase a website hosting plan. Only then can you set up email on the domain.

Most DreamHost customers host their website and mail service at DreamHost. After an email address is added, all the required mail-related DNS records are created automatically.

You can also switch a domain's mail service between DreamHost, Gmail / Google Apps, or somewhere else entirely.

Changing your MX records only points where new email is sent and does not migrate old email to the new email hosting company. View the Transferring Emails article for instructions on how to back up your old emails first.

Example of an MX record

MX records consist of two parts: the priority and the domain name. For example:

0 mail.EXAMPLE.com
  • The ‘0’ is the priority.
  • The lower the number means a higher priority.
  • The ‘mail.EXAMPLE.com’ is the mail server to which it connects.
  • Outgoing email servers connect to the MX servers in order of priority.
  • If you use more than one MX record and both have the same priority, it picks one at random. (This in effect load balances the connections.)

Who controls my MX records?

Your MX records are controlled at the company where your Nameservers are pointed. If your domain is using DreamHost's nameservers (you can check this at http://whoisweb.dreamhost.com), then all DNS changes (including custom MX records) are made in your DreamHost panel.

If your domain is not using DreamHost's nameservers, all DNS changes (including custom MX records) must be done at the company that hosts your nameservers. If you want to use regular DreamHost-hosted mail service with a domain using non-DreamHost nameservers, you can set up custom mail DNS records at your outside DNS provider using the mail DNS information from your DreamHost panel. See the following article for details on how to find these records.

See also

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