How to Edit MX Records in DNS
Perhaps you are moving from using your web server for email to a new service that offers advanced features such as Liquid Web’s Premium Business Email Hosting, or maybe you want your email address to better reflect the business you conduct with your inbox. Either way, when changing mail servers, you will find yourself editing MX records. Each time you send a message, these MX records help an email server figure out how to get your message where it needs to go. Once the message is ready to leave the server, it looks up the DNS record for the domain where your intended receiver checks their mail. By the end of this article, you will be able to edit your domain’s MX records in cPanel or Plesk.
This step is necessary whenever editing DNS entries such as the MX record. Before starting, you’ll want to make sure that the server you are editing the MX records with is the “name server.” The name server is the server responsible for letting browsers (and e-mail servers) know where your domain “lives” on the internet by providing the list of DNS records associated with the domain. DNS records provide information about domains to computers that need to interact with them to provide you with services. The key thing to note here is that you can only effectively edit the MX record at the name server for your domain. To look up your name server, you can use easyWhois. Once you get to the site, simply enter your domain and hit enter. Once the list of details loads, look for the “Name Server” lines. Usually, there is a ‘ns’ part with a number after it. That part after that tells you the server, and this is where you will log in to cPanel or Plesk. For a refresher on how to login to your cPanel or Plesk server, you can look here: Logging Into cPanel or Logging Into Plesk.
Editing Plesk MX Records
Part 1: Removing The Old Records
- Once logged into Plesk, click the “Websites & Domains” tab on the left-hand side.
- Find the section for the domain that you want to change an MX record for.
- If you see a bar with an arrow that points downward and reads “Show More” click that button, then click “DNS Settings,” otherwise just click “DNS Settings” in the section for your domain.
- Look at the “Record Type” column in the list, and find any entries that read “MX” (with a number after it). Click the checkbox on the left-hand side for each of these entries.
- Towards the top of the page select the “Remove” button.
- At the “Remove the selected DNS records?” dialogue box that appears, select “Yes.”
Part 2: Adding Your New MX Records
- Towards the top of the page click the “Add Record” button.
- Next to “Record Type” click the dropdown box, and select “MX”.
- Ensure that the “Mail domain” section shows everything that comes after the “@” symbol for your e-mail address here. Most of the time this blank should be left empty. However, if your e-mail address is less common such as firstname.lastname@example.org (instead of email@example.com), you’ll want to make sure ‘research’ appears in the blank at the left. The domain (example.com part in this example) is listed automatically.
- At the “Mail Exchange Server” blank, enter the entire mail server you are changing your MX record to point to (Example: mail.example.com).
- At the next section, “Specify the priority of the mail exchange server”, click the dropdown box and select “5.” Most of the time that should be perfectly adequate, however, if your new MX record has a number in the middle that does not match, you may change it from “5” to match the new record you wish to use.
- Click the “OK” button to proceed.
- You will now see a box at the top of the page that reads “The changes you made to DNS records are not saved yet. The changes are marked in the list of records. Click Update to apply the changes to the DNS zone. Click Revert to cancel the changes.”
- Click the button marked “Apply DNS Template.”
You have now set up your new MX record(s) for your domain in Plesk.
Editing cPanel MX Records
- Once logged into cPanel for the domain you wish to set the MX record for, find the “Domains” section and click “Zone Editor.”
- Click “Manage.”
- Look at the “Type” column and find the entries with “MX” under that section.
- Select “Edit” next to the first MX entry.
- Under the “Record” section, set the priority to match the number given in the MX entry you wish to add, then place the server name at the right side of your entry in the “Destination” blank.
- If you have a second (or third, etc.) MX record line to add, click the arrow next to the “Add Record” button, and select “Add MX Record.” then repeat step 5.
If you want to set up or change MX records for multiple domains, you can use WHM. For a guide, check out step 2 of our Knowledge Base article “cPanel – How to Change a Domain’s MX Record”.
- If you can spare 24-48 hours, it’s a great idea to reduce the TTL (Time To Live) for each MX record already in place BEFORE adjusting the other values for the MX record. These are given in seconds, and you’ll want to make sure they’re reasonably low (around 300 is a good value) to ensure that when you are ready to make your MX record changes they will spread throughout the internet without a long delay. After changing these TTL values, allow 24-48 hours before completing your final MX record changes.
- Most of the time you will have the new mail server’s “hostname” (the server address in text form), however, if you have only an IP address see this article for a procedure that will show you what to do before following the previous steps in this guide.
- For a more detailed look at DNS records in general, you can check out What is DNS.
For instructions on how to lookup an MX record and what it looks like, see Understanding MX Records.
This guide is not intended to be comprehensive, and if you need more detail about what we’ve gone over, this article is a great resource.
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About the Author: C. Smith
Craig is a Linux Server Administrator at Liquid Web San Antonio. Previously he's been a Network Operations Technician, and an IT Systems Technician, and is a US Army veteran. He's been breaking and fixing computers since the age of 10, and is always at home with a loud, clack-y keyboard under his fingers! As an IT Security advocate, casual gamer, and huge Linux nerd, Craig believes that IT is for everyone, and is committed to helping folks find technology solutions that help them accomplish amazing things in their professional and personal lives.
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