It Starts with A Domain
Having a professional email address hosted on your own domain is crucial for businesses and organizations. It not only lends credibility to your organization but also unifies the members of your team with email addresses at a single domain. What makes this possible is email hosting, a service that provides your users with email addresses at your domain name and allows your users to send and receive emails both internally and externally. This article will take a closer look at domain name registrations, DNS, MX records, and how they all relate to email hosting.
Domain Name Registration
The first step in setting up email hosting is registering a domain name for your business. The domain name registration is most associated with your website’s address on the internet, for example yourdomain.com. But it is also an important part of your email and is used in all the email addresses at your domain like email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. Registering a domain name involves choosing a unique name and paying a registration fee to a domain registrar. Once registered, the domain name is yours for the duration of the registration period (usually one year) and can be renewed thereafter.
You have a lot of options when it comes to registering a domain name. One of the services we recommend is iwantmyname with over 400 domain extensions (.com, .net, .coffee etc). iwantmyname aims to simplify the process of registering or transferring domain names and offers recommendations for web site services and apps that you can use with your domain.
DNS (Domain Name System)
The Domain Name System (DNS) is a system used to translate domain names, which are easy for humans to read and remember, into IP addresses, which computers use to identify each other on the internet. When you set up email hosting, you’ll need to configure your DNS settings to ensure that emails sent to your domain end up in the right place. Specifically, MX records are responsible for routing incoming emails to the server hosting your mailboxes. In addition, there are several other TXT records (SPF, DKIM and DMARC) in the DNS that can be used to authenticate your messages and improve delivery rates for the messages you are sending.
MX (Mail Exchange) Records
MX Records are a type of DNS record. They direct a domain’s incoming emails to the servers hosting the domain’s mailboxes. When an email is sent to your domain, the sender’s server looks up your domain’s MX records to see where to deliver the email. Having an incorrect MX record will cause incoming messages to bounce back to the sender and fail to reach your recipients.
To set up email hosting on your domain, you’ll need to add MX Records that point to your email hosting provider. This process varies depending on your domain registrar and email hosting provider, but generally involves logging into your domain registrar’s DNS management interface and adding new MX Records with values provided by your email hosting provider. There are also DNS providers like Cloudflare who specialize in providing fast and easy to use DNS management services.
TXT Records for Sender Authentication
Your email host will also provide you with TXT records for SPF, DKIM signing, and DMARC. SPF (Sender Policy Framework) is an authentication technology that can be used by recipient servers to help control spam, minimize message spoofing and generally verify the authenticity of messages being sent using your domain and mail server. DKIM (Domain Keys Identified Mail) creates a digital signature in the message headers that is used to help verify the identity of an email sender. A DKIM signed message has a digital signature that verifies the message originated from the domain that is claiming to send the message. Domain-based Message Authentication Reporting and Conformance (DMARC) instructs a receiving email server how to handle messages after SPF and DKIM checks have been performed. A domain’s DMARC policy can instruct mail servers to quarantine emails that fail SPF and/or DKIM, to reject failed emails, or to deliver them.
Importance of Proper Configuration
It is imperative that your MX and related TXT records are properly configured in your domain’s DNS. As mentioned earlier, misconfigured MX records will lead to issues like emails not being delivered. Incorrect or missing SPF, DKIM and DMARC TXT records may result in your sent messages being marked as spam, delayed or completely blocked. Therefore, it’s important to follow your email hosting provider’s instructions carefully and verify your settings after configuration.
If you are making changes to your DNS, there are some useful web-based DNS lookup tools that allow you to check your DNS entries. One such tool is MXToolbox which allows you to easily switch between different lookups for your domain and monitor the health of your domain and the service(s) you are using for your email hosting.
Finding the right email hosting provider can certainly help you through the process of setting up email for your domain. The technical aspect of setting up email hosting for your own domain might seem a bit daunting, but with a basic understanding of domain name registrations, DNS, MX and TXT records, it can be manageable. Remember, the effort is well worth it—having email addresses at your own domain can significantly enhance your organization’s credibility and professionalism.