Email is an essential form of personal and professional communication for many people. A huge part of ensuring that these communications reach the right destination is a DNS record. But what type of DNS record is used for email servers?
There are different types of DNS records, each with their own important roles. Read on as we learn more about them, as well as the record that ensures that our emails arrive at the right destination.
📚 Table of contents:
- What is an email server?
- What is a DNS server?
- What is a DNS record?
- What type of DNS record is used for email servers?
What is an email server?
Before we look at the question of what type of DNS record is used for email servers, we must first understand what email servers are.
The easiest way to think of email servers is to view them as a hub. This hub handles all your incoming and outgoing messages.
When you send an email to your colleague or friend, the email doesn’t directly land in their inbox. Instead, it first travels from your email server through a series of other servers. It will eventually land in your colleague or friend’s email server.
Once it reaches this destination, your recipient can then access the message from their inbox.
In a nutshell, email servers are like digital postmen since they ensure that messages are sent to the right destinations. These servers are responsible for sending 347.3 billion emails per day, making them some of the most widely used components of the internet’s infrastructure .
Different types of email servers
There are four main types of email servers to understand before we can answer the question of what type of DNS record is used for email servers. Let’s now take a closer look at the role that each of them plays.
1. SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) Server
The SMTP’s primary role is to handle outgoing emails. Without this server, you can’t send any emails.
So, when you compose an email and click “Send,” your email application (e.g., Gmail) first connects to the SMTP server. After that, the server will help transfer the email content through the different servers and eventually into the recipient’s email server.
2. POP3 (Post Office Protocol3) Server
The “3” in the name refers to the fact that this is the third version of the POP server.
In a nutshell, you can think of your POP3 server as a mailbox that stores your incoming emails.
So, when you open your email client and head to the inbox to check for new emails, your email client connects to the POP3 server to download your emails. Once the emails have been downloaded, they are deleted from the POP3 server and live only on the IMAP server.
3. IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol) Server
The IMAP server is similar to the POP3 server because they both handle incoming emails. However, the difference with IMAP is that your messages are not deleted from the server even after they are downloaded.
So, we can say that a POP3 server works well for someone who uses one device to access their emails. On the other hand, an IMAP server is ideal for someone who wants to access their emails from multiple devices.
What is a DNS server?
Now that we’re clear on what email servers are and the different types that we use, we have to dive deeper into DNS servers. This will bring us a step closer to answering the question of what type of DNS record is used for email servers?
DNS is short for Domain Name System. A DNS server helps to translate website names that we type in our web browsers into IP addresses. It does this because computers and servers understand IP addresses much better than words.
For example, if you want to access a website, you might type “thewebsite.com” into your browser. Your DNS server will then translate this into an IP address (e.g., 192.168.0.0) which is computer-readable so that you can access this website.
This means that without DNS servers, we’d have to remember and use these complex numbers to access a website instead of simply using a website’s domain name.
Different types of DNS servers
There are mainly three different types of DNS servers. Below, we’ll discuss the fundamental differences between all of them.
1. Primary servers
Every online user who owns a domain has a primary server. This is the main authoritative nameserver that knows all about your website. It keeps essential information like your site’s IP address.
If there are any changes to a website’s details, like its address changes, those details are always made on the primary server first. This way, all the other servers that help with the DNS service can get the most up-to-date information about that website.
So, when an online user wants to access your website, their recursive resolver first needs to get your IP address from the primary server.
2. Secondary servers
Secondary servers are like helpful friends for the primary servers. They keep a duplicate of all the information found in the primary server about a website, just in case the main server stops working or is not available for whatever reason.
This means that when the primary server stops working or has a problem, the secondary server will step in, respond to DNS queries, and ensure that everything continues to run smoothly.
3. Caching servers
Caching servers don’t have all the original information about websites. However, they keep a record of information that people recently looked for.
So, when a user asks about a website, these servers quickly check their memory to see if they already know the answer. If they do, they tell them right away without consulting with the primary or secondary servers. If they don’t, they consult with the primary and secondary servers.
These servers are great for smaller networks because they make finding websites faster and improve the overall network performance.
However, they are not the best choice if you need the most accurate and up-to-date information about websites. This is because they only remember things for a short time and might give you old or wrong information.
To conclude, DNS servers hold important information about IP addresses, domain names, hosting, and other registration information regarding domains. There are instructions that are stored in the DNS record to help us access all this information.
What is a DNS record?
The final thing we need to understand before answering the question of what type of DNS record is used for email servers is what DNS records actually are.
DNS records are like written instructions for computers that connect with servers. These instructions tell them what to do and where to go on the internet.
These records store important information. Anything regarding IP addresses and the corresponding websites, emails, servers, and so much more, you’ll find it here. DNS records even have information about rules to stop spam.
DNS records are automatically created when you register your domain. However, if you’d like to change a few settings, you can do so manually. Your web host can provide instructions for doing this.
You can look at DNS records for any website using DNS Lookup:
What type of DNS record is used for email servers?
So, what type of DNS record is used for email servers?
MX (Mail Exchange) records are the DNS records used to store information about email servers.
The MX record tracks which servers are in charge of receiving emails for a particular website. It also shows the path for the emails sent to that website.
MX records are automatically configured to the right settings, so most users never have to worry about them. However, you can learn how to create MX records manually if you’re concerned about deliverability or other related issues.
How exactly does the MX record work?
When someone sends you an email, their email server first looks up the MX record for your domain to find out where to deliver the email. The MX record points to the specific email server responsible for handling your incoming emails.
For example, if your email address is email@example.com, the sender’s email server checks the MX record for “domainwheel.com” to see which email server should receive the message.
Once the MX record provides the information, the sender’s email server delivers the email to your email server.
Final thoughts on what type of DNS record is used for email servers 🏁
Understanding the fundamental role of DNS records in handling email server communications is important. After all, this is what makes it possible for us to send and receive as many emails as we do per day.
The DNS record that plays a role in email server functionality is the MX record. MX records point to the specific email server responsible for receiving emails on behalf of a domain.
So, when someone sends an email to an address within a domain, the sending server consults the domain’s DNS records to find the MX record. Once located, the MX record provides the address of the email server, directing the message to its destination.
The connection between email servers and DNS records is crucial for ensuring emails are sent and received without problems. Understanding MX records, SMTP, POP3, and IMAP servers, as well as DNS records, helps us see how this all works together.
We use email every day for our businesses. But there are more components that help us create successful businesses. 👨🎓
To learn more about them, you can read our guides on how to start an online business with no money and what you need to know about running a business from home.