Mail Exchange Record

What Does Mail Exchange Record Mean?

A mail exchange record (MX record) is a resource record or settings within the Domain Name System (DNS) that redirects email to a specified mail server that accepts email on behalf of a domain or users. Within an MX record you can set routing priorities using preference values for which mail server will be used if there are multiple servers.


Techopedia Explains Mail Exchange Record

Mail exchange records and other types of resource records are the basic information elements of the DNS and are differentiated through type identification like MX, NS, A, etc., together with a DNS class. These records have a specific validity period before the information within them must be refreshed by an authoritative name server.

In its simplest form, a domain may have a single mail server, so when a mail transfer agent (MTA) queries the MX records for for a mail server and the DNS replies with only one mail server,, even with a large preference number like 60, the MTA will select this single mail server for email delivery. In this case, it would not matter what the preference number is because there is only a single mail server.


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Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…