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Similarly to this question, I have a client with a site hosted on HostGator which I wish to move to my own Linode. I know enough to navigate normal DNS settings, and assumed that simply changing the main A record (as directed in the answer to the above linked question) would allow me to change the web server without altering the MX records, thus maintaining HostGator as the email server.

I was wrong. HostGator's DNS is completely, stupidly roundabout and backwards. The MX record points to mail.example.com. mail.example.com is a CNAME to example.com. example.com is a the only A record in the entire place. So, changing example.com to point to my server work, but it breaks all the MX handling.

So, I tried the obvious: changing mail.example.com into an A record and pointing it at the original IP address specified in the A record for example.com. No dice. Nothing.

Looking deeper, I found that they are doing your typical landing website with all their MX records for all their mail servers, pointed to by an SPF setting. In all honesty, I never thought anyone with technical knowledge necessary to do so would knowingly create such a roundabout setup. It would be much simpler if even just the client MX record pointed somewhere besides back at the web server, but I guess that would make it too easy to do anything outside of their system.

Anyone have any ideas, or will I be forced to talk to some entirely unknowledgeable and anti-helpful (though well intended) support personnel?

Currently on the domain, johnchapmanguitarist.com:

johnchapmanguitarist.com.           600    IN    A        173.230.150.149
localhost.johnchapmanguitarist.com. 600    IN    A        127.0.0.1
mail.johnchapmanguitarist.com.      600    IN    A        67.18.172.226
www.johnchapmanguitarist.com.       600    IN    CNAME    johnchapmanguitarist.com
ftp.johnchapmanguitarist.com.       600    IN    CNAME    johnchapmanguitarist.com
johnchapmanguitarist.com.           600    IN    TXT      "v=spf1 ip4:67.18.172.226 a mx include:websitewelcome.com ~all"

With one MX record, mail.johnchapmanguitarist.com priority:0.

Previously:

johnchapmanguitarist.com.           600    IN    A        67.18.172.226
localhost.johnchapmanguitarist.com. 600    IN    A        127.0.0.1
mail.johnchapmanguitarist.com.      600    IN    CNAME    johnchapmanguitarist.com
www.johnchapmanguitarist.com.       600    IN    CNAME    johnchapmanguitarist.com
ftp.johnchapmanguitarist.com.       600    IN    CNAME    johnchapmanguitarist.com
johnchapmanguitarist.com.           600    IN    TXT      "v=spf1 a mx include:websitewelcome.com ~all"

With the same MX record.

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Your explanation of how everything is setup is... confusing. Can you just give us the real domain to examine it for ourselves? –  womble Aug 28 '11 at 7:22
    
Sure, and I'll include the current and previous DNS configurations just for grins. It's probably confusing because I'm confused about it. –  Dakota Aug 28 '11 at 7:25

2 Answers 2

It looks like 67.18.172.226 is no longer answering on port 25 (SMTP) which is the issue. Is there still a current HostGator account? It also does does not answer to port 80 (web/HTTP) nor respond to ICMP. Indications are high that the host has been decommissioned. Is it suppose to be?

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The HostGator account is entirely unchanged, except for the changes to the DNS. Email became unresponsive at the same time the original DNS change was made. I just switched the DNS back to what it was before I made ANY changes, so I'll see if that returns functionality. Edit: Looks like that IP is non-functional. Using HostGator's "Reset to default" functionality, we'll see if that works. –  Dakota Aug 29 '11 at 2:19

It appears that the original DNS information I had before making any modifications is now incorrect. Resetting the zone to "default" and then using the supplied (different) IP for mail worked.

One wonders if they change their customers' DNS entries without notifying...

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