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I have an email server (mail) that currently hosts one domain The server is behind NAT and I have split-dns configured on the LAN.

The time has come to host additional domains on the same email server and after many hours of googling I have read conflicting information on how to create the public (external) and internal DNS records. There seems to be two approaches to configuring the MX and A records which I will demonstrate below.


External DNS for      7200 MX 10 3600 A  213.xx.xx.xx

External DNS for      7200 MX 10 3600 A  213.xx.xx.xx

In the first approach the MX record for points to the first domain, e.g.

This seems to be how email hosting companies like Google Apps and ISPs work.

The problem with this method for my situation is that I don't want emails from to show that they originate from The "solution" to this would be that I purchase a third domain let's say which would be used as the default (or first) domain for the email server.


External DNS for      7200 MX 10 3600 A  213.xx.xx.xx

External DNS for      7200 MX 10 3600 A  213.xx.xx.xx

In the second approach the MX record for the second domain points to its own domain, e.g.

What I'm asking for is have I understood the configuration of multiple domains hosted on a single server and is there a best practice or advice on which approach I should implement in my own environment.

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

Both approaches are valid, do know that this record will not show as the originating address. When you send an email to one of your configured addresses, the sending MTA will look up the MX record configured for your domain. It will get the IP from that domain and it will open an SMTP session with your SMTP server (or one of your SMTP servers if you have configured more than one).

Even without an MX record it will work, because then the MTA just looks up the A record for your domain. (providing your A record points to your SMTP server of course)

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thanks for your explanation. Are there any advantages or disadvantages of either approach? – joshu May 1 '12 at 21:11
Well the better approach is to use an MX record, the reason for this is that it might be you want to split your mail server from your webserver for example. Then you can configure MX records for multiple mail servers while your A record still points at the correct webserver. – Lucas Kauffman May 1 '12 at 21:13
Just so I've understood when you say "an MX record" you are referring to approach 1, right? ;) – joshu May 1 '12 at 21:18
Actually to both approaches :p. An MX record is configured to point to a mailserver for a domain. In the end it just goes looking for an IP and connects to that IP, it doesn't care about what MX record is configured as long as the A record that goes with the MX record (so and ) point to an IP. – Lucas Kauffman May 1 '12 at 21:25
Cool I understand. One final thing. I might have overlooked this in my question, but for approach 2 I would need to add a new zone for, yes (not necessary in approach 1)? – joshu May 1 '12 at 21:34

Both approaches are perfectly valid. Approach 1 is probably better if you would like to use TLS later on.

By the way, the mail exchanger record doesn't show where mails originate but where they will be sent to.

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You mentioned TLS. Are you referring to webmail via SSL? If so then yes that is already configured for the first domain. Regarding the origin of the mail won't the headers contain if I use approach 1? – joshu May 1 '12 at 21:08
@yonatan No, the received header only contains mailservers that are passed, the content is their IP and the reverse dns of that IP, not the MX record. – Lucas Kauffman May 1 '12 at 21:13
No, I'm referring to encrypted SMTP. I'm not sure if this is a problem, but when you use this, you typically have one certificate installed (e.g. containing the common name If a server connects to and is presented with the certificate, this might cause a problem. As for the mail headers: at some point you will certainly have a mention of in the headers, no matter how you do it. Why waste your time to work around this? – Oliver May 1 '12 at 21:21
@oliver the two domains are for two independent companies that's why I want it to look as if the domains are hosted on two separate email servers even though they are not. – joshu May 1 '12 at 21:32
If this is an absolute must for you, you should go with approach 2 then. As said, this is perfectly valid. – Oliver May 1 '12 at 21:35

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