I am setting up a fresh brand new mail server and I want to get it whitelisted across all mail companies, aol, yahoo, hotmail, gmail, etc.

There are options like mailgun.net which I would consider but want to use our own

  • ... to achieve what? How does the title match the question? – mailq Aug 15 '11 at 19:18
  • Every few years there are better strategies in setting up mail servers, I would love to get input to the best strategy. – Daniel Aug 15 '11 at 19:27
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    +1. Not sure I get the question but get some rep for good use of "...in this day and age" in a question title. – Richard Holloway Aug 15 '11 at 22:15

What software you choose to go with is ultimately down to you, but the usual sensibilities apply;

  1. Require authentication for sending/receiving messages, TLS highly recommended.
  2. Have the PTR records for your SMTP server correctly setup; not everyone will penalise you for this, but some will.
  3. Implement SPF record with a hard fail for non-matching senders (-all)
  4. Implement DKIM (nb: DKIM != DomainKeys) - you may choose to implement both, but don't implement DomainKeys and not DKIM since DomainKeys is old hat at this point.

Finally, be vigilant over who you hand out mail accounts to and/or do spam checking on outbound mail if you have a fear of accountholders abusing their account (or getting their credentials stolen and abused)

The only thing in the above list that should actually require setup on the SMTPd is DKIM/DomainKeys, personally I use DKIM-milter for Postfix.

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The biggest thing you can do is to setup your DNS and server headers properly. This means:

  • Server reports itself as 'mx.example.com'
  • Server's A record resolves to 'mx.example.com'
  • PTR record for server's outbound IP resolves to 'mx.example.com'

You can also look at setting up SPF and Microsoft's derivative, SenderID, and DKIM (DomainKeys is deprecated by DKIM).

Once you have the IP you're going to be sending mail from, check to see if it's been blacklisted. MXToolbox has a good one that I commonly use.

Running a mail server sucks. I run my own personal one and it's okay. I also work for a managed hosting company and when I was on the support side, I helped with more problems for folks wanting to run their own. If you want to do mass mailing, use someone like sendgrid.com.

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  • Can I have an example of a server reports itself as 'mx.example.com'? For example, 'dig SOMESERVER' gives me an mx record. I would love to just see this in action. – Daniel Aug 15 '11 at 19:30
  • I think hes talking about whatever mail software y ou're using responds with "mx.yourmailserver.com" instead of "Bob's Mail Server". – ErnieTheGeek Aug 15 '11 at 19:58

Follow the "Golden Rule".

If you prevent spamming the world then everything will work right out of the box. You need no whitelisting at the big players. They will accept your mails as long as you don't behave suspicious. If you need whitelisting, first try to ask DNSWL.org. But you should be "in the market" for some time that everybody can calculate your reputation based on the past mail delivery.

If you see problems delivering mails to the big players, then your system is configured wrong. You will not solve that with whitelisting! But first try to start right away and then see if whitelisting is necessary anyway.

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