At least twice a year we get a panicked phone call from one of our clients saying that their email is broken. We immediately jump into action to troubleshoot the problem. One of the first things we check is the Domain Name Service (DNS) setup of the email. What we often find is that the client got a new website host and the new web developers changed or deleted the mail exchange, or “MX”, records.
After working with email systems and web development companies for over 20 years, it is truly remarkable that today’s web development companies have no more knowledge of how things work than companies in the early days of the web. Every domain name (e.g., deckerwright.com) has a DNS host that maintains the list of names and their connection to Internet Protocol (IP) addresses. Think of DNS as a phone book for web sites. Web development companies often take over the DNS hosting responsibilities for the client when they move websites from one website hosting service to another. Unfortunately, the web developers don’t take the time to document the current DNS settings for other services, like email, that are also dependent on DNS records. The result is broken email.
We recommend that every company with a domain name and an internet presence use an independent DNS hosting service, usually the same service where the domain name is registered. By maintaining an independent DNS host, name-based internet services can be moved around without disrupting other services. Independent DNS gives the client full control over who is providing internet services and makes changes to service providers easier.
Don’t trust your web developers. If you're getting a new web site, always ask if they want to move DNS from its current host to a host they control. If they say they want to move DNS, tell them NO!
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