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Backup MX – A great way to quickly recover from mail failures

Backup MX – A great way to quickly recover from mail failures

These days, almost all business communications happen over email. If the mail server goes down for any reason, all mails in that server will bounce, causing significant business disruption.

For shared hosting providers, this is a major issue, as a single server hosts hundreds of businesses, and a service failure can affect all of them. During such a downtime, hosting providers are usually flooded with support requests to recover lost emails.

Here at Bobcares, we help hosting companies manage their support desk (via our Outsourced Technical Support services), and we’ve seen our fair share of support requests complaining about lost mail. Broadly there are two categories of such issues:

  • Delayed mail delivery : When the retry time is high for sending mail server. Mails will eventually be delivered, but will be delayed by a few hours to even a day.
  • Permanent bounce : When the retry time-out has expired or there are no retry attempts, causing mail loss during a server down.

Neither of these two situations are desirable. Many mails would be of urgent nature, and hosting users won’t have the patience to wait for it to be eventually delivered. A permanent bounce is even worse, because any information sent is permanently lost.

To counter these situations, we recommend hosting companies to setup an email bagging server using a backup mail server (aka backup MX).

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What is a Backup MX?

Every domain that requires email services, has an associated MX record in its DNS zone. This MX (Mail exchanger) record specifies the mail server responsible for handling the mails of that domain.

A single domain can have multiple mail servers assigned to it. These multiple MX records have priorities assigned to each, which determines the order in which mail servers are chosen for e-mail processing.

The priority is determined in such a way that the lowest numeric value MX is treated as the primary mail server. If primary is down, the next priority is given to the next lowest value and so on.

In this sample MX record, the mail server ‘’ has priority 10 and is assigned as the primary. The mail server ‘’ with priority 20 would be chosen next, and so on.


backup mx multiple dns

MX records for a domain with backup MX


The benefit of having multiple mail servers associated with one domain is that the additional mail servers can act as Backup MX in case the primary mail server becomes non-functional.

Many reasons, such as connectivity problems, server downs, maintenance, security or software upgrades, hardware crashes, high server load, spamming, etc. can cause the primary mail server to be inaccessible.

When primary mail server goes down, mails will be routed to the backup MX, based on the priority set in DNS records. With the help of this backup MX, we can ensure that your customers receive their important mails in a timely manner.

At Bobcares, we configure and setup Backup MX servers for our customers as a part of the disaster management plan, to recover all customer mails in the case of any catastrophe.

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Bobcares provides Outsourced Web Hosting Support and Outsourced Server Management for online businesses. Our services include 24/7 server support, help desk support, live chat support and phone support.

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Bobcares is a server management company that helps businesses deliver uninterrupted and secure online services. Our engineers manage close to 51,500 servers that include virtualized servers, cloud infrastructure, physical server clusters, and more.