Mail Service Provider

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You may wish to have more control over your email by using a Mail Service Provider (MSP) which provides enhanced features including improved reliability, security, and spam prevention.

What is an MSP?

A Mail Service Provider, or MSP, provides the following features:

  • Enhanced services related to email transport.
  • Outsourced services such as virus scanning, SPAM filtering, and policy enforcement, but do not typically host email addresses.
  • A robust Message Transfer Agent (MTA) for their clients' domains and offload processing tasks.

Why would I want to use an MSP?

Due to their specialization, an MSP can provide improved email handling, over and above DreamHost's service. MSPs are most attractive to business users who rely heavily on email.

Here are a few highlights of what an MSP can provide:

  • Reliability – MSPs maintain multiple, geographically diverse mail servers and will continue to accept mail for your domain in the event of a regional outage. If DreamHost's inbound mail servers are down, the MSP would queue mail until services at DreamHost are resolved, then proceed to deliver the messages that would have been otherwise lost or bounced.
  • Security – MSPs provide security tools such as advanced anti-virus and protection against email bombs, directory harvest attacks, as well as other threats. If you are running your own mail server, you can configure it to only allow connections from your MSP, thereby shielding it from many potential attackers.
  • SPAM filtering – MSPs provide a high level of SPAM filtering and quarantine management systems.

Using an MSP with DreamHost

Dh-kb-important-icon.fw.png Important:

DreamHost does not offer an email only hosting plan. To use email with DreamHost, you must purchase a web hosting plan. The web hosting plan comes with free email service.

  1. Sign up with an MSP.
    • The MSP will provide you with new MX records.
    • You will then need to edit your MX records so that incoming mail will be directed to your MSP first.
    Dh-kb-note-icon.fw.png Note: MSPs typically charge for their services based on what they offer, and often on a per email address basis.

  2. Go to (Panel > ‘Mail’ > ‘Custom MX’).
  3. Click the Edit button to the right of the domain to edit its settings.
  4. Scroll down to the ‘Custom MX Records’ section.
    01 MSP.fw.png
  5. Enter the MX Records your MSP gave you.
  6. Select the checkbox ‘I will still check my email at DreamHost.’.
Dh-kb-note-icon.fw.png Note: Note your current MX settings, listed as "DreamHost MX Records". You will need to provide this information to your MSP so that they are able to know where to send your mail.

You'll still continue to use the (Panel > ‘Mail’ > ‘Manage Email’) page to configure your domain's email addresses.

Dh-kb-warn-icon.fw.png Warning: If you delete all the email addresses on a domain using custom MX records, the domain's mail service will revert to DreamHost-hosted mail service and the custom MX records will be erased from the panel.

Extra step needed for Anti-Spam users

If you are switching to an MSP and currently using DreamHost's Anti-spam settings, the MX records for your domain will currently point to the anti-spam servers, not the actual servers where your mail accounts are and where the MSP needs to send mail.

Dh-kb-note-icon.fw.png Note: Never give the MSP an MX record such as as doing so will cause your emails to disappear.

You need to figure out the correct MX records to give the MSP. You can turn off the Anti-spam filtering for the domain and wait for the MX records to update, or use these steps.

  1. You can identify which mail server you are on by visiting the (Panel > ‘Support’ > ‘Data Centers’) page.
    04 mail servernames.png
  2. Under the 'Mail service' section you'll see your mail server to the right of any domain. In this example it’s homiemail-sub4.
  3. Find the matching MX server name in the table below.
    Email Cluster MX Record(s) to give MSP

    • This example shows homiemail-sub4. So you’d give to your MSP to connect.

Commercial MSPs

While various popular services such as Postini were acquired by Google, and others have gone out of business, there are still a few reputable services to assist you with the spooling and filtering of mail.

While all of them are not listed here, here are links for a few of the more popular ones: