Mail Service Provider

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What is an MSP?

Mail Service Providers or "MSP"s provide enhanced services related to e-mail transport. MSPs typically provide outsourced services such as virus scanning, SPAM filtering and policy enforcement. MSPs typically do not host e-mail boxes. The primary purpose of an MSP is to provide a robust MTA for their clients' domains and to offload various e-mail processing tasks.

Why would I want to use an MSP

Due to their specialization, an MSP can provide improved e-mail handling, over and above Dreamhost's already excellent service. MSPs will be most attractive to business users who rely heavily on e-mail.

  1. Reliability - MSPs maintain multiple, geographically diverse mail servers. The MSP will continue to accept mail for your domain in spite of regional outages. If Dreamhost's inbound mailservers are down (e.g. maintenance), the MSP will queue your mail for delivery once DH is back online.
  2. Security - MSPs provide best of breed (often multi-sourced) anti-virus and also actively protect against e-mail bombs, directory harvest attacks, etc. If you are running your own mailserver, you can configure it to only allow connections from your MSP, thereby shielding it from many potential attackers.
  3. SPAM filtering - MSPs provide best of breed (often proprietary) SPAM filtering and quarantine management systems.

How to use an MSP with Dreamhost

  1. Sign up with an MSP. For budgetary purposes, you are probably looking at $3 to $5 per address per month with a minimum of 10 addresses. YMMV
  2. The MSP will provide you with new MX information. You will need to edit your MX records so that incoming mail will be directed to your MSP.
  3. In the Dreamhost Control Panel, go to Mail, Custom MX. Scroll down to the section titled "Custom MX Records" and then enter the MX records provided by your MSP.
  4. Check the "I still want Dreamhost to accept email for this domain" box.
  5. Note your current MX settings, listed as "DreamHost MX Records". You will need to provide this information to your MSP so that they know where to send your mail.

MSP Settings01.jpg

You'll continue using the panel's Manage Email page to configure your domain's email addresses.

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, the MX records for your domain will be currently pointing to the anti-spam servers, not the actual servers where your mail accounts are and where the MSP needs to send mail. Never give the MSP an MX record such as – it will cause your emails to disappear and be eaten by a grue.

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. In the DreamHost Control Panel, click the "Account Status" link in the top right corner.
  2. Look for the Email Cluster.
  3. Find your cluster in the table below.
  4. Give the MX record(s) from the table to your MSP.
Email Cluster MX Record(s) to give MSP

Commercial MSPs

  • Messagelabs (acquired by Symantec in 2008)