Beginner's Guide to Setting Up MXroute with Gmail

This guide is designed for people who (like me) have limited experience setting up mail servers or DNS. It will largely depend on three official pages (so you may want to take a look there for further reference):

Start

You should have received an email after signing up called "[MXroute] Important Account Information". It will contain a user/pass and URL for the server on which you're hosted.

The first thing you should do after logging in is change the password.

Afterwards, follow the instructions in the email to create four DNS records for your domain: two MX records and two TXT records (one SPF and one DKIM). Create one more CNAME record that maps “mail” to whatever you have as your primary MX record.

Unfortunately, since every DNS provider is different, you may have to play around with their interface a bit as there’s no way to cover them all in one guide. Fortunately, we can test whether your setup is correct.

Testing your DNS

Note: it may take 1 minute or as long as 4 hours for DNS changes to "show up" in the tester. This is normal, and there's no way of making it go quicker.

My domain is “thermite-art.com” and my mxroute server is “arrow”, which comes from the admin URL of https://arrow.mxrouting.net:2222/ (aside: for a list of all servers and their status, visit status.mxroute.com). Other than those two things and the TTL (time-to-live, a number between 0 and usually 3599), everything else should be exactly the same in the ;ANSWER block. Watch out for typos and pay particular attention to trailing periods.

1.Go to https://toolbox.googleapps.com/apps/dig/#MX/, and type in your domain

;ANSWER
thermite-art.com. 3599 IN MX 10 arrow.mxrouting.net.
thermite-art.com. 3599 IN MX 20 arrow-relay.mxrouting.net.

2.Go to https://toolbox.googleapps.com/apps/dig/#TXT/, and type in your domain

;ANSWER
thermite-art.com. 3599 IN TXT "v=spf1 include:mxlogin.com -all"

3.Go to https://toolbox.googleapps.com/apps/dig/#TXT/, and type in x._domainkey. + your domain (In this case, [lots of text] will be different for every domain; we will double-check this text later)

;ANSWER
x._domainkey.thermite-art.com. 3599 IN TXT "v=DKIM1; k=rsa; p=[lots of text]" "[lots of text]"

4.Go to https://toolbox.googleapps.com/apps/dig/#CNAME/, and type in mail. + your domain

;ANSWER
mail.thermite-art.com. 3599 IN CNAME arrow.mxrouting.net.

Creating an SSL certificate

The purpose of a certificate is to aid in secure communications, in this case between mxroute and gmail. This will only work once the DNS testing is successful!

In the admin console, go to Account Manager → SSL Certificates and click on the “Free & automatic certificate from Let’s Encryt” tab. Then follow the images below. Note that we’re only setting up the mail domain and not bothering about the webmail one (so it will only be accessible through gmail rather than its own client).

Creating an Account

In the admin console, go to Email Manager → E-mail Accounts and click on the "Create Account" button.


Use the “Generate Random Password” button as there’s no reason for a human to remember this password.


Copy this information (especially the password) to a text editor.

Setting up Gmail

In Gmail, go into settings and select the "Accounts and Import" tab. In the "Check mail from other accounts" section, click "Add a mail account".

gmail1

gmail2

gmail3
Note the Username is the full address.

gmail4

gmail5

gmail6

gmail7
You can click “Close window” as there will be a link in the email from the Gmail team.

Gmail will poll your account a few times an hour on average, which means the time between when an email is sent and when it shows up in Gmail could be up to 20-30 minutes. You can force an immediate poll in settings, on the “Accounts and Import” tab, in the “Check mail from other accounts” section.

Double-checking everything is working

After clicking on the verification link and confirming, refresh your whole gmail tab.

Compose a new message, and “From:” should now be a drop-down whereby you can select your new address.
test1

Go to https://www.mail-tester.com/, and use your new alias to send an email to the address shown on the page. The email should be “real”, so avoid words like test, blah, etc.

test2

Now go back to mail-tester page and click “Then check your score”. If it’s a 10 then everything worked!

6 Likes

Thanks for this guide, very useful indeed!
Is there a way to add those DNS records at registrar level or should this be done at host only?

Yes, registrars usually and typically have 4 boxes for entering nameservers I get from hosts but that doesn’t tell me where and how to use the 4 DNS records I get here…
If you ever come across a page that explains this for idiots like me I would be glad to test my IQ!

In short, you can usually create the records in either your registrar or host. Your registrar will probably have a “nameserver” setting associated with your domains, and that will dictate the correct spot to create the records.

OK, thanks for this but I knew that as I’m already using registrars, Moniker same as you do, to enter the nameservers of my host.

But I was referring to the OP’s para that goes:

In fact my question in plain english would rather be: how to have DNS records for both web host AND MXroute at registrar level?

I perfectly understand how to use my host’s NS at my registrar’s account and I also (think I) know how to setup MXroute’s 4 DNS records at my hosting’s cPanel Zone Editor.

But my understanding is also that one of the purposes/advantages of having mail hosting separate from website hosting is that you keep using emails accounts of your domain when your web host is failing or simply down.

So, at this point, I’m trying to find out whether this is really a thing and feasible at registrar’s level or whether there is a need for a DNS Hosting account for doing so - but I still don’t understand what DNS hosting is for…

I really appreciate the discussion here and I hope it can be useful also to others!

Ok, DNS 101.

When you register a domain, you have to tell the domain registrar who will host your domains DNS. This is where the ‘4 boxes’ comes in.

Quite typically, your domain registrar will act as the default DNS host. For example, my organizations main domain is registered through Moniker. The 4 name servers they provide by default are:

ns1.monikerdns.net
ns2.monikerdns.net
ns3.monikerdns.net
ns4.monikerdns.net

So if I am using the default nameservers, then I will enter any DNS records at that registrars DNS portal.

Now, you can use any DNS provider that you wish to use. Most people will choose to either use the registrars default nameservers, or will use the nameservers of their web host. So let’s say that you are going to use the nameservers of your web host. You will need to go back to your domain registrar and enter the nameservers that your web host provides you in those ‘4 boxes’. Once you have done this, your domain registrar will tell the internet to look for your DNS settings at the new location you have entered. This process is called ‘DNS delegation’.

Once you have delegated your DNS to a specific provider, you will almost exclusively enter all DNS records on that providers DNS portal.

So, in conclusion … you will enter those 4 records at your DNS providers portal.

Note - you refer to the ‘4 boxes’. The DNS system requires a MINIMUM of 2 name servers in all cases, but the ‘typical’ number of servers is 3 or 4, though some domain owners will have up to 6. IMHO the ideal number is 3.

I don’t believe there’s any way to have separate nameservers for some of the DNS records. That said, I don’t think there’s any real reason you would want to; DNS records are cached like crazy by the whole Internet so even if your host’s nameserver “goes down” any DNS records would still work fine for a while, at least until the nameservers came back up. If this is a concern maybe cranking your TTL way up to something like 12 hours (43200 seconds) would make you feel better? I’ve honestly never had an issue in this area in the last 20 years.

You DO NOT. Ever. You choose ONE entity to be your DNS host, whether it be your domain registrar, your web host, or an independent third party DNS hosting company. But you can have and need to select ONE.

Absolutely, but DNS is yet a third separate component. If you want to be best served, you should have your DNS hosted separate from your web hosting and your email hosting. But people are lazy, and tend to take the easiest option available to them. That being just allowing DNS to be automagically set within their cPanel,

No, and no. It simply does not work that way.

To ELI5. DNS is the ‘phone directory’ of the internet. You look up where x website is and you are given the address.

Let me change the wording of the comment by @ctheiss:

Afterwards, follow the instructions in the email to create four DNS records for your domain:

to

Afterwards, follow the instructions in the email to create four ADDITIONAL DNS records for your domain:

The MXroute required DNS records are in addition to the existing DNS records for web hosting. One thing to note is that they oftentimes will replace already existing records.

Many thanks folks!
Lessons learned and glad I asked…

@ ctheiss: you are right, that makes sense.

@ Alento: thank you for taking the time to clarify those points to me!

You seem to imply that we always should host DNS separate, at third party entity. I’ve read some pages about that and I also see that there are some free ones that seem to be reliable.

But it’s still not clear for me how you connect this DNS host with your web host’s nameserver. Is there any guide explaining this further?

NB: sorry, what did you mean by that?

You do NOT. You either copy the information from the web host’s DNS or you use the web hosts DNS. You don’t connect them.

It is a reddit thing. To Explain Like I am 5 (years old). – in other words, in very simple terms.

Many thanks, got it, 2x.