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How to Create an SPF Record to Authorise Arrowmail's Servers to send email on behalf of your Internet Domain


What is SPF?

Sender Policy Framework (SPF) is an initiative to fight spam by identifying emails that claim to have been sent from a particular email address when, in fact, the From address has been forged.
The SPF system uses DNS records that can only be created by the owner of an Internet Domain and which specifically list the servers that are authorised to send emails from that domain.
An email that is being sent from a server not on this authorised list is therefore a forgery and can be refused or deleted.

The SPF system isn't perfect and hasn't been adopted universally, so refusing emails based on a failed SPF record check would result in many genuine emails being lost.
However, it's now quite common for email systems that use a scoring system, based on several factors to determine if an email is spam, to use an SPF pass or failure to adjust an email's spam score.

We therefore strongly recommend that if you are sending out emails via our servers, you create an SPF record authorising them to send emails for your domain.

Even if you don't use Arrowmail to send your emails, it's still worth creating an SPF record to authorise your out-going email servers. If your in-house server sends emails directly, it would still benefit from having an SPF record.


What type of DNS Record do I need to Create?

The DNS system has different types of record that can be created, such as A, MX, CNAME and PTR records.
SPF information is recorded in a TXT record which is a standard DNS record type that is also used for other purposes.
A new type of DNS record was defined, specifically for the SPF system, however this didn't catch on plus caused other problems and so is no longer supported.
This makes it easier as you now only have to create one record.
A few DNS systems still don't support TXT records.


How to Create an SPF Record

This is normally done by logging on to the Control Panel on the website of your
Domain Registrar, who are the people you pay money to in order to keep using your Internet domain name.
All these Control Panels seem to operate differently but your aim is to create a TXT record like this one:-

mycompany.co.uk.   IN   TXT   "v=spf1 include:arrowmail.co.uk -all"

with your domain name substituted for mycompany.co.uk

Some DNS control panels need you to enter the quotation marks while others automatically put them in for you.
Try putting them in first and if you get an error or the SPF record you create appears with double quotation marks then leave them out.

The -all at the end of the SPF record means:-
"the servers listed in this SPF record are the only ones that can send emails from this domain"
While ~all means:-
"as well as the servers listed here, other servers may send emails from this domain"
We strongly recommend that you use -all otherwise you don't have protection against spammers forging emails so that they appear to come from your domain.

It's possible that you have a website or a 3rd party that sends out newsletter for you and these emails use your domain as the From address.
In these cases you should include the servers that send these emails in your SPF record.

If you already have an SPF record then just modify it by adding include:arrowmail.co.uk before the -all

Only one SPF record is allowed. All entries must be included in a single record.

The full syntax of SPF records can be found here.

If you have more than one domain name that you send emails from, or you also send emails from sub-domains, you should create a separate SPF record for each domain and sub-domain.


Need help creating an SPF record?

We want our customers' emails to have the best chance of being delivered so, if you want to create an SPF record but don't feel confident enough to actually do it, or someone has told you it's not possible, here are some things we're happy to do for you to make it happen:-


1 -

We'll create the SPF record for you
Give us the username and password for your Domain Registrar control panel and we'll create the required SPF record.. You may need to get a password reminder or contact them about how to access your DNS settings.
If you don't know who's handling your DNS, we can look this up for you.


2 -

We'll host and manage your DNS for you
We run our own DNS system with 3 separate servers, so if you think it's simpler to let us handle everything then we can host your DNS.
We charge £1.85/month for the first domain and £1/month for any extra domains.
We'll create a TXT  type record for your domain plus replicate all your existing DNS records before the changeover to avoid any disruption.
We don't have a web control panel to allow you to change DNS records yourself so you'll need to email us if you need to make any changes in the future.
Letting us host and manage your DNS is a safe option for those not familiar with the subtleties of DNS records.

We'll still need that pesky username and password for your current Domain Registrar/DNS host and then we'll move everything over to our system, without causing you any downtime.
Our DNS Hosting website is www.dnsmax.co.uk


How can I confirm that I've created the SPF record Correctly?

You can check that your SPF record has been correctly setup by sending an email to:-
check-auth@verifier.port25.com
Make sure that the From address you use is covered by the SPF record, and that you send out the email using one of the servers listed in your SPF record.
There's no need to put anything in the Subject Line or the Body of the email.
You should receive a reply containing something like the extract below, which also checks out any other anti-spam initiatives such as DomainKeys, DKIM, and Sender-ID:-


Part of the email reply received after sending an email to check-auth@verifier.port25.com to confirm the SPF record has been created successfully


The actual email reply is much longer than the extract shown above, but you're looking for the SPF Pass result that we've ringed in red.

We also perform DKIM signing on every email we send out, which is another anti-spam initiative and we don't need you to do anything for us to be able to sign your outgoing emails.



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