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Configuring MX record switch over to hosted Exchange


smetts
Asked:
2015-05-26 10:26 am EST

Hits: 1,139
The idea of what we want to do is have our Exchange server be the primary host of our mail. We also want to keep InMotion as a backup host in case our server goes down.

So would we have to do the following..

1. In MX Entry in CPanel, change the radio button to Backup Exchange.
2. Add the Exchange server MX record and give it a priortiy of 0
3. Change the Inmotion MX record to a priority of 10

4. Go into DNS Manager in our Domain Controller and change our MX record to priority of 0.
5. Add the InMotion MX record and make that a priority of 10.

We also have a firewall that we store our pointer records on. Do we have to add MX on there too?

I'm also assuming that I should do this on a Friday night and that it could take up to 48 hours to complete?

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1

TJEdens
Staff
10,077 Points
2015-05-26 10:31 am EST
Hello Smetts,

You should only have to change the MX Entry as you stated in steps 2 and 3. You should not have to modify DNS unless you wanted exchange.yourdomain.com to point to your exchange server. Regarding the firewall you may or may not have to modify the rules/entries as I am not sure what type of system you are using for it.

Best Regards,
TJ Edens

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The MX record itself on our DNS is named after the exchange server and the FQDN is pointed to that server so I assume I don't have to change that. Would I want to change the priority to 0 though since it's at 10 even though no other MX records are on the DNS server?

Regarding the radio button, if I want InMotion Hosting to be used as a means to be a backup to Exchange in case our servers go down, would I select the backup and then perform steps 2 and 3 or would I use remote?
smetts
78 Points
2015-05-26 10:47 am EST
0

TJEdens
Staff
10,077 Points
2015-05-27 12:58 am EST
Hello Smetts,

It is best to keep it at automatically detect settings. As for the priority on the other server you should be fine. As long as on our system your exchange server is a lower number than ours, your emails should go to the correct place.

Best Regards,
TJ Edens

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It's not set to automatically detect settings. It is currently set at local mail exchanger.
smetts
78 Points
2015-05-27 9:40 am EST
Hello Smetts,

If you have it set to LOCAL, then the DNS settings are basically assuming the InMotion server to be the primary mail server. This means that any email user account would need to exist locally, as the mail server is looking for that account to exist "locally". If you have your DNS controlled here and you intend to have the defining mail server to be elsewhere, then it should be set to REMOTE. This way, it immediately knows WHERE to find the email accounts for incoming/outgoing email. A common error with this setting is when it is set to remote, and the email user account does not exist at the remote server location. The error is typically "NO SUCH USER HERE".

I hope this helps to explain the setting. If you want to setup a BACKUP server for mail, then you should use the Exchange server options for that purpose, as simply changing the priority for the MX server doesn't guarantee that the other mail server(s) with lower priority will ever get a COPY of that email. If you're changing priority so that another server can take charge of handling email, you're basically making it fail-safe so that mail continues to be delivered if the primary server(s) go down.

If you have any further questions or comments, please let us know.

Regards,
Arnel C.
Arn
40,336 Points
Staff
2015-05-27 10:27 am EST
So if the goal is to have the Exchange server host the email primarily and to have InMotion become a secondary host in case our Exchange server goes down, we should set the radio button to Backup and just make the priority MX record be the Exchange one and the InMotion one would be secondary via the cpanel
smetts
78 Points
2015-05-27 10:36 am EST
Hello Smetts,

The backup button (in the MX Email routing settings of cPanel) shouldn't be used unless you have a separate server setup for the SOLE purpose of backup. You want to leave it set to REMOTE since your Exchange server will be the primary with a priority of 0. The mail server setting for our server should be set to a higher number like 10 or 20, so that it acts as the fall back server if something goes wrong. These recommendations pretty much sum it up:


Assigning Priority to MX Entries:

  • Lower values denote higher priority, with 0 being the highest possible priority.

  • The primary mail server(s) (with the lowest-numbered priority) will receive mail sent to your domain.

  • Secondary mail servers (those with higher priority values) can be used for backup or other purposes.

  • If you assign multiple mail servers the same priority, then when that level of mail server is needed, mail will be distributed to those servers randomly.



Hope this helps to clear it up!

Regards,
Arnel C.
Arn
40,336 Points
Staff
2015-05-27 11:20 am EST
Awesome. Great info. Now when we do the rollout, would users still be able to use the inmotion webmail service or would that be down? Same with post-deployment.
smetts
78 Points
2015-05-27 1:17 pm EST
Hello Smetts,

First I really need to apologize for what I said before as it was incorrect. Here's the best documentation on the issue:

Configuring Mx Records

You were correct in that it should be set to BACKUP MAIL SERVER! I was thinking that the mail would not be handled here at all.
Backup Mail Exchanger — The domain acts as a backup mail exchanger and holds mail in the queue if the primary exchanger is offline. In a manner of speaking, mail really isn't handled, as it's basically "held in queue" by the backup mail server. Once the primary mail server is functioning again, email will flow to it from delayed queue.

If you're trying to maintain functionality, I would say that that webmail does not work as it's based on the cPanel server to be the primary email server. Since you're using Exchange as the primary, it wouldn't be an option. If you're trying to have a fall back email server that will work in place of the primary server going down, you should go with redundant primary servers where they're the same type (e.g. two Exchange servers) so that the one will take over if the other goes down.

Check out this cPanel Forum reply from a cPanel staff member. The question posed is similar to your configuration where they're trying to use an Exchange server as the primary and the cPanel server as the backup. The cPanel staff member pretty much states "Depending on the configuration, the e-mails may only be stored in the secondary's server's mail queue until the primary server is restored to normal functionality."

Apologies again for my initial answer! I was thinking of backup in the traditional sense, not in terms of email server function provided by cPanel. If you have any further questions or comments, please let us know.

Regards,
Arnel C.
Arn
40,336 Points
Staff
2015-05-28 11:36 am EST
This part confused me:

You were correct in that it should be set to BACKUP MAIL SERVER! I was thinking that the mail would not be handled here at all.
Backup Mail Exchanger — The domain acts as a backup mail exchanger and holds mail in the queue if the primary exchanger is offline. In a manner of speaking, mail really isn't handled, as it's basically "held in queue" by the backup mail server. Once the primary mail server is functioning again, email will flow to it from delayed queue.

You said that the domain acts a backup when Backup Mail Exchanger radio is selected. Are we referencing the inmotion domain or are you talking about the exchange? The idea is for the Exchange to be the primary server and inmotion would then be a backup in case of failure.

Also, with your webmail explanation, does this mean that the webmail service would be permanently down when we start and finish the deployment?
smetts
78 Points
2015-05-28 12:20 pm EST
Hello Smetts,

Sorry for the confusion. Basically, if you have our email server setup as a lower priority and your Exchange server as the primary server, the best that the cPanel mail server will do is queue the email (or hold mail in queue) until the primary server returns to service. It would not be able to deliver emails. Remember that mail account information would be saved at the primary email server.

Regarding webmail, the webmail clients would be able to SEND emails, but they would never be able to receive. I spoke with several people to make sure that this was the case before posting my last comment. If you are referring to a Microsoft Exchange server as your primary server, keep in mind that account information is NOT being shared with the non-Microsoft email server on our hosting services. If you want redundant services that can take over when the MS Exchange server goes down, then you will want to have multiple instances of Exchange running.

I hope this helps to clear everything up. Apologies again for my earlier comment. Let us know if you have any further questions or comments.

Regards,
Arnel C.
Arn
40,336 Points
Staff
2015-05-29 10:17 am EST
What if we decide to use Local Mail Exchange or Remote Mail Exchanger instead but still have the Exchange server as primary and InMotion as backup? Is this feasible?
smetts
78 Points
2015-05-29 1:00 pm EST
0

TJEdens
Staff
10,077 Points
2015-05-29 1:35 pm EST
Hello Smetts,

The Local and Remote options are one way or the other and setting our server as a backup will not work. I strongly suggest setting the option to either automatic or backup.

Best Regards,
TJ Edens

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When it comes to the autodiscover record, do we change the DNS of that from inmotion's server to the public IP that we have with our ISP?
smetts
78 Points
2015-06-01 4:27 pm EST
Hello Smetts,

Your autodiscover record should be set to point to your primary Exchange server.

Kindest Regards,
Scott M
scott
43,761 Points
Staff
2015-06-01 4:51 pm EST
When it comes to the SRV record, what should we rename our name and target fields to specifically?
smetts
78 Points
2015-06-03 1:49 pm EST
Hello Smetts,

Here's an example of it: autodiscover._tcp.inmotiontesting.com srv +short 10 10 443 secure108.inmotionhosting.com. This can only done with root access to the server. If you're not familiar with it, then you may want to consult with a developer/technician who is as they can vary. Here's a few links to documentation on it: SRV Records, Microsoft: How to verify that SRV DNS records have been created for a domain controller.

I hope this helps to answer your question, please let us know if you require any further assistance.

Regards,
Arnel C.
Arn
40,336 Points
Staff
2015-06-04 11:00 am EST
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