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SPF Records

Are you receiving bounced emails due to SPF?

     
8:48 pm on Jan 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Have you ever received a bounced email that states the recipients server rejected the message due to an SPF Policy? Well, I learned something today that may cause that bounced email.

Our clients have two options for their SMTP. They can either use our SMTP, or the one provided by their ISP. We recommend that they use their ISPs SMTP for a variety of reasons.

If your client is using their ISPs SMTP, then you need to configure your SPF Record to reflect that. When generating an SPF Record using the tool provided by the Official SPF Website [openspf.org], there is a section that asks this question...

Do any other servers send mail from www.example.com?

For clients using their ISPs SMTP, you need to add an argument to your record to reflect the IP address of the ISPs mailserver for that client. The SPF Website states this...

You can describe them by giving "arguments" to the a:, mx:, ip4:, and ptr: mechanisms. To keep the wizard short we left out ptr: but it works the same way.

To use a live example with generics, this is what your SPF Record might look like for a client who uses their ISPs SMTP...

"v=spf1 a mx:00-00-000-000.sub.example.com ~all"

If you follow the instructions provided by the SPF Wizard, you should be able to set up a correct SPF Record that will prevent emails from being rejected due to SPF Policies.

If you are sending to AOL and/or Earthlink accounts, you will need to have SPF records in place if you expect your emails to end up at their final destinations. ;)

Anybody here understand this in depth? If so, care to share your SPF experiences with us?

2:06 am on Jan 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I'm not going to try and tell you that I am an expert but I will tell you that we have not embraced SPF yet and have not had one issue, not a single one. I've done my fair share of research on SPF and still have my reservations.


If your client is using their ISPs SMTP, then you need to configure your SPF Record to reflect that.
[...]
If you are sending to AOL and/or Earthlink accounts, you will need to have SPF records in place if you expect your emails to end up at their final destinations. ;)

Humbly now mind you, I respectfully disagree. And I wouldn't just make that statement without background and experience. I'll explain myself ...

Since I first heard and learned of SPF I have been testing. I setup our environment internally where one of our heavy email users uses the ISP mail servers whereas my machine uses our domain email server. Never setting up SPF records we have been rolling along just fine. Now, that is just internal...

We also have a mixed lot of clients using a very large amount of email addresses (hundred thousands) on a very diverse collection of domains that are using both shared servers as well as their own ISP mail servers and have yet to run into any issues. Not one. We have not yet embraced SPF and still have no need. Many of these clients run AOL email accounts with name-branded forwarding addesses without issue. I can't say if I know of any off-hand using earthlink though. aol, hotmail, email, mail ... yes, but I cannot confirm earthlink. All without SPF records, and all without issue. That is, of course, unless they haven't told us about issues encountered ;)

That's my experience to date ... looking forward to hearing others.

3:49 pm on Jan 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Keep in mind that on a Microsoft server that the quotes are not needed, in fact they might cause problems.

I have used [microsoft.com...] to help create an SPF record for use on Windows servers

-Corey

8:59 pm on Jan 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

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at my previous job email was our bread and butter and we did have an spf record.

did it help? I don't know but I couldn't take the risk that not having it might hurt. Getting emails through to as many people as possible was very important and I took every precaution. The thing is that there are so many other factors involved.

reverse dns records and email content for example. If the emails are all personal emails (not automated) I doubt you will ever have problems. If you are sending out a lot of similar emails that an ISP could profile then you may notice that an SPF record helps, but then again maybe not.

I hate the fact that AOL (and wasn't there someone else too) is trying to drive it down people's throats ad I don't agree with it but if it helps then I don't really have a choice.

4:33 am on Jan 24, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I don't think the problem is so much NOT having SPF records, but if you DO have SPF records, then they need to accurately reflect the mail servers for the domain.

If you don't have any SPF at all, you're not penalized in most cases, but if you do, and it doesn't list the server you're sending through, then I would expect bounces.

I have SPF just because ... well, it doesn't seem to hurt anything, but I do make sure that all my MX bases are covered also. For awhile, I forgot to put in the server that my site is actually hosted on (since it sends emails for various things) and I did get a few bounces. Since then, I put in the servers themselves, as well as my own SMTP servers.

JK