What is an SPF-record? How do I create it?

What is an SPF-record? How do I create it?

Why would you use an SPF-record?

The SPF-record (or the Sender Policy Framework record) is, to put it simply, a recommendation from the owner of the domain name to recipients of its e-mail. The message contains information about the mail servers that are authorized to handle outgoing mail for that domain. That way if someone received messages from an address registered with it, the recipient will 'ask' the domain name owner if the message is coming from a legitimate source. That system helps prevent spam and more specifically email impersonation.

In other words, if you create and set up an SPF-record, it is less likely spammers and scammers send messages on your behalf. If they do, their messages will be caught by filters and protections the receivers of the messages have.

What are the SPF-record elements?

Even though it might look like a special type of record, judging by its name, it is actually applied as a TXT-record.

The SPF-record has the following elements:

  • 'v=' indicates the SPF version
  • 'include' includes the SPF of another indicated host
  • An IP address or a host with a default SPF that you want to adopt as your own - indicating the exact authorized server, or a set of authorized name servers
  • the qualifier could be one of the following options:
    • -all is a hard fail and means any message that is not originating from a mail server mentioned in the SPF should be treated as spam
    • ~all is a soft fail and means any message that is not originating from a mail server mentioned in the SPF is probably spam
    • ?all is a neutral specifier and means that the receiving mail server can decide for themselves if the sending server is not mentioned in the SPF, but if the mail server is exclusively included in the SPF, it should definitely be okay
    • +all means no limitation for this domain

What SPF-record value do you use?

If you use Basic E-mail, we recommend you setup the following value:

v=spf1 include:_spf.relay.mailprotect.be -all

If you use Exchange E-mail, we recommend you setup the following value:

v=spf1 include:_spf.powermail.be -all

Caution: If you use the -all qualifier, it will cause problems for users of Exchange when the website has a contact form where the sender's email address is an email address that has the same domain because the IP of the web server is not added in the SPF record – you would have to add the IP address of the Web Server to the SPF record OR - what is the easy solution - you can just add the Basic Mail Include statement to your SPF-record like so: v=spf1 include:_spf.relay.mailprotect.be -all

How do you apply an SPF-record?

  1. Log in your My Combell hosting control panel (https://my.combell.com/en).

  2. At the top follow 'My Products' > 'DNS & forwarding management'.

    My Products

  3. In the table you will see your hosts. Click on ‘DNS & forwarding’ for the host you need to add SPF-record to.

    DNS & forwarding management

  4. In the vertical menu to your left, select the 'TXT-records' option.

    TXT-records

  5. Put in the TXT rules box the text - for example 'v=spf1 include:_spf.relay.mailprotect.be -all'.

    TXT-record form

  6. Click on the '+ Add' button.

    SPF-record added

How do you generate an SPF-record? (Advanced)

You can set up a custom SPF-record following this tutorial:

  1. You need to generate the SPF as TXT. To do that:

    1. Go to http://www.spfwizard.net/.

    2. Enter your domain name.

    3. Set 'Allow servers listed as MX to send e-mail for this domain' to Yes.

    4. Set 'Allow current IP address of the domain to send e-mail for this domain' to Yes.

    5. Set 'Allow any hostname ending in domain.com to send e-mail for this domain' to No.

    6. If you are using an different SMTP enter its IP address in this field: 'IP addresses in CIDR format that deliver or relay e-mail for this domain'.

      Spfwizard form

    7. Copy the text quotations in the DNS entry field. Ex.: 'v=spf1 mx a ~all'.

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