What is the difference between Local, Backup, and Remote Mail Exchanger in cPanel?

You may have noticed three Mail Exchanger options towards the bottom of the DNS zone for a domain in WHM (Home > DNS Functions > Edit DNS Zone > domain). Essentially, the option selected under “Email Routing for” tells cPanel how you would like the mail services for the domain handled. Unless you have a specific setup that needs these explicitly stated, the recommended option is “Automatically Detect Configuration.” The separate options mean:

  • Local Mail Exchanger: Handle all mail sent from the server to this domain locally; i.e. – deliver it to the mailbox that is on the server rather than a remote mail service.
  • Remote Mail Exchanger: Handle all mail sent to this domain remotely; i.e. – deliver it to the mail service determined by the domain’s MX record. (For example, if you have Google Apps set up as your domain’s mail service, deliver the emails to the mailbox on Google’s servers rather than your cPanel server)
  • Backup Mail Exchanger: Handle all emails like a remote mail exchanger, unless the remote service is unreachable, in that case handle it like a local mail exchanger. (For example, if you have Google as the mail service for the domain, then send the emails to Google’s servers like the remote mail exchanger. If for some reason Google’s servers are inaccessible, then deliver the mail locally, as in the local mail exchanger option.)

You may want to give extra attention to domains that use a remote mail server, as the “Automatically Detect Configuration” option may sometimes detect the wrong exchanger type. In this case you should manually choose Remote Mail Exchanger.

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