How to use external DNS with Plesk

Already manage all your DNS records through your registrar? Perhaps you subscribe to a DNS service that uses multiple-location and/or anycast redundant DNS servers; understandable that you’d want to continue using this service! However it does make configuration of things like mail services and new subdomains a bit trickier.

Mail Records

When using your Plesk server for DNS management, all of the records are set up automatically for you, so there’s basically no technical configurations required — simply update name servers and you’re all set.

If you will be hosting your mail with us, be sure to mirror the mail-related DNS records you see within Plesk to your external DNS provider.

If your mail is also external, then you’ll need to consult your mail provider for the correct DNS configuration.

Details on MX (Mail eXchange) Records

These records point incoming mail to the correct server that’s configured to receive mail for the domain. If hosting mail within Plesk with Websavers, you only need to use one, but external providers like Google Apps uses multiple.

Note that, while they can be, these should not be configured to point to IP addresses directly, so you need to set up an A record that points to the right IP, then use the A record in the MX record.

Example MX Record:

( must also exist as an A record, see below!)

Details on A records (or CNAME)

Such as and Records of type A (used for name->IP resolution) and CNAME (used for name->name resolution, similar to an alias) are general purpose.

Sample A record: -> [be sure to use the actual server IP here]

Sample CNAME record: ->

The sample A record here is multi-purpose. You can use it in your mail applications to route  IMAP/POP/SMTP connections to the right server, and you can use it in your MX record to route new incoming mail to the same server. You could opt to use it for everything, but most people tend to prefer sticking to a particular use for specific records to keep some semblance of organization to their DNS configurations.

The sample CNAME record is simple! It tells us that is found at the same IP as Yes, you could just use two A records, but with a CNAME, if you ever want to change the mail server IP, you only have to do so in one spot, assuming that incoming mail, IMAP, POP, SMTP and Webmail will reside on the same server.

SPF records

Usually just a record of type TXT. More details on that on the SPF Standard page here.

Sample: v=spf1 a mx -all

Disable Unused Services

Be sure to disable any services you’re *not* using for the domain in Plesk.

If the DNS is external, turn off DNS for the domain. If a particular domain uses Google apps for email, make sure to disable mail for the domain as well.

Manual Record Creation

Don’t forget that by hosting your DNS externally, every time you add a subdomain in Plesk for hosting, you’ll need to manually create that A or CNAME record at your DNS host; this will not happen automatically.

About Jordan Schelew

Jordan has been working with computers, security, and network systems since the 90s and is a managing partner at Websavers Inc. As a founder of the company, he's been in the web tech space for over 15 years.

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