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How to check and setup an SPF record

Posted on 15th January 2018

1 | What is an SPF record? 

I'll start with an analogy to help understand what an SPF Record actually is.

SPF Records are one of the 'Security Guards' that stand in front of your front door, so to speak!
 
If someone sends me a letter, the security guard will pick up the phone, call the sender and say "I've just received a letter from Royal Mail saying it's from you, is that right?". 
 
If the sender says Yes, then the security guard delivers the letter. If the sender says No, the letter gets put in the bin. 
 
That is essentially what an SPF Record does for your email.
 
Whenever you receive an email, your spam software checks the SPF Record and that you have permitted that sender to send email on your behalf. 
If they're not listed, your email either goes to spam or instantly rejected. 
If they are listed - then you're golden. 

2 | What does an SPF record do? 

 
An SPF record:
 
  • Greatly enhances the chances of emails you have sent to make it through to the recipients Inbox, and not be caught as spam. 
  • Prevents phishing attacks by stopping attackers sending emails whilst pretending to be you or your company. 
  • Stop other people sending spam from what looks to be your domain name. 

 

3 | Do I need an SPF record? 

Everybody who sends email needs an SPF Record.
  • Office 365
  • Gmail
  • Xero
  • Infusionsoft
  • Hubspot
  • Mailchimp
  • BombBomb
Even if you have your email system in-house, you still need an SPF Record.
Start by making a list of every single system or piece of software which you use that sends email on your behalf. 
The above list are ones we come across more often than not, but essentially everything that sends an email which originates from your domain name needs to be on that list. 
 

4 | How do I check if I have one? 

Go to MXToolbox and type in your domain name and press enter.
 
If you see something like the image below then great, you have an SPF record!
If not, then you need to create one.
 
googlespf.png
 
Now you need to read over the SPF record and make sure it lists any email service you use. 
 
See an example of our own SPF record below. 
 
tekkersspf.png
 
We send emails via a number of third party systems so ours is very, very long. So long in fact we have had to split ours up into multiple records (spf1.tekkersit.com / spf2.tekkersit.com) 
 

5 | How do I fix it? 

Speak to whoever manages your DNS records. Whether it's your IT people or your website people, they will be able to modify them accordingly. 
 
If you want to change your own SPF record, then firstly you need to find what information you need to change.
Speak to the third party (shown in step 2 - above) and ask them "What do I need to add to my SPF Record", or alternatively try googling for "Office 365 SPF Record", or "BombBomb SPF Record", to be linked straight to the right page. 
 
When you're ready to make changes - guides for a few of the usual suspects are linked below:
 
If you're still stuck, pop your email address into the form on the right, further up this page (so we can check your SPF record), and we'll get in touch to get it fixed ASAP. 
 

6 | Is it up to date? 

Great, you have an SPF record, but is it up to date?
 
If you have recently signed up for a new system that sends emails on your behalf then you need to update your SPF record by adding that service.