It depends! Understanding where a website is hosted versus where emails with the same domain name are hosted is very important. If your website and email are both hosted by the same company, then it’s likely that the hosting company will take care of everything for you so that there is no disruption with inbound or outbound emails when launching a new website.
However, let’s say that your customer hosts their email with one of many email hosting providers, and you are preparing to launch a new website that is hosted by another company such as SiteGround. Is it possible to have your email hosted by one provider and your website by another? Sure! You just need to configure some settings so that inbound emails know where to go upon launching the website (outbound emails will continue working fine, but inbound emails need to know where to be routed).
Back to our story. Let’s say that your customer’s domain registrar is GoDaddy, they host their email on iPage, and the new website you just created for them is hosted on SiteGround. Furthermore, let’s assume that the website you created is your customer’s very first one, but they’ve been using email for years. This likely means that their domain on GoDaddy is currently pointing to nameservers on iPage. Nameservers basically route internet traffic (URLs and email) to the correct servers…so they are important!
When launching your customer’s new website, you will update the domain on GoDaddy to point to the nameservers on SiteGround. That way, when someone follows your customer’s website URL, the request will go to the SiteGround web server where your customer’s website resides. However, inbound emails will also go to SiteGround since that’s where the the domain is now pointing…and this is a problem since your customer’s emails are hosted by iPage, not SiteGround. Unless you change a configuration, inbound emails that use your customer’s domain will be lost upon launching the new website.
What needs to be configured so that inbound emails go to the right place? MX records! MX stands for “Mail Exchanger” and MX records tell the Internet world which mail server(s) to route incoming emails based on your customer’s domain. MX records are configured on the host where your nameservers reside. In our example, the host is SiteGround since that is where the website lives. SiteGound includes configuration tools that allow you to create new MX records. Typically, a mail hosting company will provide multiple mail servers for redundancy and load balancing purposes, and you will create an MX record for each one. You can get the fully qualified domain names (FQDN) of the mail servers from your customer’s mail hosting company. Once you have the FQDNs you can create the MX records, which will route incoming emails to the correct mail servers.
Let me know if you found this article helpful or if you have additional information and/or experiences to contribute!