Breaking up isn’t hard to do: splitting services

We know that a domain name is like an address book, so let’s introduce you to it’s two, basic records. The A record stores the IP of the server on which your website is located; the MX record points to the email server. We already know what my domain name’s A record is: in this case, its MX record is also the website and email services are handled by the same server. That’s very common, but far from compulsory. In a fairly common scenario, you could find yourself having registered your domain name with GoDaddy, hosting your website with Fasthosts, but your email via Google.

Off the peg, domain email services can be pretty limited. A common thing to want to do is delegate the website service to one service provider, but email to another. I’ve helped several clients use Google Workspace (formerly G Suite), for example.

The route to customizing your A and MX records will depend upon your current control panel layout. This isn’t the place to model the likely scenarios: we would get lost in the hypotheticals, and let’s remember, we’re trying to reduce confusion!

In your domain control panel you’ll be looking for a page or tab labelled something like Advanced Domain Settings or Advanced DNS. You’ll come to a list of records, at least one labelled A and another MX. Don’t be surprised if there are more than 1 each, or if there are other types of record, like TXT. Feel free to have a look, but be cautious about hitting any edit buttons. Making a mistake could mean you temporarily stop getting visits to your website, or email disappears until it’s corrected (lost email would be completely lost in such a case).