Ask the Expert

Receiving 'failed MX lookup' delivery status notification

I am having problems receiving email from outside our local area network (LAN). Also, it often takes a long time for recipients to receive email sent from the company.

Here is an example of the delayed delivery status notification I'm getting:

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Your message has been enqueued and undeliverable for 1 day to the following recipients:

Recipient address: username@watertowne.com
Reason: unable to deliver this message after 1 day

Delivery attempt history for your mail:

Fri, 19 Jan 2007 00:24:55 -0700 (MST)
Failed MX lookup; try again later

Thu, 18 Jan 2007 04:18:07 -0700 (MST)
TCP active open: Failed gethostbyname() on mail.watertowne.com, resolver errno = 2

Thu, 18 Jan 2007 02:16:15 -0700 (MST)
Failed MX lookup; try again later

Thu, 18 Jan 2007 00:16:15 -0700 (MST)
Failed MX lookup; try again later

... repeated back to tue.

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I've been looking on the Web for the last four hours trying to find a way to fix the failed MX lookup, but I am new to this and I haven't been able to find a simple answer to this delayed delivery problem.

I have seen that it could be related to DNS lookup, the MX record or even a possible router failure. Can you help?

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It sounds to me like your domain doesn't have an MX record set up (or set up properly). Contact your service provider or whoever is hosting your public DNS and ensure that this is done, then test again.

Do you have comments on this Ask the Expert Q&A? Let us know.

Related information from SearchExchange.com:

  • Expert Advice: How to troubleshoot problems receiving external email
  • Tutorial: A primer on DNS and MX records
  • Learning Center: A crash course in DNS
  • Reference Center: Microsoft Exchange Server and DNS resources
  • This was first published in August 2007

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