I have a website and looking to migrate to use Google Apps for my email. But the thing is that I'm currently using Earthlink as my mail provider for my domain name. This also goes for using Earthlink as my domain registrar too. So I basically have everything there. I just want to only migrate my mail service to google apps safely without disruption. I know I have to change my MX records in the DNS settings.

I'm not sure but how do I make earthlink as a failback MX server if the Google Apps doesnt link up right away? I dont want to risk losing any mail.

What I dont understand is why is there so many MX records? And what are the numbers in front of it mean? Does that mean priority on which one to goto if the other ones dont work?

Below I have my dns settings:

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  • This question may be too broad for a single answer. The MX records define all of the e-mail SMTP servers available to receive e-mail for your domain. The number in the MX record basically defines the priority (lack of the proper term) where 10 is preferred over 100. It, in effect, defines the preferred order where a sending SMTP server would try to connect to a receiving server.
    – closetnoc
    Apr 23, 2015 at 22:57
  • so its safe to add in the gmail servers at 130+ as a fall back ? Apr 23, 2015 at 23:00
  • I would not split-up your e-mail on two networks/providers personally. It adds confusion and a scale of difficulty that would just likely mess you up. I would pick one or the other.
    – closetnoc
    Apr 23, 2015 at 23:03
  • but what is the best approach? add in the google apps mx servers first then delete the old servers.... or delete the old servers and then add in the google servers? i just dont want an interruption in mail service. Apr 24, 2015 at 0:00
  • Set-up your new account for your e-mail server. Add the MX records when you are sure it is working. You may want tech support to help. Raise the priority of the new provider by setting the MX records to 10, 20, etc. Lower the old provider to 100, 110, etc. When you are sure that everything is working okay, then remove the MX records of the old provider. But do this as quickly as possible by having a friend send you e-mail from their account on another network entirely (not new or old) as not to confuse success. It may take a while for DNS to propagate so you may want a 24- 72 hour overlap.
    – closetnoc
    Apr 24, 2015 at 0:34

1 Answer 1


To answer the first part of your question the numbers in front of the addresses in the MX records are the priorities for which the mail servers should be connected to. First attempts to mx records with a 10 priority, then 20, and so on.

When migrating email servers best practice is to setup the new email server, change your DNS records, but keep the old email server running for at least 72 hours for DNS changes to propagate all over the internet before switching it off. It is easy enough in most mail clients to download emails from multiple POP3 servers even if they have the same email address on two separate servers. The only thing to be sure of is once the DNS records and the new email server are setup to ensure all outbound emails go through the new server while the old server is in the process if being decommissioned.

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