How to setup a backup mail server for a business

Email is a really important part of any organisation. It is the most used means of communication both within an organisation and outside it. In big enterprises, hundreds of emails are sent every second! This shows how important Emails are for a businesses. This piques a question within business owners and employees that what will happen when due to some reason, the outgoing email server of an organisation breaks down or is taken down for maintenance? Emails are such an integral part of an organisation, it cannot be risked to shut down the outgoing email servers, but no server can guarantee one hundred percent uptime and when the email server goes down, it can cause huge losses to the company.

This is where a backup mail server comes to the rescue. A backup mail server is a server which is used to temporarily queue outgoing emails in the case when the primary email server faces downtime. It uses an MX record to temporarily redirect the emails to a secondary backup mail server where it is queued until the outgoing smtp server is back online.  


What is an MX Record?  

 MX record stands for Mail Exchange Records and it is a record in the Domain Name System (DNS) database which routes the incoming and outgoing emails to their respective servers from the mail clients. One can create more than one Mail Exchange record in the DNS for email routing.

The ability to set multiple mail exchange records enables us to set up a backup mail server along with the primary mail server. Further, you also have the option to set priorities to the mail exchange records so you can give

  • a higher priority to the primary server and
  • a lower priority to the backup server.

The sending server determines which receiving server to send the mail to for any domain by looking it up in the mail exchange records according to the priorities.  


Why should you set up multiple MX records?   

Businesses constantly worry about the event when their incoming or outgoing SMTP server goes offline as there is no guarantee that any server can be online for twenty four hours for seven days a week constantly. When the server goes down, all of the outgoing mails will not be sent and incoming emails will not be received, this can cause huge losses to the businesses.                                         

A good solution to this problem is to set up a backup email server for the primary mail server to make sure that no emails are lost in the event where the primary email server is offline due to a breakdown or maintenance issues. This can be implemented by changing the mail exchange records in the domain name system database for your company’s domain.  

As mentioned earlier, you can set a higher priority to the primary email server and a lower   priority to the backup email server so that whenever the primary email server is down, the emails are stored and queued in the backup mail server and as soon as the primary mail  server goes back up, the emails are delivered to it as normal .                                                    

Third Party MX Backup Service

There are third party MX backup services available which can be used in case of primary email server outages. They store and queue your emails for more than thirty days and once the primary server goes back up, the emails are sent to the primary server instantly in the order in which they were received in the backup server.                                     

The third party email backup services use industry grade servers and usually use servers from google cloud platform or microsoft azure to store your emails so it is guaranteed to be a safe backup location for your emails. Moreover, you can also opt for an email backup solution with webmail which will allow you to read and respond to emails from the backup mail server while the primary email server is offline.                                       

Mail backup services also constitutes email archiving solutions which are used in organisations to archive their emails. Email Archiving solutions are used to store and index incoming and outgoing emails of an organisation. This is a really important service for a business since it is required to search within emails for specific terms on a daily basis and email archiving services indexes emails to an email archive so that you can search between them easily. It is also used in backing up email attachments for future use.


Email is an important component for any business and is essential for the smooth functioning of organisations. This is why having a backup in case of malfunctioning of the primary email servers is a wise choice. A backup mail server stores the incoming and outgoing emails and queues them in the order in which they are sent or received and ensures smooth delivery of emails in case of the primary email server going down for maintenance or in case of breakdowns. Enterprises often hire third party online email backup solutions which sends and receives emails in case of emergencies. They also come with webmail features which is used to view and reply to emails from the backup mail server while the primary mail server is down.

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