SPF-/Sender ID-configuration guide

Posted by Jeff Rasmussen. Last updated: Fri, Oct 11, 2013

Several large email providers use SPF and Sender ID in order to validate the sender of an email. Both mechanisms use the same data base in order to validate, i.e. SPF data from DNS. Validation is used in order to ensure that an email received from a company is indeed the company that sent the email.

Technical information about senders

An email has two senders - the one your subscriber sees can be defined by you in Ubivox under List settings while the other, the technical sender (envelope sender) is defined, automatically, by Ubivox.

This setting can be compared to a letter which has a sender on the outside of an envelope, for example, Bank of England - London while the letter itself has a different sender, i.e. your personal financial advisor.

The technical sender (the sender on the envelope) is used, for example, when the subscriber of an email cannot be found, i.e. a so called bounce. In this circumstance the email is returned to the technical sender.

If this occurs Ubivox registers the bounce and removes the subscriber from the list.

The other sender address is in the email and can be seen by your subscriber in his/her email program. If your receiver answers your email it will be send to this email as well.

This is the sender address you can define in Ubivox.

Technical information about SPF and Sender ID

The difference between SPF and Sender ID is what sender address the receiver's e-mail server inspects once it validates an e-mail.

  • SPF: The receiving email server inspects the technical sender that is controlled by Ubivox. Ubivox always keeps this configuration up to date.

  • Sender ID: The receiving email server inspects the sender address that has been defined by you in Ubivox

If you configure SPF at the domain you use as sender address then problems may occur in relation to receiving emails from Ubivox as Ubivox does not appear as a permitted sender in this SPF-configuration.

Therefore you have to ensure that Ubivox’s outgoing email servers are included in your SPF configuration.

Sender ID is usually used by Microsoft controlled configurations. This means that Hotmail, and companies that use Microsoft Exchange solutions controls the SPF configuration for the sender address.

Configuring SPF for Sender ID

SPF configuration is, as mentioned earlier, to be made at the domain you use as sender. In order to allow you to, easily, maintain the configuration, we recommend that you use the include mechanism in SPF.

By using it you are able to include our general SPF domain, which includes all the operating outgoing e-mail servers we use.

In praxis, it is done by adding the following to your SPF configuration:

v=spf1 include:spf.ubivox.com -all

If you need help during the configuration, your technician or your operator will be able to help you with the process.

You can view a guide to the SPF-format here.

Check your Sender ID-result

Ubivox gives you the possibility of, at list level, controlling how the Sender ID control of your SPF-configuration is doing. Click at Lists & Subscribers > List and chose your list.

Click List menu > Sender ID - here you will find the result of the check. We check your sender domain and validate whether or not the SPF configuration exists and if it includes Ubivox.

Explanation of results

You are able to see one of the following results:

  • none/neutral: There is no SPF configuration on the domain. Hence there is no problem delivering your emails.

  • pass: There is an SPF configuration on the domain and it includes Ubivox as an approved sender. There is no problem delivering your e-mails.

  • softfail: There is an SPF configuration at the domain and it does not include Ubivox as an approved sender. However, SPF states that the domain is in a test mode and emails are therefore not rejected but has to be marked by failures.

  • fail: There is an SPF-configuration at the domain and it does not include Ubivox as an approved sender. E-mails are rejected by operators that use Sender ID.

If you receive fail or softfail we encourage you to edit the SPF configuration so it includes Ubivox as an approved sender.

Please note

Changes in the SPF configuration does not take effect immediately. If you have changed the SPF configuration and Ubivox still reports failures, you have to wait a couple of days and check it again.

What next?

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About the author

Jeff Rasmussen
Communications Officer

Adept at strategic communication, especially external. Handles the Ubivox LinkedIn profile and marketing campaigns.

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