What is SPF, DKIM and DMARC?

SPF, DKIM, and DMARC are different email authentication protocols. They help to prove to the receiving servers that the senders are legitimate. If you want your emails to be delivered, it's best to set up all three.

Let's take a closer look at these protocols and what they do.

SPF

SPF stands for Sender Policy Framework. This protocol provides the receiving server with a list of IP addresses allowed to send emails from this domain. The receiver checks the records to see if the sending server is listed. The receiver will most likely flag the email as spam if it's not.

SPF is a return address on an envelope: the recipient is more likely to open the letter if he knows where it came from.

DKIM

DKIM stands for DomainKeys Identified Mail. Its primary purpose is to show the receiving server that the contents of the email have not been tampered with and the sender's email address is not fake. By attaching DKIM signatures to your email, you allow the recipient to verify that you sent it. A pair of electronic keys created by DKIM helps build trust between the sending and receiving servers.

DKIM is sending your letter via Certified Email. The recipient knows that the envelope was delivered directly to him, and no one could tamper with its contents.

DMARC

DMARC stands for Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance. The DMARC protocol uses the SPF and DKIM records and builds on them to confirm the sender’s identity. It ensures that the email is protected by SPF and DKIM and tells the receiving server what to do if those authentication methods do not pass. DMARC also allows the receiver to report the results back to the sender.

DMARC is having a trustworthy courier deliver the envelope. The courier will make sure that no one else touches the letter and will be able to tell you if something goes wrong.

Do we need to use all three protocols?

More and more email providers and ISPs require all three protocols by the day, so we strongly recommend you do this. You can follow our guides to learn how to set up SPF, DKIM, and DMARC.

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