How to merge or update existing SPF records

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In email authentication, the SPF record specifies which mail servers are authorized to send emails on behalf of a domain. With ActiveCampaign, when you set up your sending domain, this process includes setting up the correct SPF records for you. This means you don't need to create an SPF record or modify an existing one to work with ActiveCampaign.

However, manually setting up ActiveCampaign SPF records for your From domain has some benefits, even though it isn't required for SPF to pass. Learn more about SPF in our Understanding SPF and how it impacts email deliverability guide.

If you still want to set up your SPF record manually, you must adhere to specific rules. One of the most important rules about SPF records is that you can only have one. Having two or more SPF records is incorrect and can cause issues.

This article explains how to manually update or merge your SPF records if you have an existing SPF record.

How to add ActiveCampaign’s include (include:emsd1.com) to an existing SPF record?

If you already have an SPF record and need to add another sender (ActiveCampaign, for example), add the provided “include” to the existing record instead of creating a new one. 

For example, if this is your current SPF record:

v=spf1 include:_spf.google.com -all

You just have to add include:emsd1.com within the record itself:

v=spf1 include:_spf.google.com include:emsd1.com -all

Please note:

  • The new string has to be added before the -all part
  • Make sure not to add any unnecessary space (each string is separated by a single space)
  • Make sure the record begins with v=spf1

How to merge existing SPF records?

A domain can only have one SPF record. If you have two or more records, you can merge them into a single SPF record. This means you could either delete both of the records and create a brand new one containing the information from both records or update one and delete the other SPF records.

For example, if these are your SPF records:

v=spf1 ip4:20.33.1.86/32 include:_spf.google.com -all

v=spf1 include:emsd1.com -all

You can delete one of them and edit the other so that it includes information for both of them:

v=spf1 include:emsd1.com ip4:20.33.1.86/32 include:_spf.google.com -all

Please note:

  • Sometimes, the existing SPF record may have different "qualifiers" on the "all" mechanism: -all, ~all, ?all, +all. The recommended choice here is to use either ~all or -all
  • Merging or updating an SPF record is the perfect opportunity to tidy it up. Please remove any legacy includes or strings that you know are no longer used
  • Since the record is evaluated "from left to right", ensure to place your most used includes first.
  • There is a limited number of includes that can be used within an SPF record (10 lookup limits). The previous points might help address this scenario
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