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I need to find out what provider is providing emails for a domain (like I know I can find the provider for hosting a domain but how can I find out about emails for a domain?

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migrated from Aug 30 '11 at 4:43

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

You have two options (tested with windows ports, will check other versions when I get into work tomorrow):


C:\>host | grep mail mail is handled by 40 mail is handled by 50 mail is handled by 10 mail is handled by 20 mail is handled by 30


C:\>dig mx | grep MX | awk 'FNR>1'             294     IN      MX      30             294     IN      MX      40             294     IN      MX      50             294     IN      MX      10             294     IN      MX      20

These will give you the domain of the servers that mail is hosted from. The numbers in front (10,20,30,40,50) are the priority of the server. The commands basically report where the DNS records that handle mail (MX) are pointed to.

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First, find an address for the mail server. nslookup isn't the greatest, but it comes with most Windows versions and many other OSes:

Default Server:
Address: x.x.x.x

> set type=MX

Non-authoritative answer:      MX preference = 40, mail exchanger =      MX preference = 10, mail exchanger =      MX preference = 30, mail exchanger =      MX preference = 20, mail exchanger =      MX preference = 50, mail exchanger = internet address =      internet address = internet address = internet address = internet address =

Once you know some server IP addresses, then you can pick one and look it up in a whois client, or using one of the many web-based whois services (e.g. to find out what netblocks the address is in and who they are registered to.

Usually you'll get many matching netblocks, as big netblocks are subdivided into smaller netblocks, and those are subdivided into even smaller netblocks, etc.; Look for the smallest one (the one with the least number of addresses in the range) to get the most specific info on who the address belongs to.


NetRange: -


NetType:        Allocated to ARIN

... x.0.0.0 - x.255.255.255? That's a lot of addresses. And it's registered to the addressing authority itself. Doesn't tell us anything useful.

NetRange: -
NetName:        GOOGLE
NetHandle:      NET-74-125-0-0-1
Parent:         NET-74-0-0-0-0
NetType:        Direct Allocation
RegDate:        2007-03-13
Updated:        2007-05-22

OrgName:        Google Inc.
OrgId:          GOGL
Address:        1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
City:           Mountain View
StateProv:      CA
PostalCode:     94043
Country:        US
RegDate:        2000-03-30
Updated:        2011-04-10

OrgTechHandle: ZG39-ARIN
OrgTechName:   Google Inc
OrgTechPhone:  +1-650-253-0000 

There we go.

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If you know the dns source of authority for the domain (probably the hosting provider), you can use dig with the mx flag:

dig mx

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The provider is what I am trying to figure out. How so you figure out the dns source? I only have the domain name and an email address to go off of. – user31673 Aug 29 '11 at 22:51
You can query google's dns server to get that, and skip the step with the mx flag if you use any: dig @ any – steveax Aug 29 '11 at 22:59

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