Domains FAQ

This article contains answers to Frequently Asked Questions about domains in Office 365.

If you can't find an answer to your question, let us know by leaving a comment and we'll add it to the list.

Last Updated: 3/28/2018

What is MX priority?

Mail is delivered to the mail exchange server with the lowest preference number (highest priority), so the MX record you use for mail routing should have the lowest preference number, typically 0 or High priority.

  • When you create an MX record, most DNS hosting providers require you to set the preference number.

  • Some label the box preference, and some label it priority.

  • Some require a number, and some ask you to select Low, Medium, or High.

  • If you only have one MX record, any value is fine for priority or preference.

  • If you have more than one, make sure the MX record for mail routing is higher priority than the one used for validating that you own the domain.

How can I validate SPF records for my domain?

It's important that you have or create only one TXT record for SPF. If you already have an SPF record, you should append the new Office 365 values to it, rather than create a new one. After you've added or updated your SPF record for Office 365 email, you should check to make sure that the syntax is correct with one of these tools:

How does Office 365 manage my DNS records?

There are two options for DNS management with Office 365:

  1. You change your nameserver (NS) records, and then Office 365 takes care of all the service-specific records, like setting up your MX record for email. (Recommended)

  2. You add DNS records for email and other Office 365 services at your DNS host yourself. (Experts only)

1:  Office 365 creates and hosts the DNS records

 2: You manage the DNS records yourself

Advantages

  • You don’t have to worry about making mistakes in the values you enter for the DNS records for Office 365 services.

  • You have more flexibility in your choice of domain registrar and DNS host. Any provider that lets you change your nameserver records will work, even if the provider doesn’t support all the required record types.

  • When Office 365 adds new DNS records, you don’t have to make updates.

Disadvantages

  • You can’t change your DNS records to host email outside of Office 365.

  • If you already use a public website with your domain for its address, like www.fourthcoffee.com, you must redirect people to that address from Office 365. Setting up redirection requires a static IP address, which is not always easily available for public websites.

  • If your current domain registrar doesn’t allow you to change your domain's nameserver records, you have to switch to a different registrar to use this DNS management option.

Advantages

  • You control the DNS records for Office 365 services.

  • If you have a public website with your domain for its address, like www.fourthcoffee.com, you don't have to worry about using redirection to make sure people can still get to your website after you set up your domain in Office 365.

  • You have the flexibility to host email somewhere else, such as with an on-premises Exchange server.

Disadvantages

  • You have to set up the DNS records for Office 365 services yourself (unless you have a GoDaddy domain).

  • If your current DNS host doesn’t support all of the required record types for Office 365, some Office 365 features won’t be available and you might need to switch to a different DNS host. Learn about the potential service limitations.

  • When Office 365 changes requirements for DNS records, or adds new services, you have to make updates yourself at your DNS host.

What is a domain name?

A domain is a unique name that appears after the @ sign in email addresses, and after www. in web addresses. It typically takes the form of your organization's name and a standard Internet suffix, such as yourbusiness.com or stateuniversity.edu.

Using a custom domain like "rob@contoso.com" with Office 365 can help build credibility and recognition for your brand.

You can buy a domain in Office 365 and we'll set it up automatically, or you can buy or bring one you already own from a domain registrar.

Can I transfer my domain away from Office 365 to another provider?

Yes, but you can't transfer an Office 365 domain to another registrar until 60 days after you registered it with Office 365.

Follow the steps below to get the code at Office 365, and then go to the other domain registrar's website to set up transferring your domain name to that registrar.

  1. In the Admin center, go to the Domains page, or choose Setup > Domains.

    If you're using Office 365 Germany, go to this Domains page.

    If you're using Office 365 operated by 21Vianet, go to this Domains page.

  2. On the Domains page, choose the Office 365 domain that you want to transfer to another domain registrar, and choose Domain settings.

  3. Under Privacy Setting, choose Enable domain transfer.

  4. Follow the steps to prepare for transferring your domain.

  5. After you get the code, go to the website of the domain registrar where you want to manage your domain name going forward and follow their directions for transferring a domain (search for help on their website).

  6. If you need to see the code again, on the Domain settings page in Office 365, choose View authorization code for domain transfer.

  7. After the transfer is complete, you'll renew your domain at the new domain registrar.

  8. To finish the process, go back to the Admin center Domains page and choose Complete Domain Transfer.

How do I change how my DNS records are managed in Office 365?

Change DNS management to a DNS host outside Office 365

  1. Change your nameservers:

    1. Sign in to the domain registrar for your domain.

    2. Find the area on the registrar's website where you update nameserver records, and update the nameservers to point to your domain's DNS host. (The DNS host is often the domain registrar.)

  2. Follow a link to go to the domains setup wizard:

    1. In the Admin center, go to the Domains page, or choose Setup > Domains.

      If you're using Office 365 Germany, go to this Domains page.

      If you're using Office 365 operated by 21Vianet, go to this Domains page.

    2. On the Domains page, choose the domain you're switching, and choose DNS Management.

  3. Choose the option to manage your domain's DNS records:

    1. In the domains setup wizard, on the Set up your online services page, choose I'll manage my own DNS records, and then choose Next.

    2. Add the DNS records suggested by the wizard on the Update DNS settings page to your registrars website.

    3. After you've added the records, come back to Office 365 and choose Verify.

Change DNS management to Office 365

  1. Follow a link to go to the domains setup wizard:

    1. In the Admin center, go to the Domains page, or choose Setup > Domains.

      If you're using Office 365 Germany, go to this Domains page.

      If you're using Office 365 operated by 21Vianet, go to this Domains page.

    2. On the Domains page, choose the domain you're switching, and choose DNS Management.

  2. Choose the option to manage your domain's DNS records:

    1. In the domains setup wizard, on the Set up your online services page, choose Set up my online services for me. (Recommended), and then choose Next.

    2. If you haven't verified the domain yet, follow the steps to do that first.

    3. On the Update DNS settings page, we list the nameservers for Office 365. Go to the domain registrar for your domain, and update the nameservers to the Office 365 nameservers.

    4. After you've updated the nameservers, wait at least an hour. Then, back in the wizard in Office 365, choose Verify.

What happens if my DNS provider doesn't support certain record types?

If you manage your own DNS records and your DNS host does not support all the DNS records that Office 365 needs, some Office 365 features won’t work. We recommend that you transfer your domain to a registrar that supports all required DNS records.

Providers that support all required DNS records:

  • Dynadot

  • eNomCentral

  • Europe Registry

  • GoDaddy

  • Hover

  • MyHosting.com

  • Name.com

  • Nearly Free Speech

  • Nettica

  • Network Information Center (NIC)

  • Network Solutions

  • Register.com

If SRV records are not supported, the following Office 365 features are not available:

  • Skype for Business Online IM and presence integration with Outlook Web App

  • External communication (federation) with Skype for Business Online users in other organizations.

  • Public Internet Connectivity (PIC) with Skype for Business Online users signed in with a Microsoft account (formerly known as a Windows Live ID).

If multiple CNAME records are not supported, you have to choose between the following features for Skype for Business Online:

  • Email desktop clients and mobile clients can use Autodiscover to automatically find the Exchange Online service so that users can sign in without having to enter a server name.

  • Skype for Business Online desktop clients can use Autodiscover to automatically find the Skype for Business Online service so that users can sign in without having to enter a server name.

  • Skype for Business Online mobile clients can use Autodiscover to automatically find the Skype for Business Online service so that users can sign in without having to enter a server name.

If SPF/TXT records are not supported, other people may be able to use your domain to send spam or other malicious email. SPF records work by identifying the servers that are authorized to send email from your domain.

How do I change the default domain in Office 365?

You must have at least one custom domain that you've added to Office 365 before you can choose a default domain.

  1. In the Admin center, go to the Domains page, or choose Setup > Domains.

    If you're using Office 365 Germany, go to this Domains page.

    If you're using Office 365 operated by 21Vianet, go to this Domains page.

  2. On the Domains page, choose the domain you want to set as the default for new email addresses.

  3. Choose Set as default.

You cannot change the name of your initial .onmicrosoft.com domain.

You cannot change the name of your initial .onmicrosoft.de domain.

You cannot change the name of your initial .partner.onmschina.cn domain.

Can I add custom subdomains or multiple domains to Office 365?

Yes! To add subdomains, you must manage your own DNS settings at your registrar's website. If you are letting Microsoft manage your DNS settings with NS records, you can't add subdomains.

Yes! To add subdomains, you must manage your own DNS settings at your registrar's website. If you are letting Microsoft manage your DNS settings with NS records, you can't add subdomains.

Yes! To add subdomains, you must manage your own DNS settings at your registrar's website. If you are letting 21Vianet manage your DNS settings with NS records, you can't add subdomains.

Typically, you can add up to 900 domains to your Office 365 subscription.

For example, you could add the domains contoso.com and contosomarketing.com, and then add the subdomains www.contoso.com, www.partners.contoso.com, www.partners.marketing.contoso.com, and so on.

When you add a subdomain, it is automatically verified based on the parent domain that is being verified.

When you add multiple domains to Office 365, you can host any of the services (like email) on any of the domains you've added. When you change your email to Office 365, by updating a domain's MX record, ALL email sent to that domain will start coming to Office 365.

Why do I have an "onmicrosoft.com" domain?

Office 365 creates a domain for you, like contoso.onmicrosoft.com, when you sign up with the service. The user ID that you create when you sign up includes the domain, like alan@contoso.onmicrosoft.com.

If you want to have your email look like alan@contoso.com: buy the domain or just follow the steps in Add your users and domain to Office 365 if you own it already.

  • You can’t rename the onmicrosoft domain after sign-up. For example, if the initial domain you chose was fourthcoffee.onmicrosoft.com, you can’t change it to be fabrikam.onmicrosoft.com. To use a different onmicrosoft.com domain, you’d have to start a new subscription with Office 365.

  • You can't rename your team site URL. Your team site URL is based on your onmicrosoft.com domain name. Unfortunately, because of the way SharePoint Online architecture works, you can't rename the team site.

  • You can't remove your onmicrosoft domain.Office 365 needs to keep it around because it's used behind the scenes for your subscription. But you don’t have to use the domain yourself after you’ve added a custom domain.

You can keep using the initial onmicrosoft.com domain even after you add your domain. It still works for email and other services, so it's your choice.

Why do I have an "onmicrosoft.de" domain?

Office 365 creates a domain for you, like contoso.onmicrosoft.de, when you sign up with the service. The user ID that you create when you sign up includes the domain, like alan@contoso.onmicrosoft.de.

If you want to have your email look like alan@contoso.de: buy the domain or just follow the steps in Add your users and domain to Office 365 if you own it already.

  • You can’t rename the onmicrosoft domain after sign-up. For example, if the initial domain you chose was fourthcoffee.onmicrosoft.de, you can’t change it to be fabrikam.onmicrosoft.de. To use a different onmicrosoft.de domain, you’d have to start a new subscription with Office 365.

  • You can't rename your team site URL. Your team site URL is based on your onmicrosoft.de domain name.Unfortunately, because of the way SharePoint Online architecture works, you can't rename the team site.

  • You can't remove your onmicrosoft domain.Office 365 needs to keep it around because it's used behind the scenes for your subscription. But you don’t have to use the domain yourself after you’ve added a custom domain.

You can keep using the initial onmicrosoft.de domain even after you add your domain. It still works for email and other services, so it's your choice.

How do I verify my nonprofit or education status?

  1. Choose Setup in the Office 365 admin center to start the wizard. (Be sure to sign in to Office 365 first.)

  2. To become the Office 365 admin for your school, follow these steps to find and choose the Become an admin option in Office 365.

  3. You'll be prompted to add a TXT DNS record at the DNS host website for your domain. Why? Because by signing in at the DNS host and adding a record for your domain, you prove to Office 365 that you own the domain name.

  4. After you add the record, you'll go back to the Office 365 portal and confirm that you've added it, so Office 365 can check.

Have a nonprofit and want to get Office 365? Make sure your organization qualifies and then sign up for the service.

Want to know more about becoming the Office 365 admin for your school? Learn all about it.

Can I pilot Office 365 with just a few email addresses from my custom domain?

You can, but there are limitations:

  • Your current email provider must provide email forwarding.

  • You need to manage your Office 365-related DNS records at your DNS hosting provider, rather than having Office 365 manage these records for you. To learn what this entails, see Add your domain to Office 365 when you want to manage your own DNS records.

  • Some Office 365 features won’t be available:

  • Users won’t be able to see free/busy information for the users who are on the other email provider.

  • Admins won’t be able to administer everyone’s accounts from one place.

  • Users may not be able to use Office 365 spam filtering

  1. Sign in to the Office 365 admin center

    1. Sign in to Office 365 with your work or school account.

    2. Choose Setup > Domains.

  2. Verify that you own the domain you want to use

    1. On the Domains page, choose Add domain.

    2. In the panel, type the domain, in this example cohowinery.com, and then choose Next.

    3. On the Verify domain page, follow the step-by-step instructions.

    4. In the drop-down list, select your DNS hosting provider, and follow the instructions to show that you own the domain.

    5. Choose Verify. It takes between a few minutes and 72 hours for DNS changes to take effect.

    6. When verification is successful, you'll be asked to modify your DNS records.

  3. Mark the domain as shared in Exchange Online

    1. Go to the Exchange admin center (EAC).

    2. In EAC, in the Mail flow section, click Accepted domains.

    3. Double-click the domain you want to modify.

    4. In the window that opens, select Internal Relay.

    5. Click Save. This setting may require a few minutes to take effect.

  4. Optionally, unblock the existing email server

    1. Office 365 uses Exchange Online Protection (EOP) for spam protection. If EOP detects a high volume of spam being forwarded by your current mail server, it may block it, which would prevent forwarding from working. If you are confident with the spam protection your other email provider uses, you can whitelist their server in Office 365. However, this will also allow any spam that arrives through your original server to come through to the Office 365 mailboxes, and you won't be able to evaluate how well Office 365 prevents spam.

    2. Go to Exchange admin center (EAC).

    3. In EAC, choose Protection, and then choose Connection filter.

    4. In the IP Allow list, choose +, and add the mail server IP address that you can get from your current email provider.

  5. Create user accounts and set the primary (reply-to) address

    1. Go to the Office 365 admin center.

    2. On the left navigation bar, choose Users > Active Users.

    3. Create the user accounts.

    4. For each account choose + (New), and fill out the required information.

    5. To keep user's email the same as it is currently, the User name field should be exactly the same as the user's existing email address.

    6. Next to User name, select your custom domain name from the drop-down list.

    7. Choose Create > Close.

  6. Update DNS records at your DNS hosting provider

    1. Sign in to your DNS hosting provider’s website, and follow the Create DNS records at any DNS hosting provider for Office 365 steps. Make the following exceptions:

      1. Do not create a new MX record or change your existing MX record.

      2. If you already have a Sender Policy Framework (SPF) record for your previous email provider, instead of creating a new SPF (TXT) record for Exchange Online, just add "include:outlook.com" to the current TXT record. For example, “v=spf1 mx include:adatum.com include:spf.protection.outlook.com ~all”.

      3. If you don’t have an SPF record yet, modify the one recommended by Office 365 to include the domain for your current email provider, plus protection.outlook.com. This authorizes outgoing messages from both email systems.

  7. Set up email forwarding at your current provider

    1. At your current email provider, set up forwarding for your users email accounts to your onmicrosoft.com domain:

    2. User A's mailbox should forward to usera@yourcompany.onmicrosoft.com

    3. User B's mailbox should forward to userb@yourcompany.onmicrosoft.com

    4. When you complete this step:

    5. All mail sent to usera@yourcompany.com and userb@yourcompany.com will be available in Office 365.

    6. Notes:

      1. Contact your current email provider for the exact steps for setting up forwarding.

      2. You don’t need to keep a copy of messages at the current email provider.

      3. Most providers forward email leaving the Reply-to address of the sender intact, so that replies go to the original sender.

  8. Test mail flow

    1. Sign in to Outlook Web App using User A's credentials.

    2. Perform the following tests:

    3. Test local Office 365 email. For example, send an email to User B. This email should be delivered immediately. In this scenario, the message will not be routed to User B's mailbox on your original server because Office 365 sees the mailbox as being local.

    4. Test email to someone who's on the other email system. For example, send an email to User C. This email should be delivered to User C’s mailbox on your original mail server.

    5. From an outside account, or from an employee’s email account on the other email system, verify that forwarding is set up properly on the other email system. For example, from User C's origninal server account or a Hotmail account, send User A an email and verify that it arrives in User A’s Office 365 mailbox.

  9. Move mailbox contents

    1. Since there are only two users to move, and since User A and User B are both using Outlook already, the email can be moved by opening the old .PST file in the new Outlook profile and copying the messages, calendar items, contacts, etc. as shown in Import Outlook items from an Outlook Data File (.pst). Once organized in the proper locations in the Office 365 mailbox, the items can all be accessed from any device, anywhere.

    2. When more mailboxes are involved, or if the employees are not already using Outlook, you can use the migration tools available in the Exchange admin center. To get started, go to Exchange admin center and follow the directions in Migrate Email from an IMAP Server to Exchange Online Mailboxes.

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