If you’re employed in the corporate world or run your own business, you likely rely on emails as part of your daily routine. Email scams, phishing attacks, and spammy emails are quite common these days, so you cannot compromise the safety of your email security.

Maintaining a cohesive Sender Policy Framework (SPF) is paramount for effective email delivery and security.

Discover how to simplify your email infrastructure and enhance deliverability by merging multiple SPF records. In this article, we’ll explore merging SPF records into one single record.

From understanding the basics of SPF records to optimizing your domain’s DNS settings, we’ll guide you through the process for smoother email authentication. Continue reading to learn more.

Understanding SPF Records

Person deep in thought while using a laptop, considering the issue of multiple SPF records for a domainCourtesy of Canva / PerfectWave

The Sender Policy Framework (SPF) serves as a means to authenticate the origin of an email sender. By employing an SPF record, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) can validate whether a particular mail server is authorized to dispatch emails on behalf of a specific domain.

Implementing an SPF record not only aids in averting the classification of your emails as spam by external servers but also ensures their smooth delivery to your intended recipients.  An SPF record is a TXT record within a DNS zone file.

It functions as a roster, enumerating all authorized mail servers entrusted to dispatch emails under your domain’s umbrella.

This SPF implementation, seamlessly integrated into your DNS infrastructure, acts as a shield against spammers seeking to exploit your domain’s identity by sending spammy or malicious emails from unauthorized servers.

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What Happens When Multiple SPF Records Exist for One Domain? 

A single domain cannot have multiple SPF records. Here’s why-

A single domain with multiple, separate SPF records can lead to SPF authentication failures, permanent SPF errors, and an excess of DNS lookups. These issues often result in email non-delivery, disrupting communication channels and potentially causing significant business loss.

Moreover, multiple SPF records can inadvertently facilitate spam and phishing attacks, as legitimate emails may fail SPF authentication checks. Fortunately, resolving this issue is relatively straightforward.

By merging multiple TXT records into a single line, domain owners can streamline their SPF configuration and mitigate the risks associated with SPF lookup failures. This solution is simple to implement and requires only a few minutes to merge multiple SPF records, enhancing email deliverability and bolstering overall email security.

Common Factors Leading to the Creation of Multiple SPF Records

Here are some common reasons that contribute to the creation of multiple SPF records-

  • Multiple email providers
  • Third-party services
  • Migration or transition periods
  • Lack of centralized management
  • Incomplete or Outdated Documentation
  • Subdomains

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Multiple SPF Records for a Domain: How to Merge Them

So, the question remains: How can you avoid multiple SPF records?  Easy- by merging them!

Follow the steps below to merge multiple records-

1. Identify Authorized IP Addresses and Domain Names 

To craft an accurate SPF record representing all sources permitted to send emails on behalf of your domain, compile a comprehensive list of IP addresses and domain names to include. This data should be sourced from your email service provider or an administrator.

2. Create and Update a Unified SPF Record 

Before composing a merged SPF record, understand its three primary sections:

  1. Declaration: Every SPF record commences with “v=spf1” (appearing once at the outset).
  2. Permitted IPs and Domains: Utilize “include” to append a domain and specify “ip4” or “ip6” for IPs.
  3. Enforcement Rule: Conclude the record with the “~all” statement (using it only once at the end).

Merge these sections by employing the “include” mechanism to reference the SPF records of other domains.

3. Update your DNS Settings 

Once the new merged SPF record is created, update your DNS settings to reflect this change. Typically, this entails accessing your DNS provider’s control panel and adding the record to your DNS configuration.

4. Verify the New Merged SPF Record 

Confirm the update of the merged SPF record to ensure its functionality. DNS adjustments may take up to 48 hours, though changes made through Cloudflare are often effective within minutes.

Woman multitasking: having a phone call while working on a laptop, facing the challenge of managing multiple SPF records for a domain.Courtesy of Pexels

How SPF Records Work in Email Authentication

Here’s how SPF records work in email authentication:

  1. Email Origin: When an email is sent, it originates from a specific domain, such as example.com.
  2. DNS Lookup: When the receiving email server receives an incoming email, it checks the SPF record of the sender’s domain (example.com) by performing a DNS lookup.
  3. SPF Record Retrieval: The receiving server retrieves the SPF record associated with the sender’s domain from the DNS.
  4. Policy Evaluation: The SPF record contains a list of authorized IP addresses or domains that are allowed to send emails on behalf of the sender’s domain. The receiving server compares the IP address of the sending server with the list of authorized IP addresses/domains specified in the SPF record.
  5. Decision Making: Based on the comparison, the receiving server decides the authenticity of the email sender. If the sending server’s IP address is listed in the SPF record, the email passes the SPF authentication check. Otherwise, it may be considered suspicious or potentially fraudulent.
  6. Handling SPF Failures: Depending on the SPF policy the domain owner configures, the receiving server may take different actions when an SPF check fails. This could include marking the email as spam, rejecting it outright, or applying other filtering mechanisms.
  7. Passing the Email Along: If the email passes the SPF authentication check, the receiving server proceeds with further processing, such as spam filtering, virus scanning, and delivery to the recipient’s inbox.

Why are SPF Records Important?

Setting SPF records serves multiple crucial purposes in email security:

  • Prevents email attacks

Firstly, it helps prevent various email attacks, including spoofing, phishing, and spamming, by specifying which email servers are authorized to send emails from your domain.

Without an SPF record, malicious hackers can exploit your domain name to carry out these attacks, potentially causing significant harm to your brand and reputation.

  • Enhanced domain reputation

Furthermore, implementing SPF email policies contributes to enhancing domain reputation. This proactive measure demonstrates to email services and blocklist sites the legitimacy of your email communications, reducing the likelihood of your emails being inaccurately flagged as spam.

Consequently, your domain’s reputation improves with firewalls and other cybersecurity databases, fostering trust and credibility.

Man celebrating success while working on a laptop, possibly after resolving the issue of multiple SPF records for a domain.Courtesy of Canva / StudioRoman

  • Higher email deliverability

SPF records are crucial in improving email deliverability by safeguarding delivery domains against potential threats.

This protection helps mitigate the risk of dangerous and malicious emails infiltrating your system, ultimately reducing the chances of your domain being added to global blacklists or DNS blacklists.

As a result, your email deliverability is enhanced, ensuring that legitimate messages reach their intended recipients without being marked as spam.

SPF records also help major ISPs such as Gmail and Yahoo identify and filter out emails sent from unauthorized IPs and domains.

This rigorous authentication process is particularly vital during email outreach campaigns, as it helps prevent your messages from being mistakenly classified as spam, thereby preserving the effectiveness of your communication efforts.

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  • Ensures compliance with DMARC policies 

Lastly, SPF records are an integral component of DMARC policy compliance, which is essential for safeguarding your domain against malicious actors.

By setting up SPF records along with DKIM signatures, you can ensure comprehensive authentication of emails sent from your domain, further fortifying your defenses against spoofing and phishing attempts.

Overall, SPF records form a crucial part of a robust email security framework, protecting your domain and preserving the integrity of your communication channels.


Organizations can boost email deliverability and bolster their domain’s security by understanding SPF rules, optimizing DNS records, and addressing common challenges such as managing subdomains and avoiding SPF record limitations.

Embracing best practices for SPF record management ensures that emails are correctly authenticated and reach their intended recipients, ultimately fostering trust and reliability in digital communication channels.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Does SPF cover IP addresses and domains? 

Yes, SPF encompasses both IP addresses and domains as mechanisms to designate authorized email servers for your domain.

You can use the ‘ip4’ or ‘ip6’ mechanisms to include IP addresses and the ‘include’ mechanism to incorporate domains into your SPF record.

How do SPF rules affect email authentication? 

SPF rules define which IP addresses are authorized to send emails on behalf of a domain.

Understanding these rules is essential for crafting an accurate SPF record that reflects all trusted sources.

By adhering to SPF rules and consolidating records, you ensure your emails are correctly authenticated and reach their intended recipients.

What role do DNS records play in consolidating SPF records? 

DNS records serve as the foundation for SPF records and play a crucial role in consolidating them.

Updating your domain’s DNS settings must reflect the changes made while merging SPF records. This step ensures that your domain’s DNS configuration accurately represents the new, unified SPF record.

How can merging SPF records streamline email authentication? 

Merging SPF records simplifies email authentication by eliminating redundancy and potential conflicts.

A single, comprehensive SPF record reduces the complexity of managing multiple records, making it easier to maintain and update. This streamlined approach enhances email deliverability and strengthens your domain’s security.

Is SPF effective for subdomains?

Yes, SPF applies to both subdomains and root domains. However, subdomains don’t automatically inherit SPF records from their parent domain. You must create individual SPF records for each subdomain and include them in your DNS zone record.

What happens when there are over 10 SPF records?

Having over 10 SPF records for a single domain triggers a PermError. This means the email service provider may not authenticate your emails, potentially leading to them being marked as spam.