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Manually Configuring DNS Lookups for Exchange Server 2013

In some Exchange Server 2013 environments it will be necessary to manually configure the DNS servers that Exchange uses for external name resolution.

This is most common in environments where the internal DNS servers that the general server and workstation population uses for DNS cannot resolve external names (a security requirement for some organizations).

Obviously Exchange Server 2013 is a little different than your average server or workstation. DNS is a requirement for Exchange to be able to route outgoing email if a smart host is not being used.

To configure DNS lookups for an Exchange 2013 server in the Exchange Admin Center navigate to Servers, highlight the server you wish to configure, and click the Edit button.


In the DNS Lookups section drop down the list to either choose an adapter that has the correct DNS servers configured on it, or if no adapter has DNS servers configured that can resolve external names choose Custom Settings.


If you have chosen custom settings you can add the IP addresses of DNS servers.


Click Save to commit the changes.

The same configuration options also exist for internal DNS lookups.

Be cautious when configuring Exchange Server 2013 DNS lookups in this manner, and make sure you test the changes afterwards to ensure mail flow is still functioning correctly. Misconfigured DNS settings can cause problems with Exchange 2013 such as sent items being stuck in the OWA Drafts folder.

Paul is a Microsoft MVP for Office Servers and Services. He works as a consultant, writer, and trainer specializing in Office 365 and Exchange Server. Paul is a co-author of Office 365 for IT Pros and several other books, and is also a Pluralsight author.
Category: Exchange Server


  1. Manoj says:


    I am unable to change External DNS server in DNS lookup as I am getting some error
    “This service cannot be started, either because it is disabled or because it has no enabled device associated with it. (Exception from HRESULT:0x80070422)

    Please help me out how to fix it.
    if possible please let me know how to do this via Exchange Management Shell?

    Thanks in Advance..

  2. Jyothi Pradeep Kollipara says:

    Thanks a lot for this article. This solves the missing piece in my puzzle. All blogs on the internet were only talking about the setup of mail flows. The information on setting up DNS lookups was very useful.

  3. Sajeev says:

    I have “techgreen.local” as a local domain. If i want to create techgreen.sg domain for email. If i use split brain DNS. Do i have to create name sever in both zone? if yes how? Please help

  4. Joshua Meade says:

    Hello I am having issues with inbound emails. My dns for my domain name is hosted using Rackspace.com free dns service so i am not sure how to get my server to look for the right dns when its not hosted on the mail server its self

  5. Nagesh says:

    Hi Paul,

    I have a lab environment. Where i installed Exchange 2013. I want to send/receive emails from internet. How to configure connectors to achieve this. The domain is not registered in. Just i am using for lab purpose for testing only.

  6. Blaudfaust says:

    I have configure my exchange 2013 server, when email are send, it goes out with the mail1.local instead of the HELLO or EHLO response name which is mail1.sl

    how can I enable the mail sever sending email with the .sl instead of .local

  7. Tom says:

    My problem is related to DNS but is a little a bit different.
    I have smart host in Comcast to send emails from my company.
    I have setup Domain controller with DNS server and revers lookup. I’ve created secondery DNS server on my Exchange server.
    Every time when I want to use smart host FQDN my emails stuck in the queue. If I use IP adress for smart hose, emails are going out if FQDN then not.
    NSLOOKUP from DNS server and from EXCHANGE is showing Comcast smtp.hcm1.comcast.net with right IP return.
    I’ve setup DNS lookup on my Exchange using this article and is not working if I use comcast name instead of IP.

    Any suggestions ?

    • You’ve installed the DNS Server role on your Exchange server?

      Aside from that… if mails are stuck in your queue, you need to look at the reason why. Use Get-Queue | Get-Message to see more details. Do Google/Bing searches on the error/message that you see as the reason for the email being stuck. There’s lots of possibilities.

  8. Edward says:

    Our website stopped resolving on our local network after installing mail exchange server 2013.
    What could be the cause?

  9. Prakash says:

    I have indtalled exchange 2016 and my issue is

    From inside the office outlook works fine but from outside the office outlook doesnt connect to server.

    From outside the office outlook setup is not getting autodiacovery.

    Help what could be the reason..

  10. Tracy Kelley says:

    Can this be done to resolve internally? Our Exchange server DNS name is different that the Exchange name so we get a certificate error. I have resolved the issue by changing a local host file on a test PC, but was sure the best way to make the fix globally thru out our local domain.

  11. Naveen says:

    Hello Friend i have a big problem i have configured Microsoft Exchange Server 2016 i am not able to send the email all emails are going in Draft Folder while sending from OWA
    Please help me

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