When you send an email, your email server tells the receiving server, "Hey, it's me! I'm allowed to send emails for this domain." The receiving server, to verify this claim, checks a kind of digital list associated with your domain called SPF (Sender Policy Framework) record. This SPF record is like a guest list at a party, telling the receiving server which email servers are allowed to send emails on behalf of your domain.

However, there's a catch: checking this guest list (the SPF record) can be like opening a set of nested boxes. Some entries in the SPF record might say, "To see if this server is allowed, check this other list too." This can lead to a chain where checking one box leads to another and so on.

To prevent this from becoming an endless task, there's a rule: you can only open up to 10 of these boxes. If your SPF record says to check more than 10 boxes, the receiving server might say, "This is too much work," and could mistrust the email, possibly marking it as spam or rejecting it altogether. This rule helps keep the email verification process quick and prevents it from overloading the receiving server's resources.

In short, the 10 lookup limit on SPF records is there to ensure email verification remains efficient and manageable, helping prevent legitimate emails from being wrongly marked as spam due to overly complex verification processes.

Picture the SPF record as a party planning committee where each member (or entry) can suggest other committees to consult. The rule is that you can only ask for opinions from 10 different committees to decide if a guest is allowed. This rule keeps the planning from getting out of hand. However, if your party planning (SPF record) involves consulting more than 10 committees, you'll need to streamline the process. Here's how you can fix it:

Condense the Guest List: Check your SPF record for any unnecessary entries. If you find entries for email services or servers you no longer use, remove them. It's like deciding not to consult a committee that isn't really contributing to the party planning anymore.

Use Subcommittees Wisely: Some email services offer a way to include their permissions without adding to your direct count, using mechanisms that fold multiple permissions into one. This is akin to a subcommittee that checks several lists on its own, but only reports back to you once, counting as a single consultation.

Flatten the List: There are services that help "flatten" your SPF record. This means they take those nested boxes (the SPF records pointing to other SPF records) and repack them into a more direct list that doesn't require opening more boxes than allowed. It simplifies your SPF record by directly listing all allowed servers without exceeding the lookup limit. We recommend AutoSPF

Prioritize Key Servers: If you have multiple mail servers listed, rank them by importance. Keep the ones crucial for your email sending needs and consider removing or replacing less critical ones. Think of it as inviting only the key members who need to be at the planning meeting, ensuring decisions are made efficiently.

Regular Reviews: Email sending needs can change. Regularly review your SPF record to ensure it aligns with your current setup. It's like revisiting your party planning list periodically to make sure it's still relevant to your current needs.

By streamlining your SPF record, you not only adhere to the 10 lookup limit but also improve your email deliverability. When your emails consistently pass SPF checks, they're less likely to be marked as spam, ensuring your communications reach their intended recipients more reliably.

In essence, managing your SPF record is about maintaining a balance between including all necessary email sources while staying within the limit to ensure smooth and efficient email delivery. Think of it as planning the best party: inclusive, yet manageable and fun for everyone involved.