Office 365: Some quick notes on the end of support for Dirsync and Azure AD Sync

Earlier this week Microsoft announced the end of support for the legacy Microsoft Dirsync and Microsoft Azure AD Sync tools. Millions of customers out there use one of those two tools, or the new Microsoft Azure AD Connect, to sync their users, groups, passwords, etc, from their On-Premises Active Directory to the Azure AD.

After quite a few name changes, it looks like the Azure AD Connect major version is here to stay, and now it’s time to end support to the two older major versions, and make sure that all of them are updated and replaced with the AD Connect.

If you haven’t done it already, it’s time to read the Microsoft announcement, and to start planning that upgrade.

Now let’s take the key points of the Microsoft announcement:

  • In April 13th 2016 Microsoft announced the deprecation of both Dirsync and Azure AD Sync
  • The end of support for both versions of the sync tool was planned to be April 13th 2017. That date is now official with the announcement this week and in that day the official support to those tools is gone
  • Azure AD will stop accepting connections from both tools in December 31st 2017

The most relevant thing to take into account is that, either you upgrade those instances, or they will stop working by the end of this year.

Now that you are probably more than convinced to update your instance(s) for your customers or your infrastructure, let’s bullet point some thoughts to have into account when planning the upgrade:

  • Make sure you read the official Microsoft document to upgrade Dirsync to Azure AD Connect
  • Or make sure you read the official Microsoft document to upgrade Azure AD Sync to Azure AD Connect
  • You can only do in place upgrade from Azure AD Sync to AD Connect or from an old to a more recent version of AD Connect. In place upgrades from Dirsync are not supported
  • Microsoft describes the migration done with a parallel server, to replace the existing, as “Swing migration”
  • On a standard Dirsync or AD Sync instance, there’s nothing that you need to backup and restore in the new version. The new Azure AD Connect instance will do a fresh full sync after the installation. That full sync will bring all data from the local and the Azure AD. Replacing a Dirsync or an AD Sync instance should not require restoring data
  • The only exception to the above statement is when you have some type of filtering. Filtering can be done at the AD OU, Domain or attribute level. In those cases you need to make sure you replicate the filtering you have in place, into the new instance.
  • To learn more about Dirsync filtering click here.
  • To learn more about AD Sync and AD Connect filtering click here.
  • If you are not doing an in place upgrade, you need to be aware that the “downtime” on your sync instance has impact in creating new account and replicating changes to the existing ones (that includes password changes, if you have password sync enabled)

And that’s it. As simple as that. Start downloading the AD Connect version and it’s upgrade time! 🙂

Let me know if you have questions.

Understanding the admin authentication options when using the EWS API in your migration project

One of the major concerns of the consultant or the project manager, on a migration project, is how long will it take to migrate the mailboxes, and what timelines can they define as reasonable for the migration (or the migration batch) to be finished.

Having that in mind, the conversation around it needs to focus on two major factors:

  • What authentication method should we use
  • How can we minimize (or avoid) throttling

So let’s start by talking about the authentication method.

What are the available authentication methods?

Bittitan MigrationWiz, which of course leverages the Exchange Web Services (EWS) as the API to migrate to and from Exchange 2010+, allows you to use two type of admin authentication methods:

  • Delegation
  • Impersonation

Note: MigrationWiz also allows non admin authentication methods, which we will not discuss on this blog post.

What is delegation and how do I configure it?

Delegation is the authentication method in which the entire migration will be done from the calling account (admin account), that needs to have full access to all of the mailboxes that are being migrated. The requirements for delegation are:

  • admin account needs to be mailbox enabled
  • full access is required to all of the mailboxes being migrated (explicit permissions)
  • a throttling policy should be created and associated with the admin account

In the Bittitan community website you will be able to find instructions on how to configure delegation on the source and target Exchange systems. You can also find there how to create the throttling policy.

By default the MigrationWiz project will try and use delegation, so there’s no other change needed.

What is impersonation and how do I configure it?

Impersonation is the authentication method in which the migration will be done on behalf of the user account, that is being impersonated by the calling account (admin account). For this to happen the admin account needs to be granted rights to impersonate the user accounts being migrated. the requirements for impersonation are:

  • the admin account does not need a mailbox
  • impersonation rights need to be granted to the admin account, over all of the users being migrated
  • a throttling policy is not required but highly recommended

In the Bittitan community website, you will also find instructions on how to configure impersonation on the source and target Exchange systems. The instructions to create the throttling policy are the same you can find on the section above.

The default behavior from MigrationWiz is not to use impersonation, so please make sure you follow the MigrationWiz steps of the article above, to configure impersonation at the project level.

Should I use Delegation or Impersonation?

Now that I described what is Delegation and what is Impersonation, let’s discuss which one should you use for each scenario.

In my professional opinion, that I will detail below and explain why, this is what you should do:

  • If the Exchange system is Exchange Online (Office 365) use Impersonation
  • If the Exchange system is Hosted Exchange (online but not in Office 365) use Delegation
  • If the Exchange system is on premises use Delegation

So now let’s break it down per system.

Exchange Online (Office 365)

The main reason that you should use Impersonation when authenticating against Exchange Online is simple: You cannot create a throttling policy in Office 365 and impersonation is less subject to throttling than delegation. 

I don’t think I need to explain why you can’t create a throttling policy in Office 365, but why is impersonation less subject to throttling? Well the explanation is logic: The subscriptions will be charged against the throttling budget of the target mailbox and not the calling account (admin account), which in other words means that the admin account is doing the migration impersonating each target account and the throttling is being charged to the target accounts, making the limits much more flexible and the migration faster.

Another good thing about Exchange Online is that when you set the impersonation rights, you are of course setting them within the boundaries of your tenant, which is not necessarily true for hosted Exchange systems, as you’ll see below.

Hosted Exchange (not in Office 365)

Now when we look at a hosted Exchange and what admin authentication methods we can have, the main thing you need to keep in mind is that, we will have what the Hoster is willing to configure. And what might that be? Short answer will be Delegation.

Don’t get me wrong, if you manage to get a Hoster (or if you are part of a Hoster Exchange management team and you’re also driving the migration) to either create a throttling policy or configure impersonation associated with a management scope, then what I recommend is:

  1. If you can create a throttling policy then use Delegation and associate that throttling policy to the admin account
  2. If you can’t create a throttling policy but you can enable impersonation with a scope (explanation below) than enable and use Impersonation
  3. If none of the above is possible, then use Delegation

Note: when you set impersonation, if you don’t use a management scope, that will allow the admin account to impersonate any account on that hosted Exchange. That might (and should) be considered a security breach by the Hoster and therefore not possible to configure. Although possible, many Hosters might not be willing to configure impersonation with a management scope, or configure impersonation at all.

On Premises Exchange

Finally when the system is on premises Exchange, you will be able to do all necessary tasks, so why use delegation?

To be able to reach maximum speeds you will still have to create a throttling policy (if you can), so between impersonating and using delegation I do think that delegation and a throttling policy is the best way to go.

Remember when I said “Impersonation is the authentication method in which the migration will be done on behalf of the user account, that is being impersonated by the calling account (admin account).”? Well that’s not 100% true in all cases. Depending on your Exchange version, the subscription might be charged to the calling account, which in essence makes impersonation as effective as delegation in terms of throttling. See the table below:

Exchange version EWSMaxSubscriptions throttling budget accounting
Exchange Online Charged against the target mailbox.
Exchange 2013 Charged against the target mailbox.
Exchange 2010 SP3 Charged against the target mailbox.
Exchange 2010 SP2 Charged against the calling account. Starting with Exchange 2010 SP2 RU4, the budget is charged against the target mailbox.
Exchange 2010 SP1 Charged against the calling account.
Exchange 2010 Charged against the calling account.

Source: EWS throttling in Exchange

From the above table you will see that if you have an Exchange system older than Exchange 2010 SP2 RU4, impersonation and delegation will have the same impact from the throttling perspective. We know that Exchange Online does have a version newer than the one just mentioned, but that is not necessarily true for Hosted Exchange or Exchange On Premises, so have that in mind when planning the authentication methods.

So let me outline the reasons that should make you choose delegation when migrating from an on premises Exchange:

  • the speed of the migration will be highly dependent on the throttling policy, that you can and should create, as well as monitor the Exchange performance during the migration
  • Implementing delegation is easier, specially in cases where you want the admin account to just have rights over a subset of the mailboxes. It’s much easier to just give full access to some mailboxes when compared to give impersonation rights to just some users
  • the way throttling reacts when using impersonation and delegation is different. In my opinion when using impersonation you’re more likely face ErrorServerBusy errors (if you go over the limit of concurrent migrations) and that causes normally more migrations to fail. When using delegation the failures are more likely to happen on the accounts that caused the admin account to over the maximum subscriptions allowed

I know that the explanation above might be a little confusing, specially the last bullet point, but I do highly recommend that you read the EWS throttling in Exchange article, and if you have another idea on what method to use feel free to share it.

I do think that impersonation makes sense only on those scenarios where you cannot fully implement proper delegation, with throttling policies and processes defined to monitor the Exchange server resources during the migration window.

Some useful articles around this subject

The importance of EWS impersonation while using an application account: you will can read the author outline how impersonation is better from an application perspective, and delegation is more oriented towards user access. I also mentions that user access can be controlled and revoked by the end user, which can be true. But on a migration project MigrationWiz will use user access to get into the mailbox and move the data to a destination mailbox, which is exactly what delegation provides you. He also outlines how less complex and global the impersonation setting can be, which is true, but on a project when you only need to migrate a subset of the mailboxes, and where you don’t want to give global access, impersonation will be significantly more complex. In essence this article is a good read that outlines the positives of impersonation and why it’s a good option for application level access and not user level access.

Impersonation and EWS in Exchange: This is an excellent article and a must read, that details how application level impersonation works in Exchange.

So what is the bottom line? At the end of the day it’s still your decision of whether to use delegation or impersonation. I’d say that for some scenarios like Office 365, the decision is a no-brainer (impersonation of course), and in some other scenarios it will depend on what can you configure and what is the simpler and more effective configuration.

Like I stated above I am always more inclined to decide for delegation against Exchange on premises and hosted Exchange, and impersonation against Office 365.

As always I hope this article is helpful, and feel free to share your thoughts.

Office 365 AADSync Password Sync failed: Event 611 System.MissingMethodException

Just recently I installed the Microsoft Azure Active Directory Sync, and faced a strange issue: Password Sync was not working. When a password was updated on premises, those changes were not being replicated to Office 365. I was installing AADSync on a Windows 2008 R2 Operating system.

The Microsoft Azure Active Directory Sync tool event ID’s, that you can see on your server event viewer, are actually very good and make the job of troubleshooting the tool much easier. There is a Microsoft support article on how to troubleshoot AADSync that has all the event ID’s and if you’re having problems with the tool you should definitely have a look into it.

On my scenario, I went to the event viewer and immediately detected the event ID 611, that was stating that the Password Sync was failing for my internal domain, as shown below:

PassSync1

I started trying to understand why, and here’s what I looked at:

  • I had no firewalls between the AADSync Server and the AD Domain controllers
  • Both servers were on the same subnet and with the local firewall disabled
  • AADSync was communicating with the Domain Controllers and all other tasks were working, except the Password Sync feature

So there was no way that this was about networking. So I circled back to the prerequisites of AADSync and found out what the problem was:

I had installed Microsoft .Net Framework 4.5, and it actually was good enough to allow me to install AADSync, and you can actually find a lot of guides out there that state that the 4.5 version is good enough, but when you’re installing on a Windows 2008 R2 it’s not, and I needed to install Microsoft .Net Framework 4.5.1.

Once I upgraded the .Net Framework to 4.5.1 everything started to work.

How to configure mail flow coexistence between GApps and O365 using internal relay domains and mail users

Are you planning to move your e-mail system from Google Apps to Office 365? Do you have a large number of users, and therefore migrate the users in stages, and therefore set up mail flow coexistence between the two systems? Keep reading.

On this blog post I am going to guide you through the process of setting up mail flow coexistence, between Google Apps and Office 365.

There are several ways to achieve the mail flow coexistence, from an Office 365 perspective, such as:

  • The Internal relay domain with mail users method
  • The Criteria Based Routing method

This blog article will guide you through the mail flow coexistence configuration, using the internal relay domain method. This method as some pros and cons when compared to others, such as:

Pros:

  • Easy to configure
  • If the processes are well defined it’s also easy to manage as the migration goes along

Cons:

  • Requires more processes during the migration stage
  • Requires more changes post migration
  • When not using Dirsync or AADsync the users on Office 365 need to be created via the Exchange Admin Centre or the Exchange Online PowerShell, which makes the user creation process more complicated.
  • When you enable a mailbox on Office 365, for a user being migrated, all new e-mails coming from other Office 365 users (and external users if you already changed the MX record to Office 365), will not reach the Google Apps mailbox and stay only on the Office 365 mailbox. This makes that the process of migrating the user data has to be managed in batches of users, and done ideally over the weekend.

In my opinion, if you’re using Dirsync this method is an option you should consider.

Now let’s get what matters: the steps for configuring mail flow coexistence between Google Apps and Office 365.

Step 1 – Validate your domain on Office 365:

Of course if you are moving to Office 365, the first thing you need to make sure is that your domain is validated there, and enabled for Exchange Online.

On my scenario, the domain that I am using is myexchlab.com

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I am not going to give you a step by step guide on the simple tasks, such as adding and validating the domain on Office 365, to keep this blog post focused on the essential, which is to set up the mail flow coexistence.

As you can see above you need to make sure that your domain is added and validated, and that the domain purpose is set to ExchangeOnline.

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As you can also see above, on my Google Admin Portal, my domain is also validated and working there, as that is my current production environment.

Step 2 – Create and enable your Office 365 users as mail users

Depending on the way you create the users, they can already be mail users on Office 365, i.e. if you are using Dirsync or AADSync to push your users to Office 365, you should have them as mail users on premises, which will also make them mail users on Office 365.

To sum up, there are two ways to create all your users as mail users on Office 365:

  • If you’re using Dirsync enable them as mail users on premises and push them to Office 365
  • If you’re not using Dirsync you need to create all your users via the Exchange Online PowerShell, or the Exchange Admin Centre, directly as mail users. The reason is simple: In Office 365, it’s not supported to enable a user without Exchange attributes (just a regular MSOL user) as a mail user. The only way to give him Exchange attributes is to enable an Exchange Online license and create him a mailbox.

In my case I am not using Dirsync, so I am going to show you how to create all my users as mail users. To do so you can use a script (let me know if you need one), or do it manually via the Exchange Online management Shell.

Connect to the Exchange Online Powershell, and run the following cmdlet:

New-MailUser -Name “GApps1” -Alias Gapps1 -ExternalEmailAddress Gapps1@myexchlab.com -FirstName GApps1 -LastName 1 -MicrosoftOnlineServicesID GApps1@myexchlab.com -Password (ConvertTo-SecureString -String ‘P@ssw0rd’ -AsPlainText -Force)

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Repeat the step for each user you want to create.

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Now I have GApps1 and GApps2 created on Office 365, both users also exist and have their productions mailboxes on Google Apps.

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The users are also Exchange mail users, which is fundamental to have both an up to date Global Address list on Office 365, and to make the mail flow coexistence work.

I know that this way of creating the users might seem a bit manual, but there are two things you need to consider:

  • Most of you will be using Dirsync, which makes the user creation process much simpler.
  • You can script the user creation via the new-mailuser cmdlet and make your live easier.

Step 3 – Configure the routing domain in Office 365

In order to have mail flow coexistence between Google Apps and Office 365, you need to set up a forwarding address in each Google Apps user you move to Office 365. In order for it to work, the forwarding address needs to be from a sub domain of your main email domain. In my case I will use onprem.myexchlab.com which is a subdomain of myexchlab.com.

To properly configure the subdomain you need to:

  • Validate it on Office 365 and configure it for Exchange Online
  • Create an MX record for that subdomain, that points to office 365
  • Make sure that the users have a secondary SMTP address for that subdomain, that you will use as forwarding address on google

To validate the routing domain, go to the domains section on your Office 365 portal and click to add a domain.

As the domain is a subdomain of your main e-mail domain, the validation should be instant.

Skip the steps to add users, and make sure that you choose Exchange as domain purpose, as sown below.

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The Office 365 wizard will give you an option to add the DNS records (depending on your domain name provider), or you can just copy and paste the DNS records and add them yourself. The only relevant record that needs to be created, is the MX record.

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Make sure you verify that the MX record is created.

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Step 4 – Configure Exchange Online for mail flow coexistence

On the Exchange Admin Centre of your Office 365 tenant, you need to do two things:

  • Configure your main domain as internal relay
  • Create a send connector to send e-mail to your Google Apps

To configure your domain as internal relay, log in to your Office 365 tenant, and on the bottom left click on “Admin > Exchange”.

On the Exchange Admin Centre go to “Mail Flow” and click on the “Accepted Domains” tab.

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Select your main e-mail domain, in my case myexchlab.com, and click edit.

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Select “Internal Relay” and click save.

Now let’s create the send connector. On the Exchange Admin Centre, select “Mail Flow” and click on the “Connectors” tab.

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Click on the “+” to add a new connector.

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When creating the new connector, select from Office 365 and to your organization’s email server.

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Select a name and keep the existing options selected.

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Select “Only when email messages are sent to these domains” and click on “+” to add your main email domain.

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Enter one (or several) of the available Google Apps MX record as a smarthost.

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You can check the Google Apps MX records by doing an nslookup to your domain.

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Untick the always use TLS option and click next twice.

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Finally enter a valid e-mail address from your Google Apps environment, and click validate. Make sure the test succeeds.

Migration steps

Now that you have Office 365 configured for mail flow coexistence, let me give you a quick overview on the migration steps:

Define a migration batch

The first thing you need to do is define a group of users to be migrated. Because there’s no sharing of resources cross platforms (i.e calendars), I highly recommend you approach your migration batches on a per department basis. You might want to export all e-mail addresses of the users being migrated, into a CSV file, in order to use that file to script all the forthcoming tasks.

Activate the user licenses in Office 365

Once you have your group of users defined, you need to activate an Exchange Online license for them on Office 365. Like stated previously you can script that, but for the purposes of this blog post I will just activate the license manually, as the main goal here is to explain how to set up the mail flow coexistence.

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Go to your Office 365 admin portal, click on “Users > Active Users”, select the user you want to license and add an Exchange Online license.

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Via the Exchange Admin Centre you will be able to see that, the user is no longer a mail user, and it’s now a mailbox.

Note: As stated before, all e-mail coming from other Office 365 users, or external e-mail if you changed the MX record of your main domain to point to Office 365, will now stay on the GApps1 Office 365 mailbox and not on his Google Apps mailbox.

Migrate your user’s data

Now it’s time to push all the data from Google Apps to the newly created Office 365 mailbox. And how can you do that? Well the answer is simple: Use the best tool in the market. MigrationWiz from BitTitan.

https://www.bittitan.com/products/migrationwiz/about

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MigrationWiz will move all your emails, calendars and contacts, from Google Apps to Office 365. In addition you can also move your Google Drive and your Google Vault data, with other types of migrations supported by the same tool.

Set up the forwarding address on Google Apps

Now at the same time you start to move the data, you need to set up a forwarding address on the Google Apps accounts you’re migrating. I’ll be blogging soon an explanation on how MigrationWiz automatically sets that up for you, but for now I will again do it manually on my GApps1 user.

Log in to https://admin.google.com

Go to Users and click on the user you want to set up the forwarding. Click on “Account”.

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On the Email routing section add the forwarding address. Untick the “Change SMTP envelope”, the “Google Apps email” (leave a copy on the source) and the “Inherit routes from <your domain>”.

Important note: do not leave a copy on the source mailbox, or else when moving the data to Office 365 via MigrationWiz, you might get duplicates.

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Another thing that you need to make sure is that all the users being migrated have a @onprem.myexchlab.com secondary SMTP address.

Connect the users to Office 365

Once all the data is migrated all you have to do is set up your users to connect to Office 365 and start working there.

BitTitan also has a tool to help you automate that process: DeploymentPro

https://www.bittitan.com/products/deploymentpro/about

DeploymentPro will configure Outlook for all your users, and bring all attached PST files and signatures from the old profile (if applicable).

Test mail flow

Now that we’ve covered all the migration steps, it’s time to test mail flow between:

  • GApps1 that was migrated to Office 365
  • GApps2 still in Google Apps

Test message from the Internet to GApps1 (Office 365)

With the MX record still pointing to Google Apps, we will send a test message from the Internet to GApps1, that was already moved to Office 365.

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As you can see the message got delivered to Office 365.

Test message from GApps2 (Google Apps) to GApps1 (Office 365)

Now let’s send a message from a Google Apps user to an Office 365 user.

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And again message delivered to GApps1 Office 365 mailbox.

Test message from GApps1 (Office 365) to GApps2 (Goggle Apps)

Now the most relevant test, the one this blog post is all about: mail flow between Office 365 and Google Apps.

Let’s reply to the GApps2 email.

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And there you go. Working!

Internet mail flow considerations

On this coexistence scenario, there is no centralized outbound mail flow, which in essence means that Office 365 users will email directly to the Internet, and the same of course will happen to Goggle Apps users. Having said that, you need to make sure that your SPF record is up to date, and reflects that scenario. For help setting up your SPF record, go to the Microsoft SPF record wizard page.

Summary

Most of the configurations described above only need to be done once, but on the migration steps section you will want to automate everything. I’ve seen a lot of companies concerned with things like setting up the forwarding address on Google Apps, or scripting the way you enable licenses for users. One of my next blog post will be how MigrationWiz automates the forwarding address configuration, and you can ping me if you need more information about that, or if you need scripts for things like enabling the licenses on Office 365.

As stated on the beginning of this post, there are other methods to configure mail flow coexistence between Google Apps and Office 365, and I will soon be blogging about them so stay tuned.

Office 365 tips: Automatic DNS records creation when your custom domain is hosted with GoDaddy

Last week I started another Office 365 project. The custom domain to validate is hosted with GoDaddy, so once more I took advantage of the excellent integration feature between Office 365 and GoDaddy.

This feature is not new, but it’s very good and therefore always worth blogging about it.

Click here to see the official statement from Microsoft, about this integration, and a demo video.

Now a quick walkthrough. My domain was already validated, but you can use the integration also for the domain validation, as it creates the necessary DNS record.

After the domain is validated and you set the domain purpose, the Office 365 Admin portal detects that your domain provider is 365, and you can then click on “Add Records” to add your DNS records.

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Before adding them, you can see the detail by expanding “View the DNS records we’ll add”.

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A GoDaddy logon window will pop up. Enter your username and password.

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Click confirm to accept the changes on your public DNS zone.

(Note: Apologies about the Portuguese screenshoots)

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You will then get the confirmation that the changes were done.

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And if you login to your GoDaddy account and edit the zone file for your domain, you will see all the new DNS records there.

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That’s it. As simples as that! Enjoy!