Hosting mail with dreamhost for a domain hosted elsewhere

I have shared hosting and a domain registered with Dreamhost. I initially intended to use Dreamhost for everything but ultimately decided to use DigitalOcean for hosting the web app (Discourse).

Is it possible to continue using the domain for mail (hosted by Dreamhost) though the domain nameservers point to DigitalOcean?

I’m guessing that I’ll have to host a subdomain on Dreamhost (e.g., and add some custom DNS/MX records, but I wanted to first check and see if someone else does this/knows exactly how to do this without issues. Sorry if this is a duplicate – surprisingly, I couldn’t find this particular topic on the web.

The easiest way is to keep the DNS hosted in Dreamhost and create a A record to point your site to DigitalOcean.

If you have to host DNS with DigitalOcean, then point the MX record to Dreamhost and you’ll be able to continue using Dreamhost mail

You might want to look somewhere besides DreamHost for the email. Besides the issues with email in general (see for example,, DreamHost has told me in the past that the only supported configuration is if they are the nameserver. DreamHost insists they might change servers or IP addresses without warning, and if DreamHost is not the nameserver for your DNS, you won’t know about those changes until you realize your email/etc. is broken.

I went ahead and took the risk of moving the nameserver away from DreamHost, and they’ve not actually changed the server or IP, so it’s ended up working out, so far. I have automated monitoring on it, though, so I’ll know if it does change. (Ironically, they did change the IPs for a different domain that DreamHost was the nameserver for, and they screwed up so something didn’t propagate and that site broke anyway.)