What is dynamic DNS, you might ask? Basically, dynamic DNS is a service provided by third party vendors whereby an ever-changing IP address provided by an ISP is regularly updated and linked to the hostname provided by the company. If you have a broadband internet connection at home, you most likely have a dynamic IP address.
A dynamic IP address changes from time to time compared to a static IP address that never changes. Changing the IP address usually doesn’t cause any problems until you try to connect to a local device outside of your home network. With a constantly changing IP address, you can connect multiple times, but not after updating the IP address.
So why bother looking for your computer on the Internet at all? There are several reasons why you might want to know your dynamic IP address:
1. Connect to your computer via Remote Desktop Connection and access your files
2. Streaming audio and video from home media server to anywhere in the world
3. View and control the IP camera from anywhere
There are many more reasons why it might be useful to know your IP address. So why doesn’t everyone have a static IP address? Well, it is much cheaper for ISPs to keep rotating their IP addresses to their customers. If you need a static IP, you will have to pay a monthly additional fee, and most ISPs won’t even offer them to private customers.
This is where dynamic DNS comes into play. Using this service, you can theoretically create a static IP address for your home computer. This is how it works. When visiting any website on the Internet, you can enter the IP address or domain name, for example www.free-online-converters.com All over the world there are DNS servers that keep track of which names correspond to which numeric IP addresses.
When you visit a website, your computer first looks for an IP address on a DNS server and then queries the site. This is great for servers with static IP addresses that never change, but not good for servers connected to your home broadband. This means that your server is constantly “roaming” on the Internet and breaks the one-to-one relationship between domain names and IP addresses.
A solution for setting up dynamic DNS where a third-party server keeps track of its current IP address and displays this information when you enter your unique domain name. This way you can assign a virtual static IP address to your dynamic IP address. When connected to a computer, you must either enter the domain name or ping the domain name to find the current IP address.
Domain names are always subdomains of the company you open an account with. For example, one dynamic DNS service provider is no-ipcom. So when you register and create a hostname it will look something like aseemkishore.no-ipcom. The first part is everything you want, as long as someone else hasn’t accepted it.
To determine your current IP address, all of these services work in one of two ways: either you install software on your computer that keeps its servers up to date, or you configure the service on your router if supported. Many newer routers have dynamic DNS providers like built-in DynDNS, so you can configure your router to automatically update the IP address to a dynamic DNS provider when it changes.
How to set up dynamic DNS
One of the best dynamic DNS providers was DynDNS, but they recently removed all of their free plans in 2014. Their remote plan only costs $ 25 a year, which is pretty cheap for the features you get, but still not free!
If you really plan on many remote connections from different parts of the world and want something very reliable, DynDNS is definitely worth paying for.
However, there are a few free options that do their job well and will work for most people. I’m going to write about my current favorite – no-ipcom. I’ll also mention a couple more at the bottom of the post.
No intellectual property
Free dynamic DNS provided by no-ip includes up to 3 hostnames, email support, dynamic DNS updates (obviously), and URL and port 80 redirects. Having multiple hostnames is a good feature if you have multiple devices to which you want remote access and you need a different hostname for each device. Devices can also be located in different locations, so you can use one hostname to connect to your computer at home and another to connect to your computer at work.
To get started, click the Sign Up Now button and create an account. You will be prompted for one hostname and you can enter it or choose to create it later.
You will receive a confirmation email and as soon as you enter the site, you will be taken to your personal account and a pop-up window will appear with instructions for you to take next.
The next thing to do is download the update client, as it is a tool that will constantly update non-IP servers with your current dynamic IP.
If the popup does not appear when you log in, you can simply click on “Dynamic Update Client” in the left menu. It will automatically detect your OS and show the correct boot for Mac, Windows, etc.
After launching it, you need to first login with non-IP credentials as shown below.
After that, you will receive a host selection message. It will list the hostnames you created, so just check the box next to the one you want.
The only thing I would suggest is to click on the Daemon tab and click on the Start button, and also check the Start daemon on system startup checkbox. If you do this, you do not have to run the client updater at all, as this background application will update automatically.
If you are not running Daemon, you will need to keep the program updated at all times. It will just appear on your desktop and tell you the current status.
You can also click the Settings tab and select the checkbox to run the updater at login. However, I found it much more convenient to just use the daemon and not worry about the updated application at all.
You should now be able to just ping the hostname (in my case akishore.ddns.net) and get the correct dynamic IP. You can also add other hostnames by clicking the “Add Host” button in your account.
By default, the first hostname you created used DNS host (A) as the host type. This will be roughly what 99% of users will use. If you hover your mouse over the little question marks next to the settings, you can get more information about each option.
If you are using a web server and your ISP has blocked incoming traffic on port 80, as many ISPs do, you can select Port 80 Forwarding. You basically start your web server on a different port and then specify that port number in the no-ip settings. The user will not need to enter the port number in the URL to connect to the web server.
Web Direct will just redirect the user to whatever url you want. Obviously this parameter cannot be used for remote connections as it just redirects to a different URL.
Skip everything else on the page and click Add Host. You can now download the client software to another computer and choose a new hostname for that particular instance of the updater.
Please note that you have only completed one step in setting up remote access to the device on your local network. Now you need to forward the corresponding ports on the router to the corresponding devices on the network. Luckily, I’ve written a lot about port forwarding and how to set it up on my router already.
That’s all. After running dynamic DNS and setting up port forwarding, you can use the new hostname with port number (akishore.ddns.net:3389) to connect to your computer, webcam, or whatever.
As I said earlier, no-ip is not the only option for dynamic DNS. Here are a couple more good reviews.
The process after setting up dynamic DNS can be a little tricky, so if you have any questions, feel free to leave comments. Enjoy!