Sunday, May 19, 2013

How to use a Dynamic DNS Service

The internet is a huge place, and just like in the real world, the computers connected to it need an address in order to find one another - just like we have our home address in order to receive mail. That is called the IP address, and is usually represented by a 32 bit number, displayed and a four number sequence separated by dots:

(This is for IPv4 address, which has now "run out" of address even though it allows for 4 billion addresss - for IPv6 things get trickier, as it upgrades the system to 128bit addresses, allowing for truly astronomical number of individually addressable devices.) But we're not talking about IP addresses today, so... let's move on.

So, your home computer has an IP address (you can easily find out which by visiting a site like What Is My IP), which you could use to connect to it remotely using something like Remote Desktop, or VNC, or for whatever other service you might want (including a web server to host your own personal website), or maybe you just want to check out our things are going by watching your home IP cameras. But the problem is that most home internet connections won't give you a fixed IP address. Meaning, today you have this IP address... tomorrow you might have a different one.

That's where dynamic DNS servers come in. As you've probably have noticed, when you want to visit a site on the internet, you won't type it's IP address on your browser address bad (though you can!) - no, we use more easily rememberable names, like or Those names serve as aliases to the IP address, making it easier for us humans to navigate the web, and leaving the "translation work" to the machines, that have to look up to what IP address each of these names connects to using a service called DNS (Domain Name System) .

To solve our problem, there are dynamic DNS services that allow us to create a more easily rememberable name, that our computer can update whenever its IP address changes. So, you might create something like "" and have it point to you current IP address... and tomorrow, if the IP changes, you can have a small program running on your computer that will update it accordingly.

Most modern routers can even do that for you, requiring you only to set it up with the service you use and your account data.

Now... why did I bring this up now?

I've been using Dyn (ex-DynDNS) for years, and I've been quite happy with it. It began as a free service, but has since gone "paid only" (there are still other popular services that offer free accounts like No-IP and, and although free accounts have been left alone... they've now changed the rules.

From now on, free Dyn account users will be required to manually login monthly in order to keep their account active. Don't get me wrong... although I think it's a bad decision, I'm not "annoyed" by their decision. In fact, it was just the "nudge" I needed in order to become a paying customer: I use their services daily (accessing my home computers remotely, my IP cameras, etc.) and don't mind paying for it at all!

I only think it's a bad decision because there are certainly many thousands of users that have had their computers/routers/etc. setup by friends using the dyndns services and left "untouched" over the years... and that will now stop working without any "notice", and the resulting frustration might prompt them to switch to another dynamic DNS provider.

If you rely on DynDNS and what to keep using it; for existing Dyn free users, you can upgrade to a VIP account for only $10 in the first year (use the VIPUPGRADE discount code). If you're a new user, you can get a 15% discount using the RFE3B91BJP code.

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