Dynamic DNS – Dyndns alternatives

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Dynamic DNS for Custom Domains

I have been using dynamic dns for many years.  My preferred provider was always dyndns.org.  In early 2014 Dyndns (or Dyn.com) stopped offering a free Dynamic Dns solution.  You can read about their decision to stop providing this service (here).  NOTE:  I don’t disagree with their decision, at one point I even used Dyndns as a paying customer for their other services.

Alternatives for DynDns.orgpfsense_dynamicdns

Now that one of the best provider (well best known) is no longer many people were
looking for alternatives.  If you use any modern router, there is most likely a dynamic DNS area where you can select from a dropdown of providers.  The image attached is form PFSense 2.5.

As you can see there are many providers available. Since 2014 I have tried many of these.    I have had some success and found great features in many of these providers.  Even one open sourced crowd developed one that I found on hacker news.  In the end I have moved on to using two providers; HE.net and CloudFlare.

Solutions – Dynamic DNS

Both HE.net (dns.he.net) and CloudFlare offer a reliable Dynamic Updatable DNS solution.  If you do a quick search you will notice that CloudFlare really does not offer a dynamic dns service out of the box, but many firewalls utilize their api for this feature.    I have settled on a mix of these providers based on how I use Dynamic DNS.  For starters I own many domain names.  I also utilize these domain for things like VPN to my home, media servers, and also image backup.  I have a a few domain names pointing to my cable modem , and also to a few cloud services.

HE.net Dynamic DNS

I have been a longtime user of the dns services from HE.net.   In fact, he.net has saved me a few times when Godaddy has let me down.  I believe that they may be the most reliable DNS I have ever used.  Using Dynamic DNS from HE.net could not be easier.

  • Create a new A Record – During the creation process select the (Enable entry for dynamic dns) and it will populate your IP address.    NOTE: The default TTL is 5 Min.  I typically change this to 2 hours (7200)
  • hedynmic
  • After you enter the A record you will be able to create a domain specific Key. This key will be used to allow you to update the record.  The nice part about the key is that it is not your normal password. This is a nice level of security, in that you are not always passing your  “username / password” combination in routers and systems.hedynamic2
  • I typically select the generate key option
  • hekey

In the case of PFsense you just enter the full qualified domain name (FQDN) – in my case “dynamicdns.jimiz.net” and the key into the system and it will update for you.  I have been extremely happy with HE.net.  However, in some cases where I don’t use he.net for my domain this is not a great option.

CloudFlare – Custom domains

I have posted previously about how great cloudflare is for both a Caching, SSL, and DNS provider.  I use CloudFlare as much as possible for any public facing domain / wordpress site.  Their Flexible SSL solution is wonderful (NOTE: I will have to post on this later).

For domains where I am using CloudFlare their SSL and caching offering, I also use dynamic dns. There is a mixture of ways to use their service for dynamic dns (API, DDclient port).

To setup this you will need to just create a new A record dns entry.

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Then depending on your internal system.  In my case PFSense you enter your username / password combination to update on a regular frequency the settings.

cloud2

Final Impressions

The two solutions I mentioned above I use with a custom domain (a domain I own).  There are other solutions where the dynamic dns provider will offer or create you your own hostname at their domain.  Example:   somedomain.no-ip.com.   I have chosen to use domains that I own for dynamic dns as I can always remember the name and in some cases the name for locations.

Overall both solutions work well.  I feel that HE.net has a more polished and secure solution.

Dynamic Dns Defintion – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dynamic_DNS

 

 

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