Trying Out Dynamic DNS Services

Alas, poor me. Given an IP address that may modify itself over time. A web address would have to be altered time and time again in order to point to my home server. Thankfully, there are sites that will host a domain name and accept updates when they are notified of IP address changes. This is commonly referred to as Dynamic DNS

There are dozens of Dynamic DNS services on the Internet. To pick the right one, I gathered some requirements of my own:

  • It must be supported by OpenWRT’s DNS scripts  (dyndns.org, changeip.com, zoneedit.com, no-ip.com, freedns.afraid.org)
  • It must be free to use (changeip is only commercial, so it is out)
  • It must be able to use domain that I have already registered instead of using their own domain names(down to zoneedit.com and freedns.afraid.org)

Right now, I am trying out both zoneedit.com and freedns.afraid.org.  Here are some pros and cons with each service.  Some of these detail were unexpected.  Hopefully, this will help others who are facing similar problems.

When a domain is put on freedns.afraid.org, other registered members of the service are free to create subdomains off of your domain.  This is nice for people who are doing the subdomains, but horrible if you are trying to keep any type of brand consistency for your domain.  Someone can take anything.yourdomain.com and put whatever they want there.  In order to hide the domain from other users, a fee of $5 monthly must be paid.

The part about freedns.afraid.org that came as a present surprise is the update URL.  It doesn’t contain the account’s password.  Instead, it has a unique key in it.  That way, if the key to perform an update is compromised, the worst that can happen is someone else points the domain to a different web site.  The account itself is safe.  The attacker doesn’t even know the account name.

Zoneedit.com allows for two free domains before they start to charge a nominal fee.  The domains are yours and other users can’t create subdomains off of them.

The update URL for zoneedit.com contains the user name and password for the account.  Anyone listening to the traffic on the account can compromise the entire account.

Both services update the DNS record quickly after a change IP request is sent.

Both services have somewhat dated web pages.  The slight edge goes to freedns.afraid.org just because of how simple it is.

After all of that, it looks like zoneedit.com is the winner.  I don’t like my password existing in clear text anywhere; however, the traffic can be sent via SSL to protect it from simple traffic sniffing attacks.

Allowing other users create subdomains off of one of my domains does not appeal to me at all.  That is the only issue that disqualifies freedns.afraid.org.  It is otherwise a great service.

If there is something that you would like me to try out, or if there is another service that I missed, please drop me a comment.

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