hosting

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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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This blog has moved.  The URL is the same, but its location in the world has changed.  It’s now hosted at a 3rd party site instead of being at my residence.   Here’s why.

I am not a business:

Carries argue that you are a business if you require a static IP address.   In fact, static IP addresses are not available in most carriers’ standard plans.  They assume that people who subscribe to their service are content consumers and not content containers.  Businesses, on the other hand, are assumed to be content containers and are permitted to have a static IP address.

This wouldn’t be an issue if there wasn’t such a dramatic price differential.   Plans that contain static IP addresses are two times as much as their counterparts.  Why?  In my case, this makes no sense.  There is no profit motive behind what I would do with the IP.  Why am I considered a business?

A good solution, from a consumer standpoint, would be to separate users into different classes.  There are plenty of customers who do need the firewalling and don’t mind the dynamic IP that basic plans provide.  However, these features are just a nuisance to advanced users.  I would gladly pay $10 a month for a static IP.  Make it an option to add to the  plan.

Internet companies are potentially loosing money because they are not providing the services people want.  A $40 basic plan vs a $80 business plan is a no-brainier, but if there was a $60 option in there…..

I am not a hosting company:

There are things that I can do better than the hosting company and things that I do poorly.  Daily SQL backups, running in a dedicated Xen VM, chrooting the Apache server, as much processor as I can use, and the availability of any piece of _free_ software I want to install, are all benefits of having a server at home.  The technical word for it is a playground.  I can do anything I want or am able to do (which is ~anything).

The hosted world provides better uptime, better speed, and manages the system and network administration.  The best part about hosting is the cost.  It’s $7 a month for me to host this and as many other sites that I’d like to build.

I am not average:

Giving up the network administration and the system administration was a tough decision for me.  It has been fun.  Everyone running DD-WRT using VLANS, custom firewall rules, and OpenVPN understands.  Likewise, everyone running XEN on a VLANed host, with more customer firewall rules, and mod_security understands.

But why:

It was fun to host, but did it amount to anything?  The skills I picked up aren’t ones that I use on a daily basis anymore.  I haven’t risen to celebrity status, or really had that many visits (this is more of a content issue).  It was a good amount of fun while it lasted, now I’ve been there, done that, and I could do it again.  But why?

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