Have you ever wanted to host your own web or game server? Once you understand how DNS works, you’ll have learned the first steps to get you on the right track to setting up your very own server!

First things first, the acronym DNS stands for Domain Name Search and is operable through port number 53 of your connected device. You can think of DNS as a language translator because in principle, they do the same job. Every server hosted on the internet, be it a website, streaming, email and more is assigned a fixed IP address. Memorizing the number of all of these IP addresses is almost beyond human capability.

Even keeping notes of all the services that we use, we would end up filling countless pages of our diaries, writing a batch of six numbers at least, ranging from 1-255 for every single service that we usually use. It is much worse than what we were doing in the distant past when we used to list all the telephone numbers of our friends and acquaintances in a notebook.

Dynamic DNS IP addresses

Unlike static IP addresses, dynamic IP addresses are constantly changing. Imagine if your friends gave you a new phone number every few days replacing their current one only you have to memorize it, instead of writing it down. This is exactly what happens with dynamic IP addresses. The ISP (Internet Service Provider), a large corporate organization, every so often assigns new IP addresses, especially after rebooting their systems.

How dynamic IP addresses are assigned

ISPs assign websites a new dynamic IP through the Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP). This will assign one of the organization’s allotted IP addresses normally in the sequential order the requests are received. So, supposing that DHCP wouldn’t exist, if you host an online radio station and you have a dynamic IP, the users that connect to your radio must update your address all the time, and you would have to update the links.

Dynamic DNS helps the end user establish a fixed address for the service being rendered from his own computer, regardless of the fact that they have been assigned a dynamic IP address. If Dynamic DNS is being used, the user just sets the link once and might as well forget about it. This gives people peace of mind and also makes their lives much easier, thus increasing the likelihood of attracting a bigger audience.

Tips for using dynamic DNS (DDNS)

Avoid going for long names as they are not easy to remember by users.

Setting up Dynamic DNS is really easy. There are a lot of free DNS operators where one can run a simple Google search and just select from the results. A typical address format of a Dynamic DNA (DDNS) would be something like, yourpreferredname.operatorname.com. Avoid going for long names as they are not easy to remember by users, and also make sure that the DNS operator offers addresses without hyphens and/or lots of dots.

How does dynamic DNS work?

One major concern with using dynamic DNS is the waiting time for the change to take effect. Dynamic DNS services are updated either by a software or manually when the IP address changes. But worry not, as your DNS operator should immediately start ‘informing’ all DNS providers across the world wide web that your IP has changed, so the DNS lookup of each user will point at the new IP automatically.

Dynamic DNS address change

DNS changes should take effect within minutes but in rare cases, the process may take up to 72 hours. Additionally, not all users are updated at the same time. This means that there can be users who are able to access your service through your updated IP, but others would still have to wait until their DNS is refreshed, meaning they would still be directed to the old IP, and not be able to access your service.

There can be users who are able to access your service through your updated IP, but others would still have to wait until their DNS is refreshed.

Unfortunately, there’s nothing you can do about this issue. Just let the infrastructure of your DDNS operator communicate with the large number of DNS servers around cyberspace and do its job. You can also run a game server and share it with your friends or to anyone who visits your website. Please note that DDNS is not needed in cases where the user that is hosting a service, is assigned with a static IP address.

Static IP addresses

In case of static IP addresses, one has to go through a domain registrar, registering your preferred web address and then start assigning names to all the subdomains. A subdomain is x.yourorganization.org where x needs to be given a separate name for every different service hosted. Yourorganizaton.org is the static domain that you choose and it gets applied to all subdomains. The most common context is A record, translating a given IP to both.

The difference between dynamic DNS (DDNS) and static DNS

Besides A records, though not as common, you can find also Canonical Names (CNAMEs) which are aliases for other websites. You can set a subdomain, for example, x.yourorganization.org to point at y.otherwebsite.com without involving any numbers or IP addresses. Other scenarios of the same method are MX records which are static subdomain addresses given to static IP addresses hosting mail services such as the POP3 (Post Office Protocol, for receiving mail) and SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol, for sending mail).

Static IP addresses do not just come for free. They incur a nominal fixed fee every month, and it is payable to the Internet Service Provider (ISP). Moreover, the domain registrar also charges a fixed annual fee about the domain assigned, regardless of how many subdomains are registered and the number of A records/MX/CNAMEs are set up. Without a doubt, going for a dynamic IP address along with a DDNS is the cheaper option.

Cons of using a dynamic DNS

The only drawback for having multiple subdomains in a DDNS context is that every subdomain is registered with a different DDNS provider. In that case, a different app has to be installed for every different provider or else one can always opt to update their new IP address manually. We hope that this overview of setting up a DDNS has been beneficial to you and we guarantee that setup will be very easy.