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What is Dynamic DNS and why do I need it?

By GabrielleSeptember 8, 2023No Comments

Dynamic DNS is a must-have for many private or small business users setting up a VPN server; particularly when using a typical, consumer ISP (internet service provider.) You will often see it referred to as an optional setup step in our VPN configuration guides, but what exactly is it?

In this quick guide, we take you through the basics of Dynamic DNS, including its main advantages and use cases, as well as how to get set up with a DDNS provider.


What is Dynamic DNS?

Dynamic DNS (DDNS) is a service that automatically updates DNS records whenever your dynamic IP address updates. For many (e.g. home or small business users), it's a convenient alternative to registering for a fixed IP address, which can often be expensive.

When do I need DDNS?

DDNS is most useful for users who don't have a permanent, static IP address from their ISP (internet service provider.) This is the case for most private users and also some small businesses (e.g. coffee shops, cafes or small offices.)

With a dynamic IP address, the IP address updates every few days, weeks or months. This means, if you want to set up a VPN server – i.e. for remote access to your home or work network, you have two options:

  1. Reconfigure the connection every time your IP address changes
  2. Register with your ISP for a fixed IP address (note this can be expensive and sometimes even impossible, as some ISPs reserve fixed IP addresses for bigger businesses)

This is where DDNS comes in. Instead of having to manually make changes to your VPN configuration, your DDNS provider will periodically check for updates to your IP address (e.g. from every hour to every few days) and update the DNS record accordingly. Easy.

In addition to VPN configuration, DDNS can also come in useful if you are hosting your own blog or website, connecting to devices in your Smart Home (i.e. cameras, alarms, etc.) or you want to reach a home server via the internet.

How to set up Dynamic DNS

To register for DDNS, you will first need to set up an account with a service provider.

You can then create your own hostname. Your service will provide a domain for you to use, this will then become the way you access your device via this internet (i.e. when setting up your VPN in VPN Tracker.)

Choose your DDNS hostname

If you are setting up DDNS for VPN, you'll need to enter your Dynamic DNS information on your router / gateway. More on that in the next section!

Which DDNS service provider should I use?

There are many Dynamic DNS services online and a quick Google search will provide you with a multitude of options, ranging from free, to freemium to paid (e.g. NO-IP, DynDNS, dynv6.)

If you are in the process of or planning on setting up a VPN server on your router, it's worth checking there first, as many vendors (e.g. ASUS and TP-Link) offer their own free DDNS service. Additionally, they will usually provide a list of supported vendors for you to use as a starting point.

For most consumer routers, you'll find the DDNS setup in the advanced settings. If you're not sure, refer to the gateway manual or contact their support team.

Dynamic DNS setup on a TP-Link Archer router

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