Review: Dynamic DNS for the Home
These days everyone seems to building their own infrastructure of web servers, VPN networks or internet cameras. In my case it is the latter, I’m using a home internet video monitoring service called Camcloud. This allows me to get my own IP cameras and plug them into the service. Perfect for monitoring my home when I’m gone or for just watching a live feed of what is going on at any time.
Sounds great, except one big problem. Like everyone else, I have a dynamic IP. That means my IP that I use to connect remotely to my camera can change. In fact with my provider it seems they like to change my IP at will. Very annoying and unpleasant if I keep having to find out the IP and updating the camera.
But there is a simple solution and it is called Dynamic DNS or DDNS. So I thought I would try out a few with my home monitoring service and my Axis M1031-W camera. There are several out there that may work but for the purposes of this review I’ll just focus on three:
I started with them as they offer a free service. Perfect, just the right cost. It was quite simple to sign up and very easy to use. Simply download some software, choose a hostname and keep that running on your system. Essentially it checks every 5 minutes (or some configurable amount of time) to see if it changed. If it detects a change, it assigns the new IP address to the hostname that you selected. The only problem is where you run the software. In my case I don’t really have a server computer to run the program all the time, really I don’t. I use laptops in my home that are always on the go. The next annoying part is that you have to confirm your account every month. Makes sense that they don’t want everyone to sit on these hostnames but still annoying.
I tried out DynDNS first as I’ve heard about them before. My first complaint was the trial session. They offer a 14 day trial license. Perfect to see if I could get this to work. However, just to get started I had to provide my credit card information just to move forward. Really? Just for a free trial? Against my better judgement I did it anyways. They are clear to show the checkout of $0. After this lengthy process I was eventually linked to a wizard to set me up. The wizard told me nothing, it was very confusing. Eventually I found what I needed to do (all on my own). I just need to add my entries to my router with the hostname, user and password as the diagram below.
This was much smoother. I sign in to get free 30 evaluation. The nice thing here is that they pointed me in the right direction from the start. When I sign up it gives me a email confirmation along with the 3 details that I need to add to my router. Along with that it points you right to the type of installation you want. So lots of great detail here, although I must say their main website is quite horrible.
Overall, the verdict for me is simple. I need DDNS to run on my router so No-IP is out. Since I had a better experience with TZO they will be my provider. I’ve been running it for some time now without problems. I should note that in terms of cost TZO is ~$25/year and DynDNS is ~$20/year. But in my opinion, DDNS is so important that these costs are really nothing and definitely well worth it.