If you’re like me, and a bit of a newbie to the technology industry, you’re probably wondering “what is a DNS server, and how can it help me?” To put it simply, a DNS (short for Domain Name System) server is a computer server that contains a database of public IP addresses, along with their associated hostnames. It also works to translate those hostnames into IP addresses as requested by the user. Basically, the DNS server makes IP addresses easier to understand and remember. DNS servers can also run special software, and communicate with each other using special protocols. A dynamic DNS, called a DDNS, keeps IP addresses consistent, as it associates your IP address with a consistent domain name. DDNS systems also help avoid the high prices of static IP addresses. To get a fuller picture of what DNS servers do, check out this blog post by 101domain.
Without DNS servers, it would be a lot more challenging to find things on the internet, as users would have to remember an entire IP address rather than a short, simple website name. Imagine having to type a long string of numbers instead of typing “www.twitter.com” every time you want to share, say, this article with your followers. Another thing to note is that dynamic DNS systems keeps consistency in IP address, which can change if you are using a free primary DNS system.
Now that we know what DNS servers are, let’s look at the pros and cons of 5 different Dynamic DNS servers that can help you store your information more effectively. A quick note: most of these tools are completely free, with the option to pay for upgraded services.
Pros: The site has a minimal presentation, and is simple to set up. This server also offers static DNS services, if you are interested in purchasing them, as well as increased capacity, if you need more DNS storage. The base package also comes with 5 free shared hostnames, used anywhere, and 20 free subdomains per domain. It also sorts accounts by popularity, lists whether they are public or private, and states the age and the name of the owner, all in an easy to read chart.
Cons: This site has a relatively low number of domains (55,386 and changing daily), compared to other sites, such as afaid.org, which have up to 99,000. Additionally, the custom domain names from FreeDNS are shared across all users, limiting privacy. Other than these few issues, this site is one of the top rated ones, receiving mostly 4 and 5 star reviews from spiceworks.
Check out FreeDNS here.
2: Securepoint DynDNS
Pros: A Germany-based DDNS provider, this host is completely free. This provider also fits into firewall and manufacturer’s devices. It is considered a “secure point” provider, but does not require a “secure point” device. This site is also largely anonymous, and registration is quick and easy. Secure point has an interesting security system, where they use update tokens. Only the host knows these tokens, which increases security. This server also supports IPv6 addresses.
Cons: The site only offers five different hosts and one-hundred domains, though that does seem to be standard for free DDNS servers. However, this site does not offer additional paid services. Furthermore, since it is Germany-based, users outside of Germany may not be able to immediately contact the hotline number listed on the website. This probably will not affect you, but it is important to be aware of this, especially for customer service needs.
Check out Securepoint DynDNS here.
Pros: The free version of this server provides reliable DNS uptime through servers across the world. Top-level domains will work, regardless of the country they belong to. The free version automatically updates DNS records when your IP address changes. The paid version includes email service, domain registration, and SSL certificates for 500 subdomains, which is $9.99 per year. This service allows you to use top-level domains as well, which are included in the paid package.
Cons: All services are available on the free version, but they only apply to four subdomains. Some users have also reported errors with the control panel, as well as difficulty recognizing email addresses, which is definitely something to be aware of. They also are more expensive should you choose to go premium, with a corporate account starting at $99.99.
Check out Dynu here.
Pros: Free users get three subdomains and a limited range of domain names, and the subdomains do not expire, granted you confirm activity every 30 days. This server includes port forwarding and URL forwarding. The paid version, which is $24.95 per year, has 25 subdomains, and more than 80 domain name options. You also do not have to confirm activity.
Cons: To use your own domain, you will have to upgrade the package, which costs $29.95 per year, and limits the subdomains to 50. Additionally, according to makeusof.com, No-IP has been shifting towards being a premium service over the past couple of years.
Check out No-IP here.
Pros: I always appreciate a site with a creative name, and they have a variety of features, such as free DNS, Dynamic DNS, and Static DNS services. There are free options for subdomain and domain hosting, URL redirection, reverse IPv6 DNS hosting, and backup DNS. The paid services offer an increased capacity. Additionally, there are an unlimited number of domains per account, and you can choose from over 90,000 domains, all of which offer URL redirection. The set up is easy, and takes about 5 minutes to complete. The premium account is $5 per month, and you get an additional 50 subdomains, a wildcard DNS, and stealth flags, which hides your domains from sharing mechanisms.
Cons: There does there appear to be a way you can upgrade this server to get your own domain name. Similar to FreeDNS, the domains are “shared” unless you are able to pay for an upgrade. Because of this, some users have reported unknown certificates against their domain names.