Key Factors to Consider When Selecting a Dynamic DNS Provider for Your Needs
Choosing the right Dynamic DNS (DDNS) provider can be a daunting task. With an abundance of providers to choose from, each offering a different range of services, it can be hard to know which one will be the best Dynamic DNS provider for you, and fit your needs both presently and in the future.
When evaluating your DDNS provider, you should be looking at these eight characteristics to match you with the best offering available.
With the monthly subscription cost of cloud solutions to accessing devices adding up and a single static IP address easily exceeding $20/mo, the right Dynamic DNS service can not only cut costs, but provide additional services. When evaluating which provider meets your needs the best, ask yourself a few questions, for a true cost/benefit analysis:
- Where are you in your need for DDNS? Are you dependent on remote access to work? Are you a gamer looking for a reliable connection to your Minecraft server?
- Do you need ease of use? If an interface is complex, will you be able to get your DDNS configured quickly?
- Do you need customer support? Are you equipped to update your router settings and set up your service on your own? Whether you need help setting up a DDNS or want support for more technical add-ons to future-proof your system, is your provider available to help?
Now apply your responses to DDNS provider costs and features, which can vary widely depending on the provider, or even if you opt to architect DDNS servers on your own.
- Setting up on your own: We often hear of small businesses like camera installers, DVR installers, and domain/hosting platforms opting for way-too-expensive technology or trying to spin up a DDNS server on their own. Unfortunately, this process rarely works and can be more costly than choosing the right provider from the get-go. Unless you have experience in this arena, it’s typically more cost-effective to leverage a provider for DDNS and look for premium offerings to go alongside the service to help scale your business needs.
- DDNS provider infrastructure: The cost by the provider will vary based on their product offerings, and levels of support. While there are a handful of free providers out there to consider, weigh your options carefully. Many have weak infrastructure, and limited points of presence across the globe, which can eventually lead to unexpected downtime that causes lost revenue, or the inability to access your device when you need it. Why have home security cameras if you aren’t able to access them when you hear a sound in the middle of the night? Whether you opt for a free or premium service, ensure the provider you select is reputable and has the infrastructure to support 100% uptime.
- Comprehensive features: Some free providers offer only DDNS as a service with few options for add-ons or safeguards to keep your connection secure. Look for providers who also offer more premium services such as SSL certificates, custom domains, and customer support for added security and reliability. Regardless of whether you plan to use premium add-ons now, it’s wise to see the breadth and scope of a DDNS provider’s services so that if the time comes, you don’t have to begin evaluation again.
While cost is important and often one of the first factors you may consider, don’t forget to weigh overall value as well.
Imagine you wake up one day, and log on to your computer, only to realize your desktop looks nothing like what you left it as before signing off the night before.
For one Reddit user, this was a reality. They share a story about how “Somehow, somebody got remote access to my computer,” and changed the background on their computer.
While this particular scenario may feel lighthearted, it’s truly terrifying!
You have critical information stored on your computers and servers, and if an adversary gains your connection information, you need to ensure you’re protected. In addition to keeping firmwares up-to-date, look for a provider that offers extra protection for your Dynamic DNS with features like:
- Encryption, such as SSL or TLS, to secure your data
- Two-factor Authentication
To ensure you’re able to access your devices and servers when you need them most, assess what your provider promises regarding uptime. If a flood swept away the entire west coast, would your provider still have ample DNS protection to keep your DDNS operable, so you can access your sites, devices, and servers? Do they have the infrastructure to have that up and guarantee 100% uptime? Look for providers who have a presence across the globe for an indicator of how robust their infrastructure is.
Secondly, if you’re deciding whether a DDNS is even worth it, consider this scenario. Let’s say you have a dynamic IP address, as many home internet services do. And, you’re a business owner needing to access a file on your home computer to show a client. You attempt remote access using your latest IP information, only to realize the address changed without you knowing. Every moment you’re unable to access your information adds stress and potentially lost earnings or unnecessary stress. If your home security alarm goes off while you’re out of town, you should be able to check your cameras immediately. The right DDNS provider ensures you have a reliable solution for accessing what you need, when you need it.
4. Ease of Use
Some DDNS providers have interfaces and resources that require a steeper learning curve, and deeper technical acumen, for setup than others.
If you’re new to the DDNS game, find a provider with support and ample setup instructions to help you get off and running faster. You can typically observe this by looking at a provider’s website, and quickly see how much information is readily accessible. If there is information, is it easy to consume or written for a more technical audience?
This is an indication of what their interface will look like also, and how user-friendly it is to find options and menus when you’re leveraging the system.
Other providers, for example, will not only have a an extensive Knowledge Base with easy-to-comprehend setup instructions, but should also have a Device Configuration Assistant, for even more personalized assistance, a team of ready to help if you need it.
The best providers, who have loyal customers, might also have user-generated content like videos on YouTube showcasing the process in an unbiased way.
Even with the best instructions for getting started, you still may hit some stumbling blocks while setting up. And if not as you set up, it’s possible along the way you’ll have questions or needs that you’ll want to be addressed immediately.
Some DDNS providers, especially those that offer free services, may not have a support channel set up for you to utilize. And scouring the internet or posting on Reddit may not get you the answers you need quickly – or even at all.
To give yourself peace of mind, look for a provider that has a team of technical experts to offer support via email or over the phone, so that you have backup whenever you need it. Even better, if you’re looking for even quicker service or that white glove support, look for a provider that offers a premium support option. The more comprehensive a support program, the more guarantees you have around uptime, and reliability of service.
If you’re just dipping your toes into the waters of what a DDNS provider can do for you, you may be only looking at cost during your evaluation. But the truth is, as you become more versed in owning your domains, setting up private servers, and automating your home, among other cool things, you’ll want a tool that can grow with you.
By looking for a Dynamic DNS provider with robust settings, a full suite of add-ons, and premium product offerings, it becomes easier to customize and expand your DDNS capabilities without disrupting your service.
Additionally, technology is constantly evolving, and some DDNS providers do a better job of keeping pace than others. Take for example IPv4 and IPv6. IPv6 is the next generation Internet Protocol (IP) address standard which is set to eventually replace IPv4. While this is commonly known across Dynamic DNS providers, some DDNS solutions still only support IPv4. As you research the best solution for your needs, consider a provider who you can rely on to future-proof your network.
Identifying the features you want from your DDNS provider will likely be the most technical portion of your evaluation process. A quick cheat sheet of features to balance might be:
- How many hostnames do you want
- Do you need a custom hostname
- Do you need SSL for added security
There are also more technical considerations like advanced DNS records (A, AAAA, CNAME, Web Redirect, Port 80 Redirect, and MX, TXT, SPF, DKIM, SRV, CAA) that not every provider offers.
Again, think about what you need from your DDNS provider, and where you are in your technical journey. There is sure to be a provider who checks off the boxes you need now, and perhaps down the line as you scale your needs.
Just like you check Yelp before hitting a new restaurant, checking reviews and feedback from existing customers of your potential DDNS provider is another due diligence checkbox to mark off.
While looking at reviews look for keywords, like the features and functionality that are most important to you to see what customers are saying. How is a provider’s uptime? How about their service capabilities?
Looking for a tool that has all of this and more?
Look no further than No-IP.
No-IP is a leader in domain name services (DNS) for 20+ years, with a focus on Dynamic DNS, along with Managed DNS services and other solutions for more than 30 million internet users — from home users to small businesses to Fortune 500 companies.
No-IP guarantees 100% uptime with our Global Anycast Network, offers a full suite of product offerings, support for both IPv4 and IPv6, and so much more. Whether you’re looking to access your computers remotely, monitor IP cameras, run home servers, or stay connected with friends while gaming, you can unlock the potential of the internet with No-IP today.
Sign up for your Free Dynamic DNS account now!