Changing Dynamic DNS Hosts


I host a number of websites from home, and I don't have a fixed IP address, so I need to have a service which updates a DNS entry with my current IP address whenever it changes.

Fadó, fadó, in the early stage of the internet, there were free services that did this, but a whole bunch of them went away about 2009 or so, and eliminated their free tier. Back then, that service went from free to USD 25 per year, which I dutifully paid up at the time.

Now, it looks as though they're going to start charging USD 60 per year per domain for the service of having a DNS record that gets updated once a month or so. This is just unconscionable gouging as far as I am concerned, so I'm going to have to investigate the alternatives and see if there are any free options available (or free with some work on my part), or if I can settle for some service which is more affordable for me, while providing the same service.


  1. Identify alternative services
  2. Review the service that they actually provide
  3. Identify the cost of the service they provide
  4. Determine if 2. and 3. make financial sense
  5. Determine the scope of work required to switch to another service
  6. Switch (if good alternative found)
  7. Monitor the performance of the new service
  8. After a period of time, review the performance of the chosen service and decide what, if any, action needs to be taken.

So What do I need to be provided?

My core requirements are as follows:

  • Provide DNS services for at least two (2) domains that I own and host from home;
  • Allow me to update the DNS for those domains using (preferrably) ddclient (No particular reason for that, that's just how I'm setup at the moment and it would require the fewest changes.);
  • Cost less than;
  • be reliable.

What else?

  • Allow for additional domains to be added if I need to, (i.e., not have a per domain cost);
  • Cope with possibly shifting the hosting side of things to a Linode instance at some point.

Alternative Services

So, what alternatives are there? I did some basic searches and came up with the following:

Yes, I included DynDNS in there. They still provide the service, and there is a chance that there would be no competitive services available, or that any decent alternative would require vast amounts of input on my part.

DynDNS is what I'm using now. It has the lowest transition cost (free: Yay!), but will cost USD 60 per domain to renew (Boo!). This is almost twice what it was last year (USD 35 each), and is a thoroughly ridiculous amount of money for hosting a few Zone files.

It has been very reliable, though: I've been using DYNDNS since 2009, and I think I've had to make a change once in all that time. This is good, as I travel a lot and I'm not always available to solve DNS problems.

So there's the baseline: the replacement service has cost less than USD 120 per year, and not cause headaches, or need constant attention. That seems like a pretty low bar... requires a USD10 registration fee before letting me see what services are available. While I recognise that free internet services still cost money to run, this is a little off putting.

Searching around for reviews of their service finds very little, and a few indications that they nearly went out of business last year, and relaunched this year. Sounds like a little bit too much drama for what I want!

I think I'll give this company a skip, unless I have no alternative.

FreeDNS enforces sharing of domain names, unless you go premium, and this is USD 60 / year. Not really what I want.

Zonomi charges USD10 per year for two domains. This looks promising, so I set up a free account, and I'll go down my list looking through the others.

Hurricane Electric: Good old reliable HE (I've been using them for IPv6 for years)! They have a free service that appears to be a bit cryptic to setup and requires a bit of DNS knowledge. But if you don't understand A records, CNAMES, MX records, etc you have no business doing any of this setup in the first place, and should go look at a hosted service.

Time to test: register a domain (, only $4.99 at HOVER) and setup the delegation and the updater client:

vim /etc/ddclient.conf

protocol=dyndns2,,, password=[REDACTED]

Musical interlude with some noodling around at (why can you only see the setup instructions when you're logged out?)

$ dig
;         IN  ANY

;; ANSWER SECTION:      86400   IN  SOA 2016050812 10800 1800 604800 86400      86400   IN  MX  10      296 IN  A      707 IN  NS      707 IN  NS      707 IN  NS      707 IN  NS      707 IN  NS

This seems to be working, so I think I'll turn off the auto-renew on the DYNDNS account, delete my credit card details from there, and start setting up the other domains.

I stopped going down the list at this point, so I didn't try out any of the other services.

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This page contains a single entry by dave published on May 8, 2016 8:46 PM.

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