Dynamic DNS

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Dynamic DNS is a method / protocol / network service that provides the capability for a networked device, such as a router or computer system using the Internet Protocol Suite, to notify a Domain Name System (DNS) name server to change, in real time, the active DNS configuration of its configured hostnames, addresses or other information.

A popular application of dynamic DNS is to provide a residential user's Internet gateway that has a variable, often changing, IP address with a well known hostname resolvable through standard DNS queries.

Contents

History

In the initial stages of the Internet (ARPANET) addressing of hosts on the network was achieved by static translation tables that mapped hostnames to IP addresses. The tables were maintained manually in form of the host file. The Domain Name System brought a method of distributing the same address information automatically online through recursive queries to remote databases configured for each network, or domain. Even this DNS facility still used static lookup tables at each participating node. IP addresses, once assigned to a particular host, rarely changed and the mechanism was initially sufficient. However, the rapid growth of the Internet and the proliferation of personal computers in the workplace and in homes created the substantial burden for administrators of keeping track of assigned IP addresses and managing their address space. The Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) allowed enterprises and Internet service providers (ISPs) to assign addresses to computers automatically as they powered up. In addition, this helped conserve the address space available, since not all devices might be actively used at all times and addresses could be assigned as needed. This feature required that DNS servers be kept current automatically as well. The first implementations of dynamic DNS fulfilled this purpose: Host computers gained the feature to notify their respective DNS server of the address they had received from a DHCP server or through self-configuration. This protocol-based DNS update method was documented and standardized in IETF publication RFC 2136 in 1997 and has become a standard part of the DNS protocol (see also nsupdate program).

The explosive growth and proliferation of the Internet into people's homes brought a growing shortage of available IP addresses. DHCP became an important tool for ISPs as well to manage their address spaces for connecting home and small-business end-users with a single IP address each by implementing network address translation (NAT) at the customer premise router. The private network behind these routers uses address space set aside for these purposes (RFC 1918), masqueraded by the NAT device. This, however, broke the end-to-end principle of Internet architecture and methods were required to allow private networks, with frequently changing external IP addresses, to discover their public address and insert it into the Domain Name System in order to participate in Internet communications more fully. Today, numerous providers, called Dynamic DNS service providers, offer such technology and services on the Internet.

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