Ever wondered how to connect to your home computer from the office, school, or anywhere with an Internet connection? It’s possible, and that’s through a service called dynamic DNS.
Why would you want to have your home computer available on the Internet?
- a web server to share a website or downloadable files
- an ftp server for users (by account or anonymously) to upload and download files
- remotely control your desktop via VNC from another computer, or iPhone/iPod touch
- SSH in to launch X Window-based applications remotely (see my previoius post about this)
Of course, you restrict what your visitor can access using a firewall or router, so that the rest of the files on your computer and computers on the network are safe (you should be doing this anyways!)
So what’s wrong with finding out your IP address ( example, by http://whatismyipaddress.com/ ) and using this?
- not very friendly for public use (http://188.8.131.52/, compared to a URL, like https://javadocs.wordpress.com)
- subject to change, as controlled by your Internet Service Provider
There are many dynamic DNS services. The two most commonly used are:
Aside from offering different URLs to use (note, top-level domains like yourname.com are not available for free accounts; you will have selections similar to yourname.no-ip.com) these companies offer the same features. Setting up your computer is usually quite simple.
- Register for an account on one of the above services.
- Register one (or more) subdomains, which you will be using to access your computer with.
- Update the IP address associated with this subdomain. You can do this using the browser, but it’s best if you download and install their client – it will periodically synchronize your latest IP with the subdomain automatically.
- Wait about an hour (initially) for the new subdomain to become active.
On your home computer, run the server(s) you require. Note that if you have a firewall or router, you may have to allow incoming and outgoing connections to specific ports, such as http (80), ftp (21), ssh (22), vnc (5900). A quick search for the router or firewall you have for “port forwarding” should help you configure this. On many newer routers, it may even have a built-in dynamic dns client, so your computer wouldn’t need to do the updating. I have a previous post on setting up a web server here.
So now you can access your computer from anywhere; stay tuned as I show you how to put a dynamic dns client on your router and turn on your computer from anywhere in the world with open-source router firmware (if your router supports it…)!
So I just tried out a free, online remote desktop service called LogMeIn (https://secure.logmein.com/home.asp?lang=en) and I highly recommend it if you’re unwilling to go through all this setup. It allows you to remotely control your desktop (either by your account or invitation (great for tech support!) and apparently works behind routers, firewalls, and the like.