A dynamic DNS can cause you quite a headache down the road after installing a CCTV security camera system.  For that reason, it's better to deal with it right away than wait until it becomes a major problem for you.  The truth is, if you wait for it to become a problem, you probably won't be in a position to fix it in the immediate future.

It's a little difficult to explain what the Domain Name System (DNS) is but we're going to give it a shot.  The Domain Name System essentially converts the URL of a website into an IP address that the magical world of the internet can actually understand.  This means that every website you go to is actually just numbers when you get right down to it.  We know this might already be getting confusing so it's time for some visual aids.  We're going to use Google as our example.


Our first image is just of the Bing homepage.  Nothing significant; we just need to start somewhere.



This next image shows us entering the current IP address for Google's homepage.



In this last image, you'll see that we're on the Google homepage, but instead of seeing www.google.com in the URL, you only see the IP address.



Now, the reason this works and appears like this is because there's no difference between www.google.com and the IP address that we've entered.  They both mean the same thing to the internet because of DNS.

The Domain Name System exists to make things easier on all of us.  It's a lot easier for us to remember names of websites than it is for us to memorize all of their IP addresses.  The other reason is what you would have found if you've already tried testing this yourself using the IP address that we did.

If you've tested this, you've probably found that the IP address that we used didn't take you anywhere but an error page.  The reason for this is companies like Google periodically rotate through all of there available IP addresses.  The IP address that we entered won't work again until this rotation makes a full circle and ends up back on that address.

Lots of companies implement a system like this for a reason and, this time, it is to make things difficult.  Not difficult for someone who enjoys using the Google browser, but difficult for someone trying to hack them.  As an ordinary user of Google, you'll never know that these addresses are changing.  This is largely a way for people and companies to protect themselves.

Google's way of dynamic DNS is fairly unique.  For most of us, our IP addresses will be changed by our internet service provider (ISP) to a seemingly random new set of numbers.  This is the standard setup for most internet service providers now.  While it's inconvenient for a CCTV system, it's there to protect you.  It's a little hard to be mad at them for that.

How does this relate to you?

Whether you have a website or not, you do have a network IP address.  If you have a dynamic DNS, this address is going to change on you periodically.  This matters when it comes to your ability to access your DVR remotely.  The IP address that you're using to access the DVR remotely is actually your network's IP address.

How do I get my IP address?

The way you obtain your network IP address is to use websites like whatismyip.com.  If you followed the link, then you should already see your network's IP address being displayed where it says "Your IP."  As long as you are accessing the internet through devices inside of your network, this address will be identical on all of those devices.

Here's the problem...

We're going hypothetical again so bear with us.  Let's say your CCTV system is installed in your home.  When you go out of town, you like to check up on things by accessing your DVR from that remote location on your smartphone.  That's all well and good, but when you added that DVR as a device into your smartphone, you entered the network IP address at that time in order for it to work remotely like this.  If you have a dynamic DNS and your IP address changes while you're away, you'll find yourself unable to view your DVR anymore.  You might think this is simple because you just need to put in the new IP address.  My question for you would be, "How do you get it?"  You can't use whatismyip.com anymore because you're no longer located within the same network as your DVR.  This goes back to what we said about taking care of this problem before it becomes one.


If you've stumbled into this article looking for ways of fixing this from afar, here are some options.  The first is to call your ISP and ask them to to provide you with your current IP address; sometime this works and sometimes they have no idea what you're talking about.  If you have the option, in the short term, one of the easiest solutions would be to have someone access a site like whatismyip.com on location with the DVR and provide you with the new address.  You can also use remote access programs like LogMeIn or TeamViewer if you have them installed on devices in the network with your DVR.  After logging into the device, just go the same website we've been using and you'll have what you need.

Obviously these are temporary and often inconvenient fixes to the problem.  What you should ultimately be shooting for is a permanent solution and here it is.  Find someone to manage your dynamic IP address for you.  We strongly recommend using a company like No-IP.  As you'll see, it's not exactly a large investment.  The alternative is to purchase a "static" IP address from your internet service provider.  The end result is the same, but you'll probably find that your ISP is going to charge you considerably more than what No-IP can potentially do for free.

Dynamic DNS can be intimidating to research.  Hopefully we've made this easy enough for you to begin working on a solution.  Regardless of the method you choose, the best solution for the problem is going to be the one that let's you access your CCTV system when you need or just want to.

Don Stephens is a Technical Support Manager at CCTV Camera World, a leading Security Camera distributor located in Buffalo, NY. His area of expertise is in designing professional security camera systems for medium and large scale businesses, schools, and government projects.

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