Today I’m pleased to introduce a new, free service which makes the Internet easier to use for the hundreds of millions of people with a dynamic IP address: DNS-O-Matic.

DNS-O-Matic logo

DNS-O-Matic gives you a free and easy way to announce your dynamic IP changes to multiple services with a single update.

No idea what I’m talking about? Well here’s the super-abridged version:

  • Your computer has something called an IP address associated with it that is unique on the Internet, a lot like a phone number is unique.
  • IP addresses are how computers reach each other, just like we use phone numbers to reach our friends on the phone.
  • Unfortunately, unlike phone numbers, most residential ISPs (Comcast, AT&T, Verizon, etc.) give you a dynamic IP address instead of one that is static (stays the same).
  • Whenever your IP changes, it can make it hard for certain network services to figure out how to reach you.
  • DNS-O-Matic fixes that.

DNS-O-Matic solves this problem in a very general way that provides immense benefits to network service providers (like OpenDNS), software developers and, of course, users like yourselves. A lot of small businesses and remote offices have dynamic IPs: DNS-O-Matic is for you, too.

Most importantly, it’s completely free for all parties involved.

Solving a troublespot for OpenDNS customers

OpenDNS offers a lot of benefits on top of our free, fast, reliable DNS service. All of these benefits are tied to your current IP address. For those with static, unchanging IP addresses, this has always been simple. For dynamic IP addresses (the majority of home users), this requirement has meant an extra step: installing or configuring software to send updates when your IP changes. It’s never been as easy as we want.

Some of our more technical OpenDNS customers who use dynamic DNS hostnames asked for a way to use that hostname to track their changing IP. We took a wider view and came up with a scalable solution that helps our users, and is available to any company who needs to solve this problem.

Creating a broader opportunity for the industry

Like we did with PhishTank, OpenDNS is solving an industry-wide problem with a scalable and open solution. DNS-O-Matic works because everyone involved in the Dynamic IP process benefits:

First: Every one of the hundreds of millions of Internet users with a dynamic IP address can now share their dynamic IP changes with all the services they care about in one update. One IP update will be redistributed to every service you subscribe to. New services are automatically supported without requiring you to download anything or buy a new device.

Second: Developers of dynamic IP update software can support multiple services — current and future — by supporting a single, free API. One of the reasons that hardware vendors only support one or two Dynamic DNS services is that it’s hard to add support for each and every one in their hardware device. Now they only need to support one standard and they can offer their customers the ability to use ANY or ALL services. That’s a huge win for software developers. There’s already a healthy list of software that can send updates to DNS-O-Matic. The list will grow quickly; let us know if you have an addition.

Third: Dynamic DNS service providers (like DynDNS, No-IP, ChangeIP, etc.) now benefit from increased distribution. As DNS-O-Matic support spreads, all the supported services become available to new customers without any effort. OpenDNS will add new services to that list as requested.

More importantly, new services have an immediate user-base from which to offer their service. There is a lot of opportunity for applications to take advantage of DNS-O-Matic. Everything from your Slingbox to your Xbox 360 could use DNS-O-Matic and make it easier to manage network devices at home or at work.

Supporting new services is easy

During the private beta, a DNS-O-Matic user suggested we add support for the BroadbandReports.com Line Monitoring service. We hadn’t heard of this worthwhile service before but adding support for it in DNS-O-Matic took about 30 minutes and was immediately available to every DNS-O-Matic user.

Thanks are in order…

During the building of DNS-O-Matic, we’ve been thrilled to have the support of so many individuals and companies in the DNS world. DNS-O-Matic helps make services easier to use and businesses easier to operate because complementary (and even competitive) businesses are working together. Our thanks to the many developers and service providers we’ve spoken to recently: we look forward to more collaboration. We’re also grateful to our beta testers.

Why DNS-O-Matic?

Oh, and the name DNS-O-Matic? We chose that name because it’s fun to say and memorable. It’s also a hat tip to Ping-O-Matic, a service from some of the lead developers of WordPress for redistributing blog update notifications to dozens of services. It’s simple, free and stable — three attributes we respect a lot in a great service and will uphold with ours.

Finally

You can learn more in the DNS-O-Matic FAQ. The OpenDNS knowledge base has more information on Internet Protocol (IP) addresses and an explanation of dynamic IP addresses.

Let us know what you think!

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