Alternative to Dynamic DNS – Project Lighthouse

Picture of Lighthouse

Almost all Internet Service Providers (ISP) dynamically assign IP addresses.  With some you can request a static IP address.  Almost always this comes with a fee and from my experience is often reserved for only business accounts.

Many years ago, I wanted a way to get my home IP address if it changed.  One fairly easy approach is to use a Dynamic DNS provider or even in my case update the DNS for a third level domain.  I really didn’t like this route and ultimately chose another approach.  This was mainly because I didn’t want my home IP address in publicly facing DNS tables.

My solution was simple.  Add a php page that stores the IP address from a visitor and then provide a means to obtain the IP address later.  The visitor would be me.  I setup a cron job (Linux) or scheduled task (Windows) to call the URL on a daily/hourly basis.  Then if I were ever away from home and my IP address changed, I would be able to obtain it fairly quickly.

Now I’ll admit that this approach is not as seamless as a Dynamic DNS provider.  The drawback is that if you have a mobile application that allows you to put in a host (ip or dns) then you have to update the app when your IP address changes.

I coined this “Project Lighthouse” and I will be creating a quick tutorial in the event someone else can find some use for it.  Here are the things that you will need in order to get started:

  • public website that runs php
  • some device, like a computer running on your home network, that can call the URL ever so often.

If you don’t care to understand how all of this works — go ahead and jump to the last posting in this series to download the code.  If you do wish to see how this works, move on to Getting Started.

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