WWW FAQs: How do I get a hostname for my home computer?


2006-01-25: To host a website at home, or host BitTorrent downloads at home, you need a way for others to find your computer on the Internet.

Right now, your computer at home -- or, more likely, your connection sharing device, such as a wireless router -- probably has a dynamic IP address. That means that other users can only refer to your computer by a cryptic address that doesn't mean much to human beings, such as 10.250.17.234. And if your IP address is dynamic, it changes every time you reconnect to your DSL or cable modem provider.

Even if your IP address is static, you still need a way for users to access your site by name, instead of by number... unless you're willing to put up with a URL like http://10.250.17.234/. And you might change ISPs. So I recommend following this article's recommendations anyway. If a URL like that doesn't bother you, and you're sure you won't change ISPs and that you have a static IP address, You may skip this step. If you don't know which you have, you probably have a dynamic IP address.

So how can we give out a reliable address to folks who want to connect to our website or BitTorrent tracker... for free? Easily: we'll use a dynamic DNS service, such as freedns.afraid.org. freedns.afraid.org offers free dynamic and static DNS services.

Other similar services do exist. Many players in this space were formerly free but now charge for the service.

Visit the freedns.afraid.org site, or that of a similar free DNS service, and set up a dynamic IP DNS account for yourself. freedns.afraid.org offers DNS subdomain names in hundreds of domains so you can avoid paying for domain registration if you don't need the professionalism of your own .com address.

freedns.afraid.org can also host DNS for your own purchased domain name.

freedns.afraid.org offers free client software to update your IP automatically each time it changes so that your domain name follows you everywhere you go. Even if you change from cable modem to DSL or vice versa, your dynamic DNS will still be updated to point to the right place. Neat, huh?

Now you have your very own hostname on the Internet... for free! For most people, the next step is to assign a static local IP address to your computer so that you have a fixed address on your home network to forward web or BitTorrent traffic to.

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