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The Basics

What is DNS?
While a lot of the underpinnings of how DNS works can seem complex, it's a simple concept. Computers find each other via numbers. Humans are bad at that, and prefer names. DNS stands for the Domain Name System, and it's the mechanism that allows a computer network (like the internet) to convert names into numbers, so humans can find computing services easily.
So then, what is Dynamic DNS?

The numbers assigned to your computer from your internet provider aren't usually guaranteed to be the same all the time. Most service providers charge extra for what they consider "business class" needs, and that can make it difficult to run your own services reliably.

DNS records normally take time to update and propagate across the internet. If you have services you're providing and your IP address changes, your services will be unavailable while DNS catches up. Unlike normal domains, dynamic DNS records are set to expire very quickly, so old or outdated information is refreshed within minutes. Your IP addresses can change often, and you'll still be reachable at the same domain name. No one that wants to reach your computer need remember what your IP address is, including you.

My IP doesn't change. Can I still use StaticCling?
Of course! There could be other reasons a StaticCling account could be of use for you. Subdomains for mobile devices, separate work/home records, load balancing lookups, or just a free alternative to registering and maintaining a separate domain name.
Why is this free? What's the catch?

No catch. We started this up way back in May of 2001 after another provider we used (for a internet gateway to a local BBS) shut down suddenly. IP addresses changed much more frequently back then with dialup than they do with broadband providers now, but the need for this service isn't going anywhere. Mobile devices change IPs constantly, and even when IPv6 is the standard and your refrigerator is internet accessible -- everyone can still benefit from free, easy to use DNS.

Since 2001, there are of course a lot of other DNS providers that have cropped up that offer a dynamic component. Our goal isn't to offer every bell and whistle in the name of competition. Keeping it free means we can keep things simplistic and not feel guilty about it. Simple means reliable, easy to understand, and easy to use. If you need something more, by all means -- pay for it. We won't think badly of you. :)

With that said, running this service does cost money for hardware, bandwidth, and colocation rentals. If you want to help out, donations are certainly appreciated -- and as a 'thank you', your account will no longer be subject to inactivity expirations.

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How long until changes are live?

At the longest, 5 minutes until you see record changes take effect in active DNS. This includes both the speed of our updates and DNS time to live.

Why is my account inactive?

Have you updated it recently? There are two actions taken on idle accounts. The first is simply to mark it as inactive, and take it out of the zone listings. The account itself still exists, it's just not going to be reachable to the outside world. This happens after a month of inactivity. As soon as you update your record, you've got another month from that point forward.

The second action is to completely remove the account, making it available for others to register. This happens after 4 months of complete inactivity.

Can I have more than one account?
Yup, no problem, within the boundaries of common sense. Don't just reserve names, as squatting is a form of abuse. Please use your best judgement, and consider using multiple records (subdomains) for a single account over registering multiple accounts.
Are there limitations to what I can serve from my account?
Nope. We simply provide a 'pointer' to your computer. What you do with that is your business - it's your computer, after all. By the same token, we're not responsible if you are serving questionable content. If you are here to report an abuse issue, you are probably in the wrong place. StaticCling domain names are not part of the StaticCling network - these issues need to be taken up with the provider of the IP address itself. There are some rare circumstances where we will need to step in and disable an account - for example, if you decide to spam advertising for your StaticCling domain, or use it for phishing scams. Even if we aren't responsible for the spam, it still makes us look bad, and we don't like that. Don't be a jerk.
Are there any desktop clients?
There will be, but not quite yet. If you're a developer and would like to make one, that'd be great! We have a public API which you can read about here. We also supply a client script, suitable for running from cron or the command line.

Website Questions

I keep getting an SSL error.
We use a certificate from CACert, who's trust isn't installed by default in most browsers. It's perfectly secure, you just need to tell your browser that certificates that come from CACert are okay! Find more information on doing so here.
How do I change my user picture?
The picture you see when you log in is generated from the Gravatar service, based on your email address.
Why is your validation captcha so hard?

Since we offer this service for free, we're a target for robotic signups that use their accounts for link spam and phishing scams. We originally used a common/popular captcha service to help counter this, but as time went on it became less and less effective. This was mainly due to actual humans getting paid to solve captcha challenges, but I also felt that they had become increasingly difficult to read for legitimate users -- defeating a core purpose of captchas and just becoming plain annoying.

You only need to solve the captcha when signing up for a new account. Afterwards, you'll never see it again. It strikes a good balance between being easy to read, hard for a computer to automate, and expensive (in time) for jerks to pay people to solve for them in bulk. If you have an accessibility issue due to a disability and are unable to solve it, please , and we'll get you squared away.

Why don't you update news more often?
To say what? Things just keep on trucking along, and we're happy with it that way. Please don't take a lack of news updates as an indication of disinterest. :-) No news is good news!

Advanced Usage

What's a wildcard record?

It's a "catchall" for any lookup against that domain. As an example, if it were enabled on the primary record of the mahlon account, the following lookups would all be successful without needing to make separate records, and they'd all resolve to the same IP address:

  • mahlon.staticcling.org
  • woo.hoo.mahlon.staticcling.org
  • these.can.be.rather.long.if.you.want.mahlon.staticcling.org

This becomes really useful if you're running a web server that understands virtual hosts.

I own my own domain. Can I still use StaticCling?
Absolutely. Just make the record under your domain that you'd like to be dynamic a CNAME with a TTL of 300 seconds, pointed to your StaticCling record. That's it! Your domain's record is now mirrored against your StaticCling account.
Do you support machines behind NAT/IPMasq?
It's up to the client to find what your "real" IP address is, but clients can do so easily using our API. Please note that if you want to serve data or games from behind NAT, your NAT/IPMasq router needs to support connection redirects or port forwarding, and be properly configured to do so.
Why don't you support MX records?
If you're running an SMTP server at the same location as what your record resolves to, you don't need an MX record. Mail servers will use the A record. If you are doing something more elaborate than that, and need numerous MX records, weights, domain-keys or otherwise... you will probably be better off using a NS subdelegation from StaticCling to your own zone server, where you can have full control of all records under your account namespace.
Can my records be load balanced or randomized?
Sure! Just make additional records with the same name/subdomain that point to different IP addresses. Each DNS lookup will provide a random result from the list.