How to Maintain a Connection to FileMaker Server on a Dynamic IP Address with DynDNS Updater


Dynamic IP Addresses

Overview

Once you have your FileMaker Server setup and accessible remotely, I recommend setting up Dyn.com Remote Access service. Their tagline is “Access your device or files using a unique hostname, instead of a confusing (and ever-changing) IP address.”

The reason you may need a service like this is because in many cases your Internet provider doesn’t want you to host services on your home or small business line. They will frequently change your network IP address to prevent you from hosting services.

What that means to your users, is that periodically they will have to call you up and complain ‘They changed the IP address again. What is it now?”, instead of being productive. Your Internet service provider (ISP) would rather upgrade you to a business package with a fixed IP address at an additional cost.

Fortunately, as with most things Internet-related, there is a workaround to this issue. For $25/year dyn.com will assign you a domain name for your server and help you keep the IP address up to date automatically.

What this will look like for your database users logging in remotely is, instead of entering an address like this with an IP address number in it:

fmnet:/205.160.1.125/MyBigFatDatabase.fp7

They would instead use something like this:

fmnet:/mbfd.is-very-nice.org/MyBigFatDatabase.fp7

Think of a domain name as a more memorable alias for the user-unfriendly number scheme (IP Addresses) that the Internet is built on.

Once you have the service setup and pointing at your FileMaker Server, you install a free client application called DynDNS Updater from Dyn.com on your FileMaker Server computer. This light-weight software app runs in the background and keeps track of your router’s IP address. If your ISP changes your IP address on you, the software will detect the change and update the remote domain name server. Best of all, no more phone calls from FileMaker Pro users needing to know the new IP address for the Server….

Create an account at Dyn.com

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Dyn.com Specifically, you are looking for the Remote Access package called DynDNS Pro.

Enter Account and Payment Details

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After entering a user name, password and email address, an account will be set up. You should receive a confirmation email from Dyn.com shortly.

Sign In

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You may need to sign in for the first time. The login is near the top right of the screen.

Click ‘My Services’ to begin

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Click the option ot ‘Add Host Services’ under My Hosts.

Adding a Host

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  1. Enter a host name
  2. Pick a domain name from the popup list
  3. Enter the IP address of your server. If you are creating this from the same network as your FileMaker Server computer, you can probably use the number from the line immediately below the IP Address field. If it is remote, go to the network that the FileMaker Server runs on (or call someone who is on it) and open a web browser to www.whatismyipaddress.com.
  4. Click ‘Add to Cart’ button. You have up to 30 domain names available on the basic $25/year plan, which you have already paid for if you are on this screen.

Domain name options

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Dyn.com has a large number of available domain names to select from. Enter the prefix for your server and select something that you won’t be too embarrassed to repeat over the phone to your users.

Congratulations, a Dynamic host name has been created.

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If you need to edit this host id, click the blue text of the domain host name to change the settings.

Download and install a DynDNS Update Client to run on your server

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Next, so you don’t have to update your IP address manually, download the DynDNS Updater client software. Select the update client for your platform, Mac, Windows or Linux.

Important Note: Install this software on your FileMaker Server computer.

Download Update Client

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This is what the Mac download looks like.

Double click downloaded .dmg file

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Open the .dmg file by double clicking on it. It should open as if it were another hard drive.

Drag DynDNS Update to your Applications folder

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Launch the application.

Setup DNS Update client

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Enter your user name and password to the dyn.com website

Note that this program runs as a daemon. That is, it will boot up when the computer is turned on, without showing any kind of user interface. In general, you should not have to make any changes, it should just run in the background, keeping the DynDNS server up to date on the local IP address.

Enter Domain Name

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Enter your account information.

Your domain names

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That’s it. Once you log in and setup the account, the DynDNS Updater software runs in the background and keeps your FileMaker Server up to date. If you ever want to check that it is working, just launch DynDNS Updater and check on it. You may want to click ‘refresh host list’ to see if everything is current. This software runs invisibly in the background, so you won’t see it unless you actually run it, after the initial setup.

For details about setting up FileMaker Remote access, please see my other blog posting on the topic.

Now you can distribute your new domain name to your FileMaker Pro users and they will be kept up to date without you having to do anything. For a consultant supporting numerous business, the $25 account for up to 30 domain names is a great deal. You can set up all your clients that need remote access using this service. Even for a single server, it seems worthwhile. I have been successfully running this software/service for a number of my customers for years and have never had a problem with it. It seems to be a highly reliable and worthwhile service.

 

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