Dynamic DNS and your Media Center

Dyanmic DNS and your Media Center

For those of you who have never heard of dynamic DNS, let me give you a brief intro.  Dynamic DNS is a service that will basically give you a web address for your home network.  This means that if you have a Internet Service Provider that does not provide you with a static IP address, you always know you can use that dynamic DNS address to get to your network.  Let me give you a brief rundown of how you can use this to benefit your Media Center.

Dynamic DNS Providers

Personally, I use http://www.No-IP.com.  This provider is free and will provide you with a subdomain on one of the domains they own.  For instance, www.BobFamily.servebeer.com.  This is a no frills provider that will give you this service and all you have to do is click a link that comes in your e-mail every 90 days or so just to confirm you are still using this service.  For those Tomato & DDWRT custom firmware users; your home routers will even do the automatic updating for you!

 

Once registered, setting up DDNS on your router

Once you are all registered with your dynamic dns provider, you can go to the web interface for your home router.  For most of you, it will be http://192.168.1.1.  If you are unsure of your current router username/password, you can try the default password for your router, here is a useful search for your router make/model http://www.routerpasswords.com/.  Once you are in, you should look in your firmware for DDNS or Dynamic DNS settings.  Most routers include this in your default firmware, but if not and you feel adventurous, you can look into 3rd party router firmwares (I won’t be covering these as they are a bit out of the HTPC realm, but are pretty awesome as well).

 

Dynamic DNS is running, now what can I use it for?

Now that you have DDNS running, you can do a few cool things.

If you are a PLEX user and want to access your library from your iDevice or your Android device you can forward port 32400 to the IP address of your Media Center (in order for this to work, you need to set a static IP address on your media center if it’s not setup this way already http://portforward.com/networking/staticip.htm).  Since we are talking about static IP addresses, let me just mention this is good practice to do this anyway for many other reasons, especially if you are going to use your Media Center as a file server or any other kind of server as well.  Here is a good resource for learning how to port forward http://portforward.com/

An example of the proper config for port forwarding would be like this

Media Center Static IP : 192.168.1.115

Port forward : 32400 to 192.168.1.115 also on port 32400

Protocol : Both TCP & UDP

Now that port forwarding is setup, go to your Plex preferences (in the system tray, not within the application) to setup secure access.  On my Mac to do that, I go to the menu where I access the media manager, and go to preferences.  Then I find secure access on the Security tab.

Now snag the Plex app from your appropriate app store, add a new server in the config pane, point it at your Dynamic DNS address & add the password and voila!

 

Another interesting use for DDNS is setting up your SABnzbd+, Sickbeard, and Couchpotato installs to be accessible when you are away from home.  To do this, all you have to do is get into your router config, like you did in the above, and forward the appropriate port.  Pro tip – don’t use the default external ports that coincide with your web ports. Example below:

Media Center Static IP : 192.168.1.115

Internal Port for SAB : 8080

External Port for SAB : 2564

Now if you normally go to http://192.168.1.115:8080 when you are at home to access your SAB install, when you are away from home you will go to your DDNS address (http://bobfamily.servebeer.com:2564) and enter your info and you can manually add NZB’s or check the status on current NZB’s

The reason why you would want to do this is simple, port 8080 is a default web port, so if someone is port scanning you, that is one port that will definitely get checked and can cause you to be vulnerable to brute forcing your SAB password, which could lead to other things.

 

If you are also interested in setting up Sickbeard and Couchpotato via portforwarding, the default port for Sickbeard is 8081 and default for CouchPotato is 5000.  I would also use different ports for external.

 

Other cool uses for DDNS Media Centers

If you are interested in using your Media Center as an FTP server as well, you can also use dynamic dns to leverage that FTP server so you always know where to connect.

You can use the DDNS address to use MyNZB on your iPhone to manage your SAB when you only have access to your Mobile phone.

Pro Tip – I REALLY like this application as you can also plug in your Search providers into it and download files when away from home and have them ready when you get home.  For example, you’re at dinner with a girl you really like and she wants to watch her favorite movie of all time “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” (hey it could happen!) when she slips away to use the restroom, you can pull out your phone and get that movie downloading by the time she gets back.  This is a direct opening to come back to your place and watch her favorite movie!  You can thank me later.

 

DDNS is something that is so simple, yet makes my life so much easier as I use my Media Center constantly while at home and away.  If you guys have any other cool uses for DDNS that I haven’t listed here or are looking for information about setting up something else to leverage DDNS and your Media Center, shoot me a comment.

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