DNS2Go: A Feature-Rich DNS Management Tool

While putting together our DNS tutorial, we came across many DNS management products. One that particularly stood out was DNS2GO from Deerfield. We spent some time evaluating DNS2Go and have prepared the product review that follows based on our experiences. For information about another DNS product, check out our discussion of UltraDNS on ServerWatch.

While putting together our DNS tutorial, we came across many DNS management products.

DNS service has been on the top priority list for many enterprises for a long time. In the recent year, many companies have come into the market of providing free dynamic DNS service to users. Deerfield, best known for servers such as FTP Serv-U, is one of the many market entrants with its DNS service, DNS2Go.

With its second version of client software DNS2Go v2.0 now in Beta, Deerfield seems to have pinned down all the features of a DNS client for which server administrators, have been looking. The first main feature that gets our attention, as well as the attention of other server techs, is DNS2Go's memory footprint. While minimized into the system tray and as a NT system service, DNS2Go's footprint ranges from 512 KB to 2245 KB. While being used, the active memory footprint ranges from 1536 KB to 4400 KB, or higher. For a server with 256 MB of RAM, this isn't a much of a problem, but compared to some of the Visual-Basic-coded clients of other DNS services (which are usually 1MB), it's nothing to write home about.

The features of the actual software are outstanding. Most configurations for DNS services are Web-based. A client is downloaded to update your IP only when it changes. With DNS2Go, the only Web setup an enterprise will ever need is the domain setup. Users will also have to get a special client software key, which is free.

Installation is the same as it is for most Windows-based software. DNS2Go simply asks where to put the software and goes to work. The configuration takes place on the client's initial start up. You are first prompted to enter the domain name you registered, then the key you were given during registration to unlock the client software. If this is not done, the software will not work correctly.

A great feature for those with services that have time-out systems, specifically dial-up services, is DNS2Go's "heartbeat" feature. This feature will send out a "random" UDP packet to keep the connection alive. Thus, if using dial-up or some sort of weird broadband connection, you can stay online and continue running your server. This feature can be set to "beat" automatically, every one minute, every five minutes, and in five-minute intervals up to 120 minutes. As well as keeping you online, DNS2Go can be set to automatically dial your ISP through standard Windows dial-up networking.

Another nice feature of DNS2Go 2.0 is the "service options" feature. You can set if your domain should point to the IP address of the client software, or another specified IP address as well as a specific HTTP Web page on a certain server port -- while in the online mode. While offline, you can specify if you want users sent to a Web page that states you're offline, a certain Web page, or a specific IP. Simply setting that specific IP to, prevents all access to the domain.

There are also the usual options to start DNS2Go as an NT/2000 service and other typical program options. DNS2Go can be set to automatically synchronize your system time when a certain atomic time server's time. The product offers many preconfigured time severs by default. Of course, a decent package of server software wouldn't be quite so decent without solid trouble-shooting tools. DNS2Go enables sys admins to view the log files and offers special diagnostic tools (e.g., network diagnostic tools).

Finally, DNS2Go features something we have never seen in other dynamic DNS management tools. It offers the capability to host your own root domain (something.com, .net, or .org) for only $39.95 per year. Because of this, along with other features, DNS2Go should satisfy even the most advanced user's demands.

The only major complaint we have with DNS2Go is its lack of "techie" root domains. Most of its domains feature something to do with the company, which will give away the service used, and could possibly be hacked. It's also saddening that the domains offered are limited to the more common .com, .net, and .org domain roots, when high value could be gained with nifty domain, such as servers.nu or servers.cx (CX is the Christmas Island Domain extension, it will be available shortly).

Pros: Highly configurable; small, active memory footprint; NT/2000 service; FREE!
Cons: Company-based domains; configuration could boggle beginners, but is great for techies; you may prefer a Web-based dynamic DNS.

This article was originally published on Jan 19, 2001
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