We’re on a bit of an IP kick this month in the R&D section. In the Windows Tip we showed you how to locate your local IP, and in the DOSBox article we showed you how to play old games online, as long as you know your IP. We’ve got one more IP-related trick up our sleeves: How to set up a Ventrilo chat server for your gaming friends, using a static IP from DynDNS.com.
Having a static IP is tremendously useful. In addition to allowing you to host a Ventrilo server, it also lets you play older games online, and run services like fileservers, media streamers, or ebook repositories on your desktop PC or home server, and then access them from anywhere. Unfortunately, most ISPs won’t give you a static IP for free. That’s OK though, because it’s easy and free to get a static hostname from DynDNS.com, which can be used in most situations where you would need a WAN IP.
1. Create a Static Hostname at DynDNS.com
To get started, just head to DynDNS.com, click Sign Up Now, and then select DynDNS Free. Next, you’ll be asked to specify a hostname, choosing from one of 80-some domains (image A).
Next, you’ll have to specify the current external IP for the computer you want to use as a host. Assuming that’s the computer you’re using to sign up for DynDNS, you can just click the link below the IP Address field that says “Your current location’s IP address is [IP address].” At the bottom of the form, select the services you’ll want to host using your static hostname (for Ventrilo, select Chat Server).
When you finish, click Add to Cart. You’ll be asked to create an account (for free), so fill out the form to continue. All that’s left to do is check your email inbox, click the activation link, and then press the Activate Services button. DynDNS will now track your computer’s dynamic IP, and redirect the hostname you’ve selected to it.
2. Run the Ventrilo Server
Now, download and install the Ventrilo server software (not the Ventrilo client) from Ventrilo.com. To change the settings for your server, edit ventrilo_srv.ini (image B). You can leave most settings as they are, but you should change the server name, password (if you want one), and the admin password fields. Run ventrilo_srv.exe to launch the server (image C). If you’re behind a router, you’ll very likely need to forward the Ventrilo port. As usual, visit Portforward.com for step-by-step instructions about how to do this.
Now, you and up to seven of your friends can run the Ventrilo client software, and connect to the hostname you got from DynDNS.