Networking at home should be easy, straight forward and painless. I have been using the modem provided by my Internet provider and an Airport Extreme as the router at home. Everything has worked fine and there was barely anything to setup to make it work. For a couple of years I have been using it with no issues, then the WiFi started to drop occasionally. When I called the internet provider to complaint about the internet, they had told me that the issue may be the router but I was hesitant to blame my precious router. I needed to do something though and one day I decided that I needed to invest in a good router that was not from Apple but that came from a trusted company. It took me a while until I saw Troy Hunt talking very highly in regards of the Ubiquiti’s devices. Yes, I said devices because now I was not going to buy just a single router. I was going to buy a whole set of networking devices to make my Local Area Network (LAN) much more robust and secure.
Instead of buying one router, I ended up buying a Security Gateway (Firewall), a Switch, a CloudKey (Controller) and an Access Point. Troy Hunt is to blame for all this since he was so convincing that the products were something special. Ubiquiti’s devices are amazing and I would agree with Troy on this one. Talking about Troy, please check his Introduction to Unifi videos on Youtube for free. Ubiquiti Unifi is a set of devices that consolidate the network with enterprise capabilities if necessary. Unifi can be setup for a one room apartment as well as for a business, this is how powerful the product can be. It also could take you around 15 to 20 minutes to set it up at home but it could also take hours and hours if you want to customize it your way.
The beauty of the product is that if you only spend 15 to 20 minutes and setup the basic, the network will be in a better shape than anything you had before. As mention above, check Troy Hunt’s video since he gives a demo on installing the devices with basic settings. If you consider yourself tech savvy then you could do wonderful stuff with your new setup even if it is not for a business.
My setup is base on the Internet provider’s Modem (Internet), Security Gateway (Firewall), Switch, CloudKey (Controller) and an Access Point. My house is not that big so this basic setup is just perfect for me. My internet comes from the Modem from where I have connected my Security Geteway and the Security Gateway then its connected to the Switch. The CloudKey and the Access Point are connected then to the Switch as well. Aside from having the AP and the CloudKey connected to the Switch, I also have my Server and an Apple TV.
Security Gateway – Firewall
The Security Gateway is a type of firewall. Since now a days there is a bigger sense of security and privacy, the Security Gateway will help on this department. The firewall is not a required component to setup your LAN at home but it is recommended. This particular device is the one that the tech savvy folks will spend much of the time trying to harden their network. The Unifi Security Gateway connects to the modem and then to the Switch which is to be expected. We want the internet to come into the firewall first to then apply all the rules we may have setup for security reasons. The traffic will then go to the switch where all the clients are connected, either via ethernet or the AP.
Switch 8 PoE – 60W
In this case, the Ubiquiti Switch 8 PoE – 60W handles all my wired devices. This is where my AP is connected in order to get internet access to provide to the wireless clients. The switch is doing the job of a router but only partially since it only service the wired clients. In combination, the AP and the Switch are doing the router’s job in its totality . I understand that some people my be thinking, why would I want to have more devices to do the same job. The advances of this is management and scalability. Management because I would be able to manage my wired clients in a more productive way without touching the AP. The Switch 8 PoE also will help with those devices that have the capabilities to be Power over Ethernet (PoE), this will help by having less cables to work with. Scalability because in the event that you move from a one bedroom apartment to a two story house, the only thing you may need is to buy another AP or a couple of them but the core will stay intact. The CloudKey is also connected to the switch and it is PoE as well.
AP AC Lite, Router?
In reality, I did not get a Router but an Access Point (AP) and a bunch of other devices. A Router is a Network device that handles the transferring of data either wirelessly or via the wire. On the other hand, an AP only provide Wireless capabilities to those devices that need it. Routers can function as an AP but an AP cannot function as a Router. In my old setup with the Airport Extreme, I had a Router which was in charged of everything. The Airport Extreme was in charge of all the wired and wireless devices, it acted as an AP as well. Now with the Ubiquiti AP AC Lite, I have an AP that its only job is to serve all the wireless clients. The AP AC Lite is connected directly to the switch.
This is basically the management portal for all your Ubiquiti’s devices. Allow you to configure and manage all the devices, in my case, the Security Gateway, Switch and the AP. It allow local as well as remote access for management. Access it locally via local IP and remotely via the Ubiquiti’s site or the Ubiquiti’s mobile app. Management with Ubiquiti is so much fun and it is easy, the statistics section is just awesome. It provides plenty of details of what is going on in your network, from which site are the most visit to how much data is been use in any particular site or app. It even allows you to see the devices connected in your whole network and block them if necessary. This are just a few of the dozen of features Ubiquiti has to offer. As previously mention, the CloudKey is connected directly to the Switch.
I personally like simplicity but I also like to have power over my devices and see what is actually going on. I understand that my new network setup is not as simple as my previous one but I am in love with it. The capabilities I have now are much more powerful than a simple router will ever have. The control I now have over my network is just amazing, I was really missing out. I think a lot of people are missing out of this amazing group of devices. I would try to follow up with other posts while I find new interesting features. I will say this, the devices are not cheap but are affordable.