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Anyone here use UniFi APs?

wifi

#1

Hi guys

So I’ve recently been reviewing at where I work our various customer sites that use Ubiquiti UniFi APs - we’ve gone through a few Wireless solutions over the years and UniFi has tended to stick around longer than most. Apart from making me homicidal to our engineers (No real documentation, No standard build/layout, etc) it has given me a bit more insight on the product and I became curious what other people’s experiences are with them - work and/or pleasure? :slight_smile:

It also highlighted that the Cloud keys are awful and break often - I have never done so much work fixing/unbricking MongoDB as I have this week… :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye::stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye::stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

All answers welcome as usual. Cheers


#2

If you’re dealing with medium to large deployments, I’d recommend hosting the UniFi Controller software yourself. There is a new model of cloud key that just came out that might be better, but in general, it’s pretty flimsy hardware. That said, I have one I use at home and it’s never had a issue.

UniFi is great for situations without complex network topologies where you want to minimize admin overhead. Development is very active as well so you see new features pretty often. A couple years ago it was much less useable imo.


#3

The second generation cloudkey has a little battery built-in, so it shuts down gracefully when power goes out. But yeah, I run the controller in a LXC.


#4

I host the management software myself and after a year I haven’t had a single problem. Have been very happy with the APs.


#5

Yeah, I saw the Gen 2 CKs were a thing. Don’t seem to be available yet in the UK and I doubt it will be viable for us to replace our existing cloud keys at customer sites for them so moving them to our own Hosted Controller is where I’m leaning to at the moment.

The feature set for the price is definitely one of main selling points! :slight_smile:


#6

That is interesting about the battery. Sadly they aren’t available in the UK currently it seems but its interesting they ‘fixed’ that aspect of the CK in hardware rather than software.


#7

I’ve never had the software fail on me. I wonder if the hardware is the underlying cause.

Unifi Controller usually spits out backups pretty frequently as well, so you shouldn’t ever get in too much trouble with it…


#8

Sure, you can always restore a backup, but that’s a pain in the butt. The first gen cloudkey reportedly will corrupt its DB something like one time out of 10 power interruptions. That’s a lot.

It’s never been entirely clear to me why they don’t just rollback uncommitted transactions in a journal and auto-repair after an unexpected shutdown. I don’t have a lot of experience with mongodb, but these are very standard features in the database world. It would be pretty impressive if mongo sucked even worse than MySQL in that regard.

The version of mongo they use is positively ancient, which is why you can’t run the controller on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS. So probably something to do with that.


#9

Ah, that is why I haven’t experienced this problem.

@SnowHeart, if you have the keys on site with the client, and you’re having issues with power interruptions, you could set up some VPN tunnels to your office, cloud, colo or whatever and handle all of the Unifi Controller stuff there where it’s safe (ideally on some platform where you have snapshots and redundancy).

Tunnels are easily configured in Unifi.


#10

@Ruffalo Yeah they are pretty unreliable so I can certainly believe that figure. Kind of annoying since they shouldn’t be that bad.

Mongo as far as i know supports journaling and rollback so why Ubiquiti don’t use it is beyond me though I am no dB expert by any stretch. More of a dabler :joy:

@oO.o I wouldn’t say I could put them all down to power disruption as I had one go in last week that corrupted almost immediately and the uptime was still back to when it went in so was a bit odd.

I am thinking of opening the ports externally to save loads of VPN tunnels to our colo and then just locking on the firewall to site IPs and blocking anything else. I don’t think it needs much more than that since I’m only opening the ports needed for the controller.


#11

I do but its a small installation at my parents house… I use alot of ubqt products at my parents house… my server is also in their basement. I do use the cloud keys. It has not broken for me but if any engineer was doing this for a bigger installation if they were any kind of good they would use the professional grade products like the Unifi controller software being self hosted or at least using their bigger scale products if you do not want to self host

House is simple… 3 Access points… One outsde of garage… one out doors corner of the backyard and house… and on on the ceiling in the center of the house… so It works great!.. cameras too everywhere (no blind spots) … a switch for all the systems that are wired and the security gateway ( I use this instead of pfSense to make it easy for my parents to edit SHOULD they have to) plus they like the phone app to monitor…

Do you need help selecting AP’s? every one of them is suited to a particular disposition in terms of its strengths… some are longer range less throughput and some are high density shorter range maximum throughput…

This also comes from how WiFI works when bonding channels if you really think about it… the range will be shorter for the higher QAM rate due to needing a better SNR… i.e 3x3 MIMO when bonding 80 or 160 Mhz wide will tend to prefer 256 QAM or rates as high as 1024 QAM … but say the LR is only 2x2 so its 40 Mhz wide generally and youll find it will never go past 256 QAM but can operate at 64 QAM… this benefits the range because you can go farther from the access point as the SNR can be lower … I could go further into how the actualy optimizations work including beam forming but I will have to make a separate post as its unrelated… Hell I think UBQT has 10 GBE based accesspoints that now run 4x4 MIMO and have 3-4 different radios… one is a spectral to monitor the air space… they have some cool stuff


#12

A lot of more enterprisey people run the Unifi controller in AWS or a digitalocean droplet. The controller itself is very light, you can handle hundreds of devices off a $5/month droplet.


#13

Why not mix business with pleasure? :wink:

I’m using them at my apartment, my parents house and a couple client sites where they wanted WiFi installed. 100% a pleasure to use when, like @oO.o said, it’s a simple network topology.

In fact, I’ve gone whole-hog into the Unifi ecosystem. I’ve got their switches, their Gateways, their APs and even a polo shirt.

I’ve had nothing but good experiences with them, after the initial setup. If you’re setting up the entire network, getting the gateway on the right subnet can be a bit frustrating.


#14

Yeah, I was using a cheapo tplink managed switch and setting my wired sonos soundbar to the IoT VLAN was a total pain in the ass. It never seemed to work properly. I got a Unifi switch and boom, it just worked. Switch cost literally three times as much, true, but I’m all-in on Unifi.


#15

Yeah, I’ve found that the tplink switches are really not good.


#16

Netgears are pretty good though


#17

Yeah, depends which model, but they definitely have a few that are quality.


#18

Now that we’re talking about it, I did have an issue when I tried to put the cloud key on a different vlan… It just disappeared and never came back up. My solve was just to use the default vlan1 for network management, but seems like it should be possible…


#19

Im definitely talking about those few…

… NG is definitely far less hit or miss


#20

I’ve had the hardest time with VLANs on my network. I’ll have to make a thread about it later, but I’m not the guy to talk to about VLANs. Or networking in general. Whenever I need juniper gear changed around at a datacenter, I find myself talking to our Windows admin. I suppose that’s another reason unifi is good. Makes vlans easy for a clown like me.

That’s true.