I'm Done With Unifi

For a few years now, I’ve been invested quite a bit into Ubiquiti’s Unifi ecosystem. I started using Ubiquiti’s Edgerouter stuff and migrated to Unifi because there were a handful of different things I wanted to use and the management was attractive. So I migrated from an Edgerouter to a Unifi Security Gateway Pro 4. I also got a Cloudkey Gen 2 Plus for the management, and plugged in some Unifi G3 cameras so I could monitor the dogs. Prior to the cameras, I was using some crappy cheap cameras so it was definitely an upgrade. Finally, got an access point.

Having one place to manage everything was pretty big. I’m not a huge fan of complexity and I don’t want to be doing a lot of tinkering, so this is what, ultimately, drew me to Unifi. Where I started using this, I had a 100mbit fiber internet connection and so I wasn’t too bothered by how things were running.

Later, I moved. I moved closer to my job, but the place I moved to didn’t have good internet. This is where things started to fall apart.

There were a few occasions where something was hurting my already slow internet connection and I needed to figure out what it was. Unifi failed at helping with this. I simply could not figure out which client on my network was responsible for consuming my internet connection and making my work from home life harder. The first couple of times the issue self-resolved and I moved on. The last time, before I ended up taking out the USG and replacing it with an OPNSense box, the issue was persisting for days at a time.

My iPad was trying to back up 200 GB to icloud for unknown reasons. It’s apparently something iPads will just decide to do sometimes. It couldn’t complete the backup because my upload speed was way too slow. OPNSense helped me track this down. Unifi could not provide this insight.

This was the start of the decline of my use of Unifi. I left the USG out and continued using OPNSense on a dedicated router box. I didn’t get a high end box because my internet was slow, and the box I got seemed like it would cover me for years to come (foreshadowing).

Later, I moved into a house. I wanted to upgrade to Wifi6. As I was looking at my options, Ubiquiti hadn’t released Wifi6 access points yet. I found that Netgear and TP-Link had released similar inexpensive options with management similar to Unifi. TP-Link offered their Omada controller as a docker container so I checked it out. It’d be an understatement to say that it was inspired by Unifi Controller.

I decided to go with TP-Link because they had a Wifi6 access point available and it was cheaper than similar style Wifi5 access points from Ubiquiti. This starts my migration to Omada.

Also in the new house, I looked at cameras for the outside. I had experience with Eufy Security in the past so I went with Eufy’s outdoor 2K cameras. They have local storage so recording isn’t affected by wifi jammers. I can get centralized recording with Frigate to centralize the recording, using the local storage as more of a redundancy.

The Eufy cameras were far cheaper than the Unifi cameras. What surprised me the most was, on top of price, their picture quality is far superior, the night vision is far clearer, and they’re still super easy to manage. I decided to replace my indoor Unifi cameras with indoor Eufy cameras. I saved a substantial amount of money and still got an image quality upgrade, and night vision is far far clearer. With the Unifi cameras, it was VERY difficult to make out my dogs moving around, especially Benson. With the Eufy cameras, it’s extremely clear with almost no motion blurring, something that was really bad on the Unifi cameras.

It’s worth noting that the thing that finally prompted me to make the purchase of the replacement cameras was an update to Protect that broke Frigate. Ubiquiti apparently made a change to the way audio is handled that causes Frigate’s ffmpeg to crash. With the frustrations of quality, some reliability issues, having to use separate apps for my cameras between Eufy and Protect, and finally, Protect breaking Frigate’s functionality, it was time to make the switch.

With all of the Unifi cameras replaced, I uninstalled Protect from the CK2. All that runs on it now is Network/Controller. I can’t leave the 24 port Unifi switch in dumb mode because I have 2 ports in LACP mode for the NAS. As of this blog post, I’m down to just the CK2 and the 24 port switch. Once the switch is replaced, I will be completelyd one with Unifi.

Unifi, ultimately, failed me. Not only is it expensive, but insights are not good enough for managing your network. Yeah, you go to one place to configure everything, you can configure security, and applying configurations to new devices is just about as easy as adopting them and away it goes, but this is now available from other companies, like TP-Link’s Omada. The camera quality was not good, especially for the price. Buying Unifi had that convenience tax where you paid for the ecosystem along with the hardware, but everyone is catching up.

Omada replaces Unifi Network/Controller. Eufy+Frigate replaces Protect. My router is now an open source box running OPNSense. I’m going to be buying an Omada switch soon, one that gives me all the features I need, for cheaper than what’s offered by Ubiquiti Unifi. I’ll be able to get the full network speed from my NAS, finally, and it’ll provide POE for my access point without a separate POE injector.

To be honest, if Unifi was cheaper, I’d have absolutely no problem recommending it. Competitors are catching up with lower (sometimes far lower) price points, with equivalent or better products. The Dream Machine systems might be worth it to bring all the control, routing, firewall, recording, etc. all together, if you want to keep things simple. It has enough ports to replace small switches, and there’s a version that offers POE. Get the best Dream Machine, and you can plug in a couple of access points, a few other devices, and your Unifi cameras would all operate wirelessly. Pretty easy. But you’re talking about still spending a few thousand dollars to get all of this working together, and if you end up with a rogue client on your network, good luck finding it.

I’m actually upgrading my OPNSense box, and OPNSense should make that super easy. I have a gigabit internet connection, now, and the cheaper box I got can’t always give me that speed. The new one comes with 2.5Gb ports and all indications are that it can support port speed without issue.