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Self-hosting vs managed-hosting UniFi Controller

Published onJanuary 11, 2024

There are a few possibilities you can go after when managing your UniFi network. It all depends on your preferences to decide what suits you best.

In this blog, we'll be looking at a range of options: self-hosting the UniFi Controller, setting up a cloud controller, or opting for managed cloud hosting services like UniHosted.

Each approach offers advantages and challenges. Let's dive in!

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Table of Contents

Self-Hosting

Self-hosting the UniFi Controller involves running it on your own hardware. This could be on a dedicated server, a computer, or a small form factor device like a Raspberry Pi.

The self-hosted UniFi Controller is a common choice for home environments or smaller setups, where the controller software is installed on a local computer. This setup works well for some users but has its limitations. The controller is only accessible when the computer is on, and opening the necessary ports without compromising security can be challenging. Additionally, the burden of applying updates, maintenance, and backups falls on the user, which can be overwhelming (especially if you are not technical).

Pros of Self-Hosting

  1. Full Control: Complete control over the hardware and software environment.
  2. Customization Potential: Tailor the setup to meet your specific network requirements.
  3. Cost-Effective: Primarily involves a one-time hardware investment.

Cons of Self-Hosting

  1. Maintenance Responsibility: You handle all updates, backups, and troubleshooting.
  2. Physical Limitations: Performance is tied to the capabilities of your hardware.
  3. Complexity: Requires technical knowledge for setup and ongoing management.
  4. Scalability Challenges: Expanding resources might require additional hardware investments.

DIY Cloud Controller

A do-it-yourself cloud controller means setting up and managing your UniFi Controller on a cloud platform, like AWS, Azure, or a Linux/Ubuntu server. This approach blends control with the benefits of cloud computing.

It's a setup commonly used by IT-service businesses or MSPs that manage multiple networks. It provides the benefit of scalabiliy, but you to handle maintenance, updates and security yourself.

You could say it's a hybrid between the self-hosting and managed cloud controller. We also wrote a UniFi network comparison for the UniFi Cloud Key here

Pros of DIY Cloud Hosting

  1. Scalability: Easily scale your server resources to match your network's growth.
  2. Remote Access: Manage your network from anywhere with an internet connection.
  3. No Physical Hardware Concerns: Avoids the limitations and maintenance of physical hardware.

Cons of DIY Cloud Hosting

  1. Technical Expertise Needed: Requires knowledge of cloud platforms and server management.
  2. Ongoing Costs and Maintenance: You're responsible for all cloud-related costs, updates, and security.
  3. Complex Setup: Setting up a cloud server can be more complex than local alternatives.

Managed Cloud Hosting: The Hassle-Free Solution

Cloud-hosted services, like UniHosted, provide instant deployment of new controllers, with no need for tedious installation and setup. Such services handle server updates, create backups, and ensure the system runs securely, offering a hassle-free option for users.

This approach is particularly beneficial for IT service providers or businesses with extensive network infrastructure across various locations.

Pros of Managed Cloud Hosting

  1. Maintenance and Support: The service provider handles setup, maintenance, updates, and support.
  2. High Reliability: Typically hosted on robust, enterprise-grade cloud infrastructure.
  3. Simplicity and Convenience: Removes the complexity of managing the underlying server.
  4. Advanced capabilities: Daily backups, 24/7 monitoring and import/export features are provided

Cons of Managed Cloud Hosting:

  1. Recurring Costs: Involves ongoing subscription fees. However, for home-users, UniHosted is free.
  2. Less Direct Control: You may have less control over specific server configurations. At UniHosted, we schedule upgrades in advance. You can just let us know your favorable configurations. However, it's good to mention that other managed service providers don't offer this.
  3. Dependence on Provider: Quality of service is dependent on the provider’s reliability and expertise.

Final Thoughts

The best option depends on your situation. Here is a short overview of the different solutions:

  • Self-Hosting is ideal for those with the technical know-how who want complete control over their UniFi Controller environment and are willing to manage the associated hardware and software.

  • DIY Cloud Hosting suits those comfortable with cloud technologies and who prefer the scalability and accessibility of a cloud platform, while still maintaining management responsibilities.

  • Managed Cloud Hosting like UniHosted is best for those seeking a worry-free solution, where all technical aspects are handled by professionals, allowing you to focus on using the UniFi Controller rather than maintaining it.

Your choice will depend on your technical expertise, resource availability, and how much control and responsibility you want over your UniFi Controller environment.

If the managed cloud hosting resonates with you, feel free to give us at try! We offer a hassle-free experience, ensuring that your network is optimally managed without any maintenence from your side.

Additionally, I'm happy to walk you through personally. You can schedule a call with me here.

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