UniFi Controller Explained

Published onAugust 23, 2023

The UniFi Controller is the central nervous system for managing and configuring Ubiquiti UniFi devices, such as switches, firewalls, Voice over IP phones, and access points. In this article, we focus on explaining what a UniFi controller is and the different setups used, with its pros and cons.

Table of Contents

The UniFi Controller

Ubiquiti's free software, the UniFi Controller, offers a UniFied platform to users for centrally managing their UniFi devices. Users can monitor, update, and configure their UniFi devices when installing the software on a computer. It is the centralized nerve center for controlling network settings, tracking device performance, and implementing changes.

Exploring UniFi Controller Options

Self-hosted UniFi controller

This option is more common in homes or small setups. Here, internet connectivity navigates through a firewall, a switch, and finally to the access points and other UniFi devices.

Users generally install UniFi locally on their computer, which works fine for some use cases. The problem is that the Controller will only be online when the computer is, and how do you make sure that all the advised ports are open without compromising your computer?

See required Ports Reference. This can be overwhelming. The installation process is quite daunting, and it doesn't stop there. You must apply updates, maintenance, and backups yourself.

Cloud-Hosted UniFi controller

For those who cater to multiple locations or clients, a cloud-hosted UniFi Controller, such as UniHosted, is convenient.

UniHosted homepage

UniHosted homepage

In a few seconds, you can spin up a new controller that will be deployed instantly. No tedious installation and setup anymore. A cloud-hosted UniFi controller service takes care of testing and applying server updates, creates backups, and ensures it's running securely. It’s also free to use for home lab nerds like me.

Final Thoughts

A sound understanding of the UniFi Controller ecosystem is crucial to run your UniFi devices efficiently. There are two options you can choose from, either self-host or cloud-host. Both have their pros and cons. It’s up to you to decide what's best.

UniHosted is a cloud-hosted solution that lets you control your UniFi networks without the hassle. It’s free to use, takes care of applying updates and maintenance, and ensures your network runs securely.

You are welcome to give it a try!

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