Network Best Practices? Advice, Suggestions, Fun Naming

And they DID see it, and renamed their network “We Can Hear You Having Sex 2”.

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I also have combined SSIDs, but that in itself has caused problems. I have a NanoLeaf Canvas which gets its wifi details via the iPhone (and I’ve heard of other devices that do this). Well the iPhone 11 Pro almost always prefers 5GHz but the Canvas only does 2.4GHz and it simply doesn’t work.

Without being able to turn off 5GHz, even temporarily, on my router the trick was to turn down the power on 5GHz and then perform the set up as far away from the router as you can get.

As for SSID names, the best I ever heard of was “Pretty Fly for a WiFi”.

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We live in an apartment block with shared bins, with one household always failing to recycle properly (paper in general waste, cardboard boxes put in the paper recycling empty and not flattened). A neighbour renamed their wifi “SORT YOUR RECYCLING”.

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How do you life Unifi? Why did you choose that over Eero or Orbi? Thanks.

Before Unifi, I had a Netgear Nighthawk X6 Router. No matter what I did in the house or added I either has complete loss of wifi, or extremely reduced speeds. When I started researching about a year ago or so roughly, I asked a few of my friends. I am not sure if this changed (I assume it has). But they would consistently mention problems connecting with their Synology. In addition, one of the goals when I first moved into my home was to have a more wired solution to all my devices and to eventually add cameras to my home. I was irritated by the Ring system (still am). Obviously things change over time, I currently have 4 APs in the house and I still need to add 2 more runs in the house. But as I add more IoT devices, I want to be careful of my network. I removed almost all my Amazon devices from the house (replaced with HomePod Minis and I still have the Ecobee but with the microphone muted). After this the next project is figuring out my camera system. (Unifi Camera system, now that they have a doorbell option)…or something HomeKit compatible.

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I’m not impressed with my Synology router RT2600ac. I frequently have to restart my Apple TV 4K due to it not being able to connect to WiFi (12’ away on the floor above), something that didn’t happen with my Apple AirPort Extreme. It also has those goofy antennae. At the time, I needed it for “hair pinning”, but now am thinking about going back to the AirPort Extreme (when sufficiently annoyed).

One reason people may not choose Eero is that it is only available in a handful of countries. In fact last I looked, it was two. One of a handful of brands that advertise heavily on borderless media like podcasts. :man_shrugging:

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There must be something else going on. I have more then 30 installed with clients and they are trouble free.

“FBI surveillance van” is an other fun one :star_struck:

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Chose Orbi too because I have zero faith in Amazon’s long term commitment to Eero, and Orbi was sold in the Apple Store, and I’ve owned many good Netgear products for 20 years.

I replied to this in the other thread. I am VERY impressed with my RT2600ac. No issues, very fast, handles heavy loads like a charm,… and has a ton of features.

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Mine is currently set to ‘SpiderLAN’ because it makes me chuckle.

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Eero Pro’s IMO are excellent- worth every penny.
In the UK they are sold in Apple stores

I starting naming my laptops after types of small chickens. My old 11-inch Macbook Air is bantam. My 2018 13-inch Macbook Pro is barnevelder.

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I had that for quite some time.

I’m on my third generation of Unifi networking equipment, in the second house I’ve set it up in. I like and recommend their products, and I’m looking forward to upgrading to a fourth generation, once Wi-Fi 6e gets finalized and there are mature products with it.

Like others, my advice to the original poster is to not make your network configuration any more complicated than you’re confident in managing. You can create a rock solid Wi-Fi network with Unifi, and with just a couple of settings changes you can create an unholy mess that will have you sleeping on the couch, or a motel. (Or, more likely, the rest of your family will leave you for a hotel where they can actually use the Internet.)

If “guest networks” and “VLANs”, subnets and DNS and DHCP, and so on are unfamiliar terms, you might want to back away from Unifi. As Marco once said on ATP, “Get Unifi if you want to mess around with your network, get Eero if you just want set-and-forget.” (With the caveat that back then Eero was a frequent sponsor of the show.)

So, start simple, with a single, combined network. Make sure it works. For at least a week. Save your configuration. Practice restoring your configuration from backup. (This is how you avoid the couch. Don’t skip it.) Now and only now should you contemplate getting fancy.

The simplest thing to add is a second “guest” network. That’s the kind of thing you’re offered at hotels, cafés, and so on. The idea is, devices on this network have access to the Internet, but nothing on YOUR network. This is great for friends, family, contractors, and so on. It’s also super-simple to set up (as long as you’re not tempted to make it more complicated, with capture portals, vouchers, and other features Unifi includes that are designed for cafés and other small businesses).

Guest networks are not great for smart home (or “IOT”) devices, which often need to talk to each other, or a hub. They need to be on a more feature-complete network. You need to talk to them, and they need to talk to each other. And, especially with cheap devices from overseas, they can be notoriously insecure, or deliberately invasive (TVs that track and report what you watch, etc.).

Setting up a separate network for your IOT devices involves creating the network, a VLAN, and firewall rules at a minimum. (At least in Unifi.) It’s not for the faint of heart. It took me (IIRC) three tries before everything worked. And I have to keep some particularly stupid devices on my primary network, because they can’t handle talking to a controlling device (an app on my phone) across networks. So in some sense you could say I gave up before I finished the job successfully.

You also have to be prepared for your smart devices to balk at your network. Once you have a dedicated IOT network, you’re no longer on the “happy path” for setting up new devices. Each and every one will require you to read their instructions, and then translate that into steps to perform on your network.

Sometimes that’s easy. Much of the time, I simply change wireless networks on my phone to the IOT network, and then follow the standard instructions to connect the device. Many of those generate their own, temporary Wi-Fi network that you connect to, provide credentials for your own Wi-Fi network, and then they reboot and connect to that network. It’s cumbersome, but straightforward.

But sometimes it’s not so simple. I was setting up a couple of Yeelight smart lightbulbs three weekends ago. They can take advantage of a new feature in iOS, where instead of generating its own network that you connect to, an option appears in Settings > Wi-Fi that lets iOS connect directly to the bulb and communicate the details of your network directly. When it works, it’s lovely, and quite a bit simpler than the traditional method. (I’m sure Apple would say “magical”.) But I could not get it to work with the Yeelight bulbs. I eventually found an old phone running an older version of iOS that didn’t have this “smart” feature, and did the traditional dance. That worked.

That’s the thing, though. Different devices, different firmware versions, different app versions, different versions of iOS (or other OS) — they can all change the setup process. There’s some great YouTube videos and other resources for configuring an advanced home network, and with focus and care, you can follow them, even if you’re not quite sure what you’re doing. But once your network is more complicated than just one unified network, you’re going to have to solve problems yourself. It’s not impossible! “If I can do it, you can do it”, as Miles V. used to say. But, go into it with your eyes open.

My Network

To answer a few of OP’s questions:

  • I have two APs at two strategic points in my house.
  • I have three networks: Main, guest, and IOT (named ID107, semi-leetspeak for “idiot”, since most of the devices on it are “smart”, with quotation marks).
  • The main network has no VLAN, the other two use VLANs and separate subnets.
  • For the IOT network, I’ve configured the wireless network to use 2.4 Ghz only. Most IOT devices don’t do 5 Ghz anyway (the chipsets are more expensive), so this avoids confusing them.
  • For the other two networks, I combine the SSIDs for both frequency ranges.
  • Networks are named for my cats. It’s their house, after all.

More Advice

  • Whatever you do, don’t enable the “AI” network “optimization” feature in UniFi. It’ll make changes without asking you, and they won’t be good ones. No one I know recommends using this feature; many people have horror stories. (Couch time.)
  • Similar to @zkarj, I’ve had at least one device that could not deal with a combined network. It needed to connect to a 2.4 Ghz network, and for there to be no other options. It was a PITA to get it set up, and I live in fear that it’ll need to be reset at some point, and I’ll have to try to remember how to get it to work again. It’s the wireless interface for the mini-split air conditioner in my wife’s office, so failure is a “go directly to the couch” situation. (Fortunately, there’s a dumb wireless remote that doesn’t care about Wi-Fi, so I have a Plan B. If I can find it again…)
  • There are folks whose advice I respect who recommend naming your 2.4 and 5 Ghz networks different, just suffixing them with “_24” or “_5g” or whatever. If you can stand seeing the extra networks, it’s good advice. Which I freely admit I didn’t take.
  • If you have security cameras on your network, put the controller/recorder on the same network. With a Unifi network, if you put the cameras on the IOT network and the recorder on the main network, the video data streams need to cross the network boundary, which means it needs to go through your router, even if all of the devices are connected to the same switch. You’ll crush your router with the traffic, and everyone will be unhappy with you. This is most likely to happen if you’re using a Unifi Cloud Key G2+ as your recorder, and one of the USGs as your router. (That’s what I have.) If you have a Unifi Dream Machine Pro (combines router, switch, and camera recorder), it’ll be much less of a problem.

Resources

The two best resources I recommend for leveling up your Unifi skills are these two YouTube channels:

Hope this is useful!

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Better couch gags than The Simpsons. :laughing:

I just replaced my Eero-based home system with a UniFi. I can vouch for Crosstalk Solutions. I’ve got pretty much everything up and running well now as far as I can tell. Planning the next two enhancements (doorbell plus two exterior cameras)

One issue I do need to dig into is the Guest network and guest isolation. My understanding is that the guests should not be able to see each other but I do have successful pings going through between two guests.

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Which cameras are you planning?

I’m thinking of a pair of the G4 Pro cameras on the back corner of my house - one covering the backyard entrance and the other the driveway. The G4 Doorbell will cover the front. I think it’ll be straightfoward to run PoE to the two cameras