My Favorite Network Edge Device for Home and Small Business

Network Edge Devices act as the brains for a computer network. They combine functions like Routing, Firewall, VPN hosting, Network Load Balancing, DNS, DHCP, Intrusion Detection & Prevention, and Data Classification into a single device. Network edge systems offer a single pane of glass to monitor and control your entire network from.

Throughout my IT career, I have encountered countless models of these devices. From Enterprise equipment like Cisco, NetScaler, and Fortinet, to SOHO grade systems like Netgear, Linksys, and ASUS; I’ve worked with them all. Overall, they provide the same basic functionality. From the point of view of a small business or home administrator, their biggest differences lie in how much technical expertise is required to configure them.

The majority of edge devices take a two prong approach to management by providing a graphical “easy mode” interface and an advanced command line for the more experienced. Unfortunately, there are major gaps in the intuitive operation of these systems, especially if the manufacturer was first involved in the enterprise market. They tend to do things like providing a button to set up a VPN that does not configure the firewall rules or authentication systems that are required for a VPN to work.

Out of all the edge devices that I’ve worked with, Ubiquiti’s Unified Security Gateway is my favorite. The unit is the perfect balance between ease of use and robust functionality. Ubiquiti’s Unifi series of products are the very definition of software defined networking. The entire line is managed by a single piece of software. Install the controller on your Windows, Mac, or Linux PC, or run it on a cloud key, go through an automated adoption process and you will immediately understand your network topology like never before.

Setup is simple and guided by the software. Once you have the system up and running you can forget about it. I have an advanced network in my home. My previous network edge struggled to deal with multiple Xbox, PlayStation, and Switch on-line gaming sessions. I had to constantly futz with it to keep things running. Other than to review usage reports, I haven’t needed to touch my USG since they day I installed it.

Speaking of usage reports, they are fantastic. Check the box to enable DPI and the USG will automatically classify all of your internet traffic and present it on an easy to read dashboard. Beyond the dashboard you can easily schedule emailed reports.

Easy to use reports show how your data is being used.
Drill down in each category to see specific details

Sign up for a free cloud account and you will be able to securely mange your network from your mobile with the Unify App or from any computer with a web browser. With the mobile app and cloud account configured you can also have your controller push notifications to you.

With extremely advanced options like the ability to support dual internet connections, host your own VPN, and Intrusion detection it is hard to believe the USG retails for $130.00, lifetime updates and tech support included. I’ve been extremely impressed by the unit and have recommended it to all my friends, family, and colleagues.

About Kevin Trent

IT professional with almost 30 years of experience in Infrastructure, Architecting, Administration, Development, and Communications.

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