Home Assistant is an amazing piece of software that we all know and love, but if you are just getting started then it can be a bit overwhelming trying to learn everything and it’s easy to make mistakes that will come back to haunt you later down the road, so today I wanted to cover 5 mistakes that I see people making all the time, and what you need to do to fix them, so by the end you should be in a much better place to keep your Home Assistant running perfectly!
Sizing your Hardware
So mistake number one I see is admittedly a difficult one when you are first starting out, and that is not sizing your hardware appropriately. A lot of people I see fall into the trap of installing Home Assistant on something like a Raspberry Pi so that they can test it out with maybe a couple of devices and see if its going to work for them and do the things they need – fast forward 2 years later and they’ve went from a handful of devices to hundreds of devices with tons of automations, scripts, multiple add-ons, video recording and just lots of super intensive tasks, and they wonder why things are slow, sluggish or just not working properly.
Now I’m not saying that a Raspberry Pi isn’t a great device for running Home Assistant, far from it, but it does have its limits in terms of performance and depending on what your doing, it can be pushed to those limits and so it’s important to make sure that the hardware you are using is up-to what you are asking from it to keep things running smoothly, if you want some of my recommendations for different hardware and their use cases then you can check out this video here.
Remove Old Integrations
The second of our common Home Assistant mistakes is one I’m sure we are all guilty of, I know I definitely am, and that is not removing old integrations from your install. This can often cause issues particularly with startup times because Home Assistant may try to connect or communicate with that device when it is starting up, and it may try to keep doing that over and over again for few minutes until the timeout occurs. That can really add a lot of unnecessary time to your startup times, which nobody wants! The easiest way to confirm this is by checking both the Home Assistant logs and also the start up times, which should easily show you any old integrations, and you can also look under the integrations menu where often the integration will report if its not working correctly.
Removing these old integrations can really help to improve the speed of your system, so it’s worth making sure you keep on top of that!
Number 3 is something that everyone should be doing frequently without question, and that is taking regular backups!
Even now its pretty shocking how many people either don’t take backups frequently enough, or simply don’t take them at all, and its probably because we think that nothing bad will ever happen to us right, but trust me, it does!
Backups are super useful for being able to restore to a point in time when things were working before something went horribly wrong, or an update made one of your devices stop working or something like that, plus its so easy to automate all your backups so that you never need to worry about it, but its there when you need it, I’ve actually done an entire video on how to automate your backups to Google Drive, but here is also other methods that use Samba as well as some other cloud services, so make sure to get backups setup, its really easy, doesn’t take long and it will massively save your bacon in a pinch!
Mistake number 4 is one that I am noticing a lot particularly in the last couple of months, and that is not reading the release notes, I know I know, crazy idea right!
As we all know, Home Assistant is an open source project that is constantly being developed with new features being added and bugs being fixed, and that often means that sometimes the way things were implemented or work need to change in order to make it better, add more features or even for security reasons and that can cause issues when updating to new version.
BUT, Home Assistant does a very very good job of listing all the breaking changes well in advance of implementing them, and do you know where you can find them!? In the release notes.
They tend to warn you of any upcoming breaking changes quite a few releases before they are actually implemented, but the problem is people aren’t reading these breaking changes – for example there was recently a change for people in the 2021.7 release of Home Assistant who were running reverse proxies, that basically required a couple of lines to be added to the config.
However, the amount of people I saw complaining that the latest update broke their Home Assistant was insane, simply because they hadn’t read the release notes, and it was even warned that this change would be upcoming in the previous versions release notes too, so a lot of time and effort could have been saved if they just took the 5 minutes to check over the breaking changes before hitting that update button.
Remember this is something that for a lot of us are running our entire homes, so safe yourself lots of headache by reading those release notes!
And finally we come to our fifth and final mistake and that is running custom components.
Now hear me out before you get your pitchforks out, its not so much the running of custom components I have a problem with – I run many custom components myself and many of them are amazing – but rather its people who don’t understand the difference between the official integrations and community made integrations and so they install a community made integration to get something working which is fine and all works great, but then an update happens either through core or the integration or something just generally stops working, and then people complain about Home Assistant updates breaking their stuff when really its not the Home Assistant developers they need to speak to, its the maintainer of the custom integration.
Now again, I’m not saying you shouldn’t run community integrations, I’m just saying you should be aware of the difference between an official integration and community integration so that you know where to go to make bug reports or ask for help, so that you can get things back on track.
And there we go that is 5 mistakes that I see people make all the time when I comes to Home Assistant, and I’m definitely guilty of making some of those myself too as I’m sure lots of us are, and there is lots more we could have covered here, I don’t know if you guys are interested in a part 2 or something then let me know in the comments down below!