This article guides the user on how to initially set up a new UniFi network including a UniFi Access Point (UAP), UniFi Switch (USW), UniFi Security Gateway (USG) and UniFi Cloud Key (UCK). It will cover the initial hardware connection to the moment a working wireless network is created. We now offer an all-in-one solution device which includes capabilities from access point, security gateway, switch and Cloud Key capabilities: UniFi Dream Machine. Check it out in the feature matrix below.
The UniFi User Guide and device Quick Start Guides will be referenced throughout the article. These documents can be downloaded from Ubiquiti Downloads. Find the correct docs by selecting the product line from the top bar and then the specific product model from the left hand menu. The docs will be under the Documentation header. The User Guide is particularly useful to install and get familiar with the UniFi Network Controller and its different sections and features.
Table of Contents
- Introduction and Feature Matrix
- Connecting the Hardware
- Installing the UniFi Network Controller Software
- Next Steps
- Related Articles
It is not mandatory to have the full UniFi topology in order to use the UniFi Network Controller. However, keep in mind that when you use third-party devices, you will not be able to manage them with the UniFi Network Controller. Most importantly, you will not be able to use features that are available to configure in the UniFi Network Controller. See the Feature Matrix below to see what features are provided by each type of UniFi device.
The Feature Matrix below does not contain all articles for the features discussed, please take a look at the UniFi help center category to browse all articles.
UniFi Feature Matrix
- Traffic & Client Statistics
- Client Rate Limiting
- MAC Filtering
- RADIUS MAC Authentication
- Captive Portal (the UniFi Network Controller must be running)
- Guest Access Control
- RADIUS Assigned VLAN (802.1X)
- airTime (only UAP-SHD / UAP-XG / UWB-XG)
- SNMP v1/2c/3
- 802.3ad LAG (supported only by UAPs with two ethernet ports, see device Quick Start Guide for hardware specs)
- 802.1x Fallback VLAN (Guest VLAN) - Only UAP-IW-HD
- Cloud Key Gen1 and Gen2 (UC-CK and UCK-G2): Host the UniFi Network Controller, eliminating the need of a dedicated server or computer for this.
- Cloud Key Gen2 Plus (UCK-G2-PLUS): Hosts both the UniFi Network Controller and UniFi Protect Controller, eliminating the need of a dedicated server, NVR, or computer.
For this article you will need the following items in addition to the elements included in the UniFi product boxes:
- Four ethernet cables.
- A computer with an ethernet port.
- Your existing ISP router or broadband modem with one available LAN port. If you are not using a switch, you will need an existing router with three available LAN ports.
Connect the Hardware
1. Read the Quick Start Guides (QSG) included in the box with your devices, or found in the Downloads page to get familiar with the ports, powering options and setup of each one. Depending on the device you are setting up, your hardware connection will be a little different, follow the instructions on the Quick Start Guide.
2. Power the USG and the USW with the included power adapters.
3. Plug an ethernet cable from your broadband modem or existing ISP router to the WAN port of the USG.
4. Plug an ethernet cable from the LAN port on the USG to Port 1 on the USW.
5. Use another ethernet cable to plug in the UAP into one of the USW's available power over ethernet (PoE) ports. Check the USW's QSG to determine which ports offer PoE.
6. Plug in the UC-CK into one of the USW's available power over ethernet (PoE) port using the short ethernet cable provided in the box.
7. Plug an ethernet cable from your computer to an available port on the USW.
The following diagram exemplifies how it should all connect together before you begin the UniFi Network Controller software installation. If you do not have a USG or USW, you would connect the UAP, Cloud Key and Computer to your existing router's LAN ports (your router would have to have at least three LAN ports available). If you are only connecting one or a few UAPs, the mobile Standalone mode is a quick and easy solution, read more about it here.
If the Standalone mode doesn't offer as many features and configuration options as needed, but moving on to a simpler model of network is preferred, the UniFi Dream Machine (UDM) offers an all-in-one solution setup which includes access point, security gateway, switch and Cloud Key capabilities. To set up a new UDM, please follow the UDM Quick Start Guide.
Installing the UniFi Network Controller Software
1. For Controllers hosted on a UniFi Cloud Key, or UniFi Dream Machine please follow the instructions stated in their corresponding Quick Start Guide (found in our Downloads page). You will be able to enter the Setup Wizard using the mobile app or a Chrome browser by entering the IP of your UCK in the browser, or if using the UDM by navigating to https://setup.ui.com. Skip to step 3 to follow the Setup Wizard.
For Controllers that will be installed on a computer or server, download the UniFi Network Controller Software for your Specific OS (Windows, macOS, Debian/Ubuntu Linux) within Downloads in the software section. Please make sure the file downloaded is software and not the firmware (.bin or .tar) of the device.
2. For Controllers hosted on a computer or server, once you download the software, open the downloaded file you should see a screen similar to this. Click on launch. Use Google Chrome as your web browser, as other browsers may have limited functionality.
Alternate steps for users without DHCP on WAN (ISP).
You might get a warning message stating "Your connection is not private". Click Advanced and then click on Proceed to (localhost) at the bottom of the message to safely continue to the next page.
3. Follow the Setup Wizard to continue with the UniFi Network Controller setup. The steps shown below are for setup using Chrome. Setup using the mobile app should be similar, use the screenshots as a guide.
3.1 Name Your Controller. Give your controller a unique name so you can easily identify it when you use the remote access feature if you have multiple controllers in different sites.
3.2 Sign in with your Ubiquiti SSO Account. If you haven't created it yet, you can do so now. The username cannot contain spaces and it will be case sensitive.
3.3 UniFi Network Setup. This is just a basic configuration for your network, with two helpful options you can enable to have an effortless setup where you won't have to manually configure anything. We recommend enabling both: "optimize my network" and "auto backup".
3.4 Devices Setup. This step allows you to set up all the UniFi devices you wish to add to your network at once, such as UniFi Switches, UniFi Security Gateways, Access Points, etc.
3.5. WiFi Setup. Create a name for your wireless network and password. Enable combining 2GHz and 5GHz networks if you wish to only see one wireless network that will allow connecting to either band. If it is not enabled, you will see two separate networks on your WiFi list with a 2GHz and 5Ghz to distinguish them.
3.6. Review Configuration. The final step is to review your configuration settings making sure that you are using the correct country and timezone for your devices and area. Once everything is set up the way you want click Finish. Your setup is complete.
3.7. The UniFi Network Controller login screen will appear. Here you will input the Admin name and password you created during the Setup Wizard in step 3.2.
3.8. Under the Devices tab you will see the devices you adopted during the Setup Wizard.
3.9. If you go to Settings > Wireless Networks you will see the network you created during the Setup Wizard. You should also see them under your computer's available WiFi networks (you might need to refresh your computer's WiFi networks and wait for a moment to see it). Just connect to it and you're set! You can now disconnect your computer from the Ethernet cable.
Now that you have a working network, you can start configuring to your liking. These are a few of our suggestions:
- UniFi - How To Use a Free Email Service as SMTP Server (Gmail): set a SMTP server. This must be done in order for the password reset (FORGOT PASSWORD?) to work. If this is not configured successfully and you lose your password, you will be locked out of your Controller.
- UniFi - Guest Network, Guest Portal and Hotspot System: want to create a guest network? Take a look at this article.
- UniFi - Device Adoption: need to adopt UniFi devices on an already setup Controller? This article explains how.
- UniFi - Getting Started FAQ: some common questions about UniFi Networking.