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UniFi - Device Adoption

Device adoption is the process of connecting a UniFi device to a UniFi controller so that the device can be managed via the controller. 

This article explains how device adoption works, how to adopt devices to the UniFi Network Controller, and helps troubleshoot any issues that may arise.

If you want to set up a UniFi Access Point without a controller, see Setting up a UniFi Access Point in Standalone Mode.

 

How UniFi device adoption works

A UniFi device that is not managed by any controller will show a static white LED. This means that the device is available for discovery and adoption.

UniFi devices can have one of the three main statuses:

  • Pending adoption (static white LED) - devices ready to be adopted to a UniFi controller
  • Adopted - devices managed by the current UniFi Network Controller
  • Managed by other - devices managed by a different controller

The UniFi Network Controller scans and displays all devices that are unmanaged or managed by other controllers.

When a device gets adopted to a controller, it shows up as Connected in the controller and gets its settings from the controller.

Before adopting a UniFi device

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There are a few things you need to make sure before beginning the process of adopting a UniFi device:

  1. The device should be set up correctly by following the device's Quick Start Guide
  2. The device should be powered on and showing a steady white LED
  3. The device should be on the same network as the UniFi Network Controller (local adoption). If you're adopting the device remotely, see Device Adoption Methods for Remote UniFi Controllers
  4. The device and the controller should be able to pass traffic through certain ports. If you're using a firewall, you may need to disable it or add an exception

Note: if you're adopting a UniFi Security Gateway (USG) into an existing network, see UniFi - USG: How to Adopt a USG into an Existing Network.

 

How to adopt a UniFi Device

Depending on how you manage your UniFi Network Controller, you can adopt a new UniFi device using the UniFi Network mobile app or via the controller's web UI.

Adoption via UniFi Network mobile app

If your controller is hosted on a UniFi Dream Machine, UniFi Dream Machine Pro or UniFi Cloud Key, you can adopt new devices via the UniFi Network mobile app.

1. Launch the UniFi Network mobile app and select the controller you're using for adoption

 

2. Go to the Devices tab and find the device that is pending adoption

The Devices tab will list all adopted devices, as well as any devices that haven't been adopted yet - those will have a status of "Pending Adoption".
If you don't see your device here, follow the troubleshooting steps on this section.

 

3. Click Adopt.

Pending_Adoption.PNG   Adopt.PNG

 

4. Do not disconnect the device from power while the adoption is in process

After you've clicked Adopt, the device will go through Adopting and Provisioning statuses.
Do not disconnect the device until it's showing up as Connected - this means the device is fully adopted.

cVNMo.png

 

Adoption via webUI

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1. Log into your UniFi Network Controller

Type the IP address of the Controller host in the search bar of your browser (Google Chrome is recommended). Alternatively, launch the UniFi app if hosted on a computer or a server.

If you see a warning page first, go ahead and click Advanced > Proceed to <local host IP number>.

 

2. Go to the Devices tab and find the device that is pending adoption

The Devices tab will list all adopted devices, as well as any devices that haven't been adopted yet - those will have a status of "Pending Adoption".
If you don't see your device here, follow the troubleshooting steps on this section.

 

3. Click Adopt

If a newer firmware version is available, you will see an Upgrade option.

Generally, you should adopt the device first, then upgrade the firmware (unless an upgrade is required before the adoption).

AdoptWeb.png

 

4. Do not disconnect the device from power while the adoption is in process

After you've clicked Adopt, the device will go through Adopting and Provisioning statuses.

Do not disconnect the device until it's showing up as Connected - this means the device is fully adopted.

Troubleshooting common device adoption issues

Device doesn't show a steady white LED

The device shows a steady white LED status if it's ready for adoption.

 

If the device status LED is Off, check if the device is powered - check the PoE and Ethernet cable. If the device is powered, it might be managed by a different controller with LED disabled - in this case, see the Managed by other section.

If the device status LED is Solid Blue, this means that the device is either already adopted by a controller and now cannot connect to it, or the device is being managed by another controller which prevents the discovery of the device.

To fix this:

  1. Forget the device from the previous controller
  2. Disconnect the host of the other Controller
  3. Adopt the device to the new Controller

If the device status LED is Solid White but the device can't be discovered on the controller, see this article: Device Adoption Methods for Remote UniFi Controllers.

 

For more information about device LED patterns, see LED color patterns for UniFi Devices.

Device doesn't appear for adoption

1. Make sure the controller and the device are on the same network
If they are on different networks, see Device adoption methods for Remote UniFi Controllers.

 

2. Check the Ethernet cable connections
Verify that all Ethernet cables are connected firmly to the network device (switch or router).
You can swap the Ethernet cables to eliminate the possibility of a faulty cable problem.

 

3. Temporarily disable firewall and antivirus software
After the issue is resolved, you can create a firewall exception to ensure the devices work without disabling the firewall completely.


4. Restart the UniFi Network Controller


5. Upgrade the controller and the firmware of the device
If the firmware of the device is not compatible with your controller version, it can prevent devices from being discovered.
For more information about device firmware upgrades, see Upgrade the Firmware of a UniFi Device.

 

6.Use the Ubiquiti Device Discovery Tool to discover your device
The Device Discovery tool allows you to scan for Ubiquiti devices on your local network and perform actions with these devices. It is available as a desktop version and a Chrome extension.


If you've performed all of the steps above and still can't see your device, see the Advanced adoption troubleshooting section below.

Device is discovered but appears as "Managed by other"

When a device is in the "Managed by Other" status, it means it's already managed by a different controller.

There are two ways to resolve this:

  • factory reset the device and readopt it to a new controller
  • or log into the controller managing the device and adopt it to a different one

To reset and readopt the device (if you don't have the original controller access credentials):

  1. Press and hold the device Reset button for 10 seconds
  2. Release the button - the LED on the device should turn off
  3. Wait until LED shows static white, follow the regular adoption process

For more information about factory resetting your device, see the device's Quick Start Guide.

To readopt the device without resetting (if you have the original controller credentials):

  1. Log into the original controller and go to Settings > Site
  2. Locate the device authentication data and write it down (if you don't see the credentials, enable Advanced Features first)
  3. Log into the new controller and open the device's Properties panel
  4. Click Adopt and specify the information from the original controller

The device will begin the adoption process to the new controller and provision with new settings.

I'm seeing "Adoption Failed" when trying to adopt the device

If you're seeing the Adoption Failed error when trying to adopt a single device, this indicates a device-specific problem.
Try the following steps first:

  1. Check the LED status of your device
  2. Factory reset the device
  3. Update the device firmware

If this doesn't help, go to Advanced adoption troubleshooting.

Adopting a UniFi Security Gateway (USG) into an existing network

Please check this article for more thorough instructions on adopting a Unifi Security Gateway (USG) into an already existing network: How to adopt a USG into an Existing Network

Advanced adoption troubleshooting

Manual set-inform via SSH

If the device doesn't appear for adoption and the steps above didn't help, try the following steps:

  • Connect to the device via SSH (need link)
  • Run the command "sudo syswrapper.sh restore-default" and wait until the device reboots
  • SSH into the device again and run the following command (substitute "ip-of-controller" with the IP address of your UniFi Network Controller host): "set-inform http://ip-of-controller:8080/inform"

After executing this command, the UniFi device will show up in the Devices section on the Controller.

 

VLAN configuration of the switch

If all devices connected to a certain switch are unable to be adopted, make suer that the VLAN configuration on the switch isn't preventing devices from connecting to the UniFi Network Controller.

 

Ports blocked by firewall

The following symptoms indicate the traffic can go from the device to the controller, but not vice versa:

  • devices can be discovered
  • you can ping and SSH into devices
  • you can initiate the adoption process, but get the "Adoption Failed" error

To fix this issue:

  1. Ensure that port 8080 is open inbound on the device hosting the UniFi Network Controller
  2. Configure any firewall device between the controller and device to allow traffic via required ports

 

DHCP server issues during AP adoption

If the UniFi Access Point (AP) continues with the default IP of 192.168.1.20, this indicates an issue DHCP server.

To fix the issue:

  1. Make sure the AP is able to communicate with the router
  2. Make sure the router leases a DHCP address to the AP
  3. Ping the AP
  4. After a successful ping, SSH into the AP and get the output of the command info (this will provide details on the AP firmware, model, and the status of the AP)
  5. Ping the controller host/PC IP address and then enter the command set-inform to point the AP to the controller system.

If the AP is not listed on the DHCP lease on the router, this indicates no communication between the AP and the router. In this case, do the following:

  1. Switch the cables
  2. Reboot the affected AP
  3. If another laptop/PC or AP is available, connect it to the same port to check if they get a valid IP address and is showing up on the routers DHCP leases table.

If the other device (laptop or AP) is getting a valid IP address, this indicates a firmware or hardware problem with the AP. To fix this, SSH into the AP and reset it by using the command syswrapper.sh restore-default.

If other devices are also not getting a valid IP address, this will be related to DHCP request reaching the router.

In this case, you can perform a packet capture to check if DHCP request on port 67 or 68 are reaching the DHCP server/ router.

 

Double NAT

If you have two NAT devices (like a modem/router combo and a USG), there's a possibility of network overlap between the two devices. This can result in no internet connectivity for the devices that are behind the USG on your network topology.

To fix this issue, switch your modem/router to bridge mode (or contact your ISP provide to make this configuration change for you).

 

Related Articles

UniFi - Layer 3 Adoption for Remote UniFi Controllers

UniFi - How to Adopt a USG into an Existing Network

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