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UniFi - Hard drive compatibility and management

You can insert a compatible hard drive (HDD) in multiple UniFi products, such as the UniFi Dream Machine Pro (UDM Pro), UniFi Protect Network Video Recorder (UNVR), and Cloud Key Gen2 Plus (UCK Gen2 Plus).

We recommend using UniFi HDDs (8TB) with the UniFi Protect Network Video Recorder (UNVR) and the UniFi Dream Machine Pro (UDM-Pro). They can be purchased from the Store after you add your device to the cart.

This article describes how to determine if your HDD is compatible with these UniFi products, how to install an HDD in a UniFi device, and how to swap HDDs.

Note: If you have questions about a particular hard drive or need help choosing a hard drive, please reach out to the Ubiquiti Community members for insights and recommendations.

Use of hard drives in UniFi devices

Neither UniFi Access nor Protect deployments require a hard drive to operate, but their overall functionality may be limited without one installed.

UniFi Protect requires an HDD to record footage on your device. Your cameras, however, will still capture live video and you will still be able to review their streams without an HDD.

Similarly, UniFi Access requires an HDD to record entry footage captured by UA-Pro devices. However, your UA-Pro will still function as a regular door access mechanism without an HDD installed.

UniFi Talk requires an HDD to store call recordings and voicemails. However, your UniFi Talk application will still function normally without an HDD installed.

HDD compatibility and storage requirements for UniFi devices

Most SATA HDDs should be compatible with UniFi devices, as long as they:

  • Fit the NVR's HDD tray (2.5” for the UCK Gen2 Plus, 2.5, or 3.5” for the UDM Pro and UNVR).
  • Are designed for continuous load or marketed as NAS or surveillance-grade.
  • Offer at least 1 TB of storage.

If you're using multiple HDDs with your UniFi device, they must all be the same size.

Note: Some hard drives require an additional 12V external power supply. These hard drives are not supported by the UCK Gen2 Plus or the UNVR.

Minimum and maximum storage capacity requirements

The minimum storage requirement for a single HDD is 1 TB. 

Ubiquiti has tested and verified HDDs containing up to 16 TB of storage. Please note, however, that no maximum storage threshold has been confirmed for any application or HDD model. 

Recording capacity (UniFi Protect)

When choosing a hard drive for your UniFi Protect deployment, consider your recording needs. Your recording capacity will change based on your HDD's storage and the camera resolution settings you select in your UniFi Protect application.

For example, the recording capacity for a 1TB HDD, assuming normal quality settings, is:

  • 9 days of 4K video recording
  • 20 days of HD (1080p) video recording

Note: Recording capacity can also fluctuate due to other factors such as custom camera settings, on-screen motion, and other applications in use (e.g., Talk).

For more information on how camera quantity and image settings affect the recording capacity of a typical UNVR setup, see the UNVR product page.

Confirmed incompatible HDDs

HDDs incompatible with UDM Pro and UNVR

Vendor Series Model Capacity Notes

Seagate

SkyHawk ST10000VX0004 10TB Does not fit the drive tray.

Seagate

Ultrathin ST500LT032 500GB Does not have bottom screws.
Western Digital UltraSlim WD5000MPCK 500GB Does not have bottom screws and connectors do not fit the tray.

Any

Any SMR Drives Any Drives fit the tray but cause issues.

 

HDDs incompatible with Cloud Key Gen2

  Vendor Series Model Capacity Notes

Seagate

Ironwolf ZA960NM10001 960GB Does not meet the Power requirements*

Seagate

Ironwolf ZA1920NM10001 1.92TB Does not meet the Power requirements*

Seagate

Ironwolf ZA3840NM10001 3.84TB Does not meet the Power requirements*

*The Cloud Key Gen2 Plus does not support hard drives that require a 12V supply in addition to the default 5V supply.

Inserting, formatting, and swapping HDDs

Inserting an HDD into a UniFi device

When the device is powered off, safely insert all your 2.5 and 3.5” hard drives.

For a more detailed, visual walkthrough of the installation process, please check your UniFi device’s Quick Start Guide.

Formatting an HDD (UNVR and UNVR-Pro only)

Raid formatting is the process in which your HDDs are split logically to prepare for redundant data distribution. If a specific partition or the entire HDD fails, its data will still be recoverable since it’s been distributed across other hard drives.

Regardless of whether or not your HDD has been formatted with the right RAID configuration, your UniFi OS Console will format it to the appropriate configuration.

RAID configuration can be enabled in System Settings > General under Storage & Capacity. There are two possible settings for RAID configuration selections for your UNVR or UNVR Pro: “One disk” and Half of disks”.

If “One disk” is chosen, then one of your HDDs will be used for data redundancy. RAID configuration is automatically set based on the number of HDDs inserted: 

  • RAID1 will be set for devices with 2 HDDs or less.
  • RAID5 will be set for devices with 3 HDDs or more.

If “Half of the disks” is chosen, then half of your disks will be used for data redundancy, formatted in RAID 10.

The UniFi Protect system will detect new drives inserted, and typically all drives are expanded at once.

There are a few exceptions when the system will expand the storage one by one:

  1. When your UniFi OS Console has only one hard drive installed, and multiple additional drives are then inserted. The system will first mirror the data to another drive, which makes your data protected by RAID1. Then, the system will expand the storage size with all remaining drives based on the logic above.
  2. When the device is running and multiple hard drives are installed. The system will detect only a part of the drives in the first scan. Afterward, the system will start expanding storage, and the rest of the hard drives will have to wait until the expanding process is complete. 

Note: HDDs will not be usable during the raid formatting process.
RAID0 configuration is not possible for any UniFi OS Console at the moment.

Swapping an HDD in a UniFi device

You can swap the HDD(s) of two UniFi OS Consoles that are the same model type. For example, you can swap an HDD and retain footage if moving between two UNVRs (UNVR and/or UNVR Pro), or between two UDM Pros, but moving the HDD from one model type to another will not work because of differences in disk layout.

Note: The UDM-Pro and UDM-Pro-SE (currently in the Early Access store) have different disk partition design. HDD swapping between them is not supported. The disk will be wiped out if:

  • the HDD from a UDM-Pro is installed on a UDM-Pro-SE
  • the HDD from a UDM-Pro-SE is installed on a UDM-Pro

Swap the HDD(s) of two UniFi OS Consoles of the same type:

  1. Turn off both UniFi OS Consoles.
  2. Pull out the HDD(s) from your current console and insert them into your new one. The new console must not have any HDDs in use. You must move all the HDDs used in the first console to the second console to continue respecting the RAID configuration, otherwise it will fail.
  3. Boot up your new console once the HDD(s) are correctly installed.

Note: If you remove an HDD from a UniFi OS Console with pre-existing data and insert it into a console with HDDs that are already in use and recording footage, the console will reformat the newly inserted HDD and your pre-existing data will be lost.

Spare HDDs

Hot spares act as standby drives in RAID 1 and RAID 5 HDD groups. If an HDD fails, then the UNVR or UNVR Pro will automatically migrate data from the failed HDD to the spare drive.

You can enable spare drive in System Settings > General under Storage & Capacity

Once the spare drive is enabled, your UNVR or UNVR Pro will request to do a format and one of the existing disks will become a hot-spare drive.

When an HDD fails and the spare drive is needed, an automatic rebuild will take place - the spare drive will join the RAID and do a rebuild. Once you switch out the failed HDD, the newly installed disk will then become the new spare disk. 

Corrupted or failed HDDs

Currently, there is no way for UniFi to recover information from corrupted or failed HDDs.

If there is a corrupted or failed HDD in your UDM-Pro or CK-G2-PLUS:

  1. Turn off your UniFi OS Console.
  2. Replace the corrupted or failed HDD with a functional storage drive.
  3. Reboot the UniFi OS Console.

Note: The UniFi OS Console will automatically configure your HDD and begin storing data. 

If there is a corrupted or failed HDD in your UNVR, you can swap that HDD out while the UniFi OS Console is still running. The console will repair the stored files after a healthy drive is installed. The UniFi OS Console will automatically configure your HDD and begin storing data.

Important: Do not pull out more than one disk at a time. 

Monitoring an HDD’s remaining space

To check the remaining capacity of your HDD(s) and your UniFi OS Console's internal storage, go to the General tab on your UniFi OS Console's settings.

If a hard drive runs out of space, its oldest recordings will be automatically deleted to create space for new ones.

Related articles

UniFi - Getting started
UniFi Protect - Getting started
UniFi Access - Getting started

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