UniFi - Setting Up UniFi for Beginners


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 (UC-CK). It will cover the initial hardware connection to the moment a working wireless network is created. The UniFi User Guide and device Quick Start Guides will be referenced throughout the article. These documents will always be found at the bottom of each product page, which can be accessed when navigating from the Ubiquiti Products page. They can also be downloaded from Ubiquiti Downloads. The User Guide is particularly useful to install and get familiar with the UniFi Controller and its different sections and features.

Although this guide will describe a setup that includes a USG, USW, UAP and Cloud Key, there will be a modified connection option described below if you do not have a USG and a Switch. However, if you are only connecting one or a few UAPs and aren't interested in using the UniFi Controller to manage your network, the mobile Standalone mode is a quick and easy solution. Read more about it here

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction and Feature Matrix
  2. Connecting the Hardware
  3. Installing the UniFi Controller Software
  4. Next Steps
  5. Related Articles


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It is not mandatory to have the full UniFi topology in order to use the UniFi Controller. However, keep in mind that when you use third-party devices, you will not be able to manage them with the UniFi Controller. Most importantly, you will not be able to use features that are available to configure in the UniFi Controller. See the Feature Matrix below to see what features are provided by each type of UniFi device.

UniFi Feature Matrix

UniFi® AP HD
UniFi Access Points
UniFi® Switch 8-150W
UniFi Switches
UniFi® Security Gateway XG 8
UniFi Security Gateways (Firewall)
UniFi Cloud Keys
  • WiFi
  • Traffic & Client Statistics
  • Client Rate Limiting
  • MAC Filtering:
  • RADIUS MAC Authentication
  • Captive Portal
  • Guest Access Control
  • RADIUS Assigned VLAN
  • airTime (only UAP-SHD/XG/UWB-XG)
  • SNMP v1/2c/3 
  • IGMP Snooping
  • RADIUS Assigned VLAN (802.1X) 
  • VLAN
  • DHCP Snooping/Guarding
  • 802.3ad LAG
  • SNMP v1/2c/3
  • Port Egress Rate Limiting
  • Intrusion Detection and Prevention System 
  • Smart Queues QoS
  • Deep Packet Inspection
  • DHCP server
  • PPPoE/DHCP/Static IP on WAN.
  • IPv6 
  • DNS Forwarding
  • Dynamic DNS
  • uPNP
  • PPTP/L2TP Client VPN 
  • IPsec Site-to-Site VPN 
  • OpenVPN Site-to-Site VPN 
  • RADIUS Server
  • Firewall 
  • SNMP v1/2c/3
  • Comes bundled with the UniFi Controller, easy plug and play setup.
  • Hosts the Controller.
  • Replaces a dedicated server or computer.

For this article you will need the following items in addition to the elements included in the UniFi product boxes:

  1. Four ethernet cables.
  2. A computer with an ethernet port.
  3. 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

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1. Read the Quick Start Guides (QSG) included in the box with your devices to get familiar with the ports, powering options and setup of each one.

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.

NOTE: Some UAP's have more than one port, use the port labeled "Main".

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 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.


Installing the UniFi Controller Software

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1. Go to the UniFi Cloud Access Portal and log in using this Ubiquiti Account. If you do not have an account yet, create one now by clicking Create account, then return to the UniFi Cloud Access Portal and sign in. This Single Sign-On (SSO) account and password will be your credentials for the UI Community, the UI Store, and the UniFi Cloud Access PortalUse Google Chrome as your web browser, as other browsers may have limited functionality.

NOTE: Your existing router or broadband modem must have a DHCP server in order for the Cloud Key to have an IP Address and for the adoption to take place. If you are not able to launch the Setup Wizard, it may be that you do not have DHCP on WAN. Click the header below to see alternate steps to locally configure your USG so it will provide the DHCP server to continue. Otherwise, proceed to step 2.

Alternate steps for users without DHCP on WAN (ISP).

1.Visit proceeding through the certificate warning. Click Advanced and then click on Proceed to <your IP>.



2. This will take you to the local USG configuration user interface.

3. Go to the Configuration section and select Static IP from the Connection Type dropdown. You must provide an IP Address, Subnet  Mask and Router address. Your ISP provider can give these to you. 



2. Follow the instructions in the UniFi User Guide, Chapter 2: UniFi Cloud, the UniFi Cloud Key section to find and adopt the Cloud Key using the Ubiquiti Device Discovery tool and then run the UniFi Setup Wizard. Ubiquiti Device Discovery Tool

User Tip: During the Setup Wizard, take note of the second and third set of credentials you will create. The Admin Name and Password are the credentials for this specific UniFi Controller you are setting up. You will also have the option of selecting a different set of credentials for SSH access or using the same Controller Admin Name and Password.

You might get a warning message stating "Your connection is not private". Click Advanced and then click on Proceed to (your IP) at the bottom of the message to safely continue to the next page.

3. During the Setup Wizard you will be asked to select your country and timezone, this table might help finding your correct timezone.

4. After you have completed the Setup Wizard you will be prompted to login with your Cloud Credentials. This is your SSO account, created in step 1. Fill in the information and click Enable Cloud Access.

5. The UniFi Controller login screen will appear. Here you will input the Admin name and password you created during the Setup Wizard.

6. Under the Devices tab you will see the devices you adopted during the Setup Wizard. 

User Tip: You can give all devices an Alias to help identify them on the Devices list by clicking on them to open the Properties panel. Go to Config > General and set an Alias.

7. 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). Just connect to one of them and you're set! You can now disconnect your computer from the Ethernet cable.

Next Steps

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Now that you have a working network, you can start configuring to your liking. These are a few of our suggestions:

Related Articles

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UniFi - Getting Started FAQ

UniFi - Understanding PoE and How UniFi Devices are Powered

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