Unifi Controller by Ubiquiti: how to use the web interface

In my previous guide, we have gone and bought a Ubiquiti Unifi AP-AC Lite and installed it to our network via the UniFi Controller. Of course that’s just barely scratching the surface. The abundance of configuration options available will help give us more flexibility and security to our WiFi network than ever before. Before we go on ahead, there are a few things that you need to know about the UniFi Controller.

Ubiquiti UniFi products and WPS(Wi-Fi Protected Setup) compatibility

WPS allows for a wireless router to easily connect multiple devices without having to enter an WiFi password. The UniFi series of access points does not support this function due to a major security flaw that allows anyone to gain access to a router with relative ease, therefore bypassing any form of password protection employed on the device. When dealing with any wireless router with WPS, I highly recommend that you disable this particular feature as it’s most likely turned on by default in the router settings.

Ubiquiti UniFi Controller dashboard

Open up your web browser and navigate to your controller’s address. By default the controller utilizes port 8080 and 8443 for web access(e.g. 127.0.0.1:8080 in the address bar).

This is the front page of your Ubiquiti Unifi Controller. Here, you can see a list of devices connected, their traffic, and any particular error the system or access point(s) that may have occurred. At the top where it says “Everything is Good” is referred to as an “WiFi experience score”. A WiFi score depends on many factors such as whether enough people connected to the WiFi are experiencing a stable connection as well as through the WAN network that the access point has been connected to. It is also calculated based on WiFi density and whether there’s interference nearby from other access points.

Anomalies are errors and warning information displayed on the Dashboard. As you can see, I have 3 anomalies in my controller telling me that some of the devices in the network have been rejected. This is because some of those devices were previous blocked and are trying to access the access point again. When an error like this occurs, it is best to change your WiFi passwords to something else for security.

Just below anomalies we have “Association Failures”. These sort of statistics tell you how many times a device has tried to connect to our access point and failed for the following reasons:

  • Association Timeout – The amount of time it takes for a device to try and connect before being kicked off after a certain amount of time spent trying.
  • WPA Authentication Timeout/Failure – Same as association timeout, but for taking too long trying to authenticate the password.
  • Block by access control – How many times blocked devices on the block list have attempted to connect to the access point.
  • DHCP Timeout/Failure – How long it takes before being kicked out for trying to obtain and IP address from the router or server within the LAN network.

Statistics in UniFi Controller

On the left navigation pane, click on statistics. Here, you will find a section dedicated to displaying all traffic going in and out of your Ubiquiti devices as well as what kind of traffic is passing through what we refer to as DPI(Deep Packet Inspection). For this kind of functionality you will need to get a Unifi Security Gateway. The UGS is a router that provides DPI and is also dependant on the controller for configuration and functionality.

Maps in UniFi Controller

Right below statistics on the navigation pane is map. On the top left corner we currently have “Topology” selected. This allows us to see all of our Ubiquiti UniFi access points connected as well as our wireless clients. There’s also a “Floorplan” function when you click on “Topology”. It looks just like a blueprint for a house, this lets you design and plan where to place your WiFi device(s).

By clicking in “Place Devices”, you are given a list of various Ubiquiti UniFi products to plan and place. Search for Unifi AP-AC-Lite, click and drag the icon to a place on our floorplan. You can also add a new floorplan and configure it by either adding an image or by using Google Maps which is ideal for accuracy and placement of your network setup.

Devices

In this section, you will see a list of Unifi access points configured and deployed on the controller. Sky’s the limit as to how many of these you can add and manage at the same time. You are also able to update(if available), locate and reboot each access point with a simple click of a button on the right next to “Uptime”.

By click on an device, you will get a pop up on the right side of the web page displaying information about the access point, its status, users connected, and configuration options. Under “config” you can change the channel for each of the frequencies(2.4 or 5GHz) as well as DHCP client or static, for example.

Clients

Your wireless clients/users is displayed here. On my access point, I have currently 3 users connected with all solid connections. The green bar displayed under each indicates their WiFi experience score. The up and down arrows indicate how much date they have consumed via uploading and downloading. Again, by click on one of our clients, we can see their connection status, history, as well any configuration options available which we will get to later on.

Insights

UniFi Controller

Insights allows us to see who has connected to an access point and how many data has been consumed. It also lets us see the IP address assigned to them by our DHCP server, duration, when they’ve re-connected to the AP, and which access point/port that they have connected to.

By clicking on “Past Connections”, you will see several other options for monitoring devices. “Neighboring Access Points” allows for any access point within our network to scan for other nearby access points. “Client History” lets us see all of our connections in detail. We are able to see when they are first seen and the last time connected. To get the most out of everything else, you will need a USG.