UniFi Cloud Key Gen2 Plus Protect Hardware Upgrade Tips

UniFi Cloud Key Gen2 Plus Protect Hardware Upgrade Tips
Photo by An Tran / Unsplash

Some two-(2) years ago now, I posted a a video about a bunch of UniFi/Ubiquiti hardware that I'd suggested for purchase to better manage my research team's various network use remotely with the idea that there was no guarantee I would consistently be able to access it physically due to whatever circumstance. The choice of a more user-friendly GUI was a big plus since I've been trying to teach, upgrade, and pass-along some intermediary networking skills as we all move into cloud native architectures.

Office Lab Overhaul for Ease of Remote Administration and Learning Curve

Now, I actually use these prosumer devices myself and I have, in fact, detailed some of the quirks of using UniFi WiFi products in the blog. However, for the office research lab needs and IT policies, it was to be lined all the way. So be it.

And then, the pandemic happened and that was immediately a return on investment in terms of time. Good thinking Wonder Dog? Me thinks so!

Upgrade Path

There have been several different upgrades to the UCK-G2-PLUS line-up in the last three-(3) years. I'm going to to stay with the line-up that still offers UniFi Protect at the ~$500 range and keep this entry geared towards my prosumer/SOHO audience.

You would think that the similarly priced UXG-Max would be the upgrade, and you would be wrong. This needs a Cloud Key to function as noted in the description. Think of it as a network bridge.

The most logical upgrade a few months would have been the Dream line-up starting with the, so called, Dream Router (UDR). The addition of a WiFi 6 access point at the same price point is the right path if you don't mind the pill-like form factor.

The next one to consider would be the Dream Machine Pro (UDM-Pro) which gives you a taste of 10G networking via SFP+

If you're jumping from the original UCK or UDR then it would be worthwhile upgrade to the Dream Machine Special Edition (UDM-SE) which adds some incremental IPS routing upgrade and POE features.

No longer in the sub-$500 range? It is sneaky for UniFi to slot-in an upgrade path to 2.5GbE with all the above features for an additional $100. But, that's what they did in the Dream Machine Pro Max (UDM-Pro-Max) and it answered one of the most requested features during the pandemic as the industry and the world looked to improving network speeds without having to commit to fiber or totally re-line their networks.

If you'd like me to talk a bit more on the enterprise-grade switches in my initial video, let me know and I might just make a follow-up on that.

Rack Mounting

If you purchased the rack mounting accessory, you may find yourself wondering why it doesn't slot correctly:

Correctly rack-mounting the UCK-G2-Plus

And, if after doing that the screen doesn't light-up? It's the tape seal:

Remove the seal tape before mounting the UCK-G2-Plus

If the LCD goes into Night Mode immediately and you can't see the display this has everything to do with your Console Settings and the time of day you were doing this installation. Check there.

Storage vs Protect

Last week the internal 2.5-inch one-(1) TB Toshiba 5400RPM spinning disk finally gave-up. These are OEM priced at about $67/piece and constitute about 30% of the total hardware price. Based on the specs these run at 5V, which is the expected available power for any disk replacement option. Take note of that.

OEM Toshiba MQ01ABD100V 1TB 5400 RPM

Cloud Keys (and some in the line-up) run hot and don't have a fan by design. Instead, it uses the casing to dissipate the heat. This makes it so the devices are absolutely acceptable right next to your work space, just make sure it is well ventilated.

Are you dedicating a room and air-conditioning to a converted server room? I once did that in Northern California. We're not doing that again. This human comes first, this time. Come talk to me in the weekly Hardware Geeks Anonymous meetings.

Ubiquiti made the tool-less storage upgrade process painless. All you have to do is slide the switch and the drive tray will pop out.

When selecting the replacement drive make sure it is a CMR (not SMR disk). There are not CMR disks beyond 4TB, as of today's search. That's a clue if you go online-shopping for a spinning disk. Western Digital, who now owns SanDisk, got a lot of flak a few years ago and now have a page about the difference.

Back to why I mentioned heat. This is a spinning drive disk killer. AKCP has a great article about this. It is for that reason I decided to repurpose one of the old Samsung SSDs that I had plugged in to the Dell R720xd mounted into a virtual TrueNAS Scale ZFS RAID1.

Did I mention this blog just came from the dead about a month ago? Here's that story.

None of the official join, adopt, migrate instructions worked. The cameras were connected to their respective access points but not showing up under Protect. How frustrating!

It was probably around 3am by when I gave-up and decided to go nuclear and hard reset each camera in turn. Voila! That worked!

We're now back in business and ready for Monday morning!