I recently upgraded my Unifi setup replacing my USG 3 for a Unifi Dream Machine Pro. In this post I’ll be doing a little review of the Unifi Dream Machine Pro. I love Unifi and have blogged my setup before. I’ve gone through tons of consumer WiFi routers and most of them are garbage. The combination of ease of use and price are just simply amazing with Unifi. So when I saw that the Dream Machine Pro combines Unifi Protect for cameras, acting as a NVR, a cloud key making it accessible from anywhere and upgraded features of a Unifi Security Gateway, I really couldn’t pass it up.
This review will be coming from the perspective of existing Unifi owner.
So installation was rocky to say the least. First of all, it wants you to use your phone via bluetooth to set it up, though upon a second setup I was able to go to 192.168.1.1 via my computer to set it up(more on this below). Secondly the first thing it asks you to do is to plugin an internet connection. Ok, fine. It will then update it self and perform a internet speed test. On android the installation kept looping backwards, this seems like a bug, though no settings were lost, it was quite annoying trying to go to the next step only to have it loop backwards to a preview step.
Existing Unifi owners, be ware. Especially if you are using this in a production environment and not your home network. At present, its near impossible to adopt a Dream Machine Pro into your existing environment. I have seen some say they had luck on the Unifi forums. However I had no such luck. I tried restoring a backup from my old Unifi controller and the Dream Machine told me that it could not accept it because it was from software on a newer controller. I found this to be quite curious since the Dream Machine is the latest and it updated itself directly after I plugged it in.
So instead, I was forced to reset my two 24 port switches. My two APs and adopt them with the Dream Machine. I then had to completely rebuild my network. I sincerely hope that this is just an oversight and will get fixed, because one of the best things about Unifi is how easy it is to use. Having to rebuild my network was not ideal, even if its a small network. Much larger networks that have money riding on them? That’s a deal breaker.
The features really are amazing. For Unifi Protect, I was able to install a 6TB HDD and it accepted and I was recording. I had no issues with adopting cameras and configuring them. Apparently the NVR can record up to 50 cameras, not that I need that many.
Network setup was as easy as ever, though again I wish I could have just done a swap of my old Unifi Security Gateway with the Dream Machine and have it take over the network.
It also comes with the cloud key built in which I never really needed or used before. However, I’m not totally sure if its the cloud key or Protect that allows you to view security camera’s both live and recorded video remotely. Its nice to have though.
I do wish that the 8 ethernet ports were PoE. This seems like an oversight.
It does have some other features that I won’t ever use like the IP phone feature and redundant UPS power supply port. Those will be some nice enterprise level features for companies using Unifi.
During setup the Dream Machine will ask you if you want it to auto update itself. I would advise turning this off. As about 2 weeks after I got my Dream Machine setup, I could not connect to either the Network controller or the Protect controller. Curiously, I looked at the front LED screen and had a message to go here. Best I can tell is that it tried to auto update itself and something went wrong. I tried rebooting, and resetting. I ended up having to hardwire a machine with a static IP into LAN port 1, uploading new firmware before it came back online.
Of course then it wanted to do a brand new setup. Much to my chagrin. Once setup, again, I was again, not able to restore from a backup, although it took the backup, none of my settings were there. I then had to again reset my switches and adopt them. I was however, able to set it up by going to 192.168.1.1 on my laptop’s browser.
It seems like the Dream Machine was released early, as it doesn’t seem as fully baked as other Unifi products. This review may seem harsh, but overall I’m really excited about it. I think once some of the software is more ironed out this will be a top device for Unifi owners. I’ve just had a frustrating time with it in the less than a month since I got it.
My advice would be to wait a few months and check further review to see if some of these issues have been ironed out. In particular being able to adopt the Dream Machine into an existing network, without having to rebuild your network and adopt your switches all over again. If you are doing a brand new setup, then this should not be an issue, just remember to turn off auto update for now.
Hi, I’m Billy York. I’m a Consultant at Microsoft, former Cloud and Datacenter Management MVP, specializing in monitoring and automation. Here you’ll find posts about AzureMonitor, LogAnalytics, System Center Operations Manager, Powershell, Hyper-V, Azure Automation, Azure Governance and other Microsoft related technologies.