UniFi UNVR – Recover from Failed USB Drive

Some of the UniFi UNVR’s have system files on a USB drive. There seem to be a number of the drives failing recently, rendering the UNVR inoperable. Fortunately it is easy to replace. The following steps should preserve the video recordings.


Steps to recover UNVR

  1. Power off the UNVR
  2. Remove the USB drive (use a heat gun or screw driver to break the glue that is holding the USB drive)
  3. Install new USB drive
  4. Temporarily remove UNVR HDDs (this may not be necessary, but rather be safe then sorry.)
  5. Boot UNVR with new USB drive. (Give it a little time to format and copy contents to the new USB drive. Should not take more then 30 minutes.)
  6. Setup the UNVR like it was before
  7. Power off the UNVR again
  8. Reinstall the HDD’s
  9. Power on the UNVR
  10. Log in and reconfigure the users

Note on Recovery

You could potentially mount the failed or failing USB drive on a Linux machine copy off a UniFi backup. Unfortunately, the UniFi Protect backup does not preserve the users. Just the video groups. You will probably have to resend invites to users.

Note on the video storage drives

It sounds like the UniFi Protect system will try to read the drives and if it can preserve the data or read the raid information it will try to use that. That is what it sounds like at least from the forums. More info on drive management.


Enable Syslog for PowerDNS Recursor

  1. Enable Logging in PowerDNS Recursor Config
  2. Edit Systemd Unit File for PowerDNS to Allow Syslog
  3. Enable Logging in rsyslog Config File

The following links were helpful in setting things up.


Enable logging in PowerDNS Recursor Config

First we need to find the line that says “disable-syslog” and uncomment/change it to


Next find the line that says “quiet” and uncomment/change it to


Some other lines you may want to check and change


Edit Systemd Unit File for PowerDNS to allow Syslog

Next we need to modify the Systemd unit file to allow PowerDNS Recursor to log to syslog.

systemctl edit --full pdns-recursor.service

On the ExecStart Line, remove the part that says


The resulting line should look something like

ExecStart=/usr/sbin/pdns_recursor --socket-dir=%t/pdns-recursor --socket-dir=%t/pdns-recursor --daemon=no --write-pid=no --log-timestamp=no

Save the file.

Enable Logging in rsyslog Config File

Edit the rsyslog file

sudo vim /etc/rsyslog.conf

Add the following line

local1.*        /var/log/pdns_recursor.log

This should now log all of the PowerDNS Recursor log info to “/var/log/pdns_recursor.log”

Restart the rsyslog and PowerDNS Recursor service

sudo systemctl restart rsyslog
sudo systemctl restart pdns-recursor

You should now see DNS request in the log file.

tail /var/log/pdns_recursor.log

They should also show up in the “/var/log/messages”

Update Matrix Server that is utilizing the matrix-docker-ansible-deploy scripts

Upgrading is fairly straightforward.


cd into the git directory and run

git pull

That will download any new files.

Run the ansible command, you can have it ask you for the password to use.

ansible-playbook -i inventory/hosts setup.yml --tags=setup-all --ask-pass --ask-become-pass

It should give you a report if anything failed.

Checking Postgres version for Matrix-docker-ansible-deploy


When using the above to run a matrix server, it can be confusing how to verify and check which version of Postgres you are running. Fortunately this is really easy to check.


sudo matrix-postgres-cli --version

And you should get the version of Postgres that is being used.

psql (PostgreSQL) 9.6

Change UniFi User Password from Command Line

  1. SSH into the UniFi server
  2. Connect to MongoDB
  3. Find user ObjectId
  4. Update user info with new Password

You will need a hash of the password to put into the database. We don’t cover that in this post. You could copy the password from a different user account or use a different UniFi instance to change the password and then check the DB to find the hash.

SSH into the UniFi Server

ssh unifiadmin@unifiserver

Connect to MongoDB

Connect to Mongo by typing in the following.

mongo -port 27117

Then select the ace database by typing

use ace

Find user ObjectId

The admins are in the admin collection/table. Use the following command to list all the users and their name, email, and password hash.

db.admin.find({ }, { name:"" , email : "", "x_shadow" : "" })

Update user info with new Password

The following looks complex. Fortunately though you should be able to copy and paste. You should only need to change the
– ObjectId to your User Id
– Password Hash to your password hash

db.admin.update({"_id" : ObjectId("223abc5489de0a93be758493")}, {$set: { "x_shadow" : "$6$nwpi7.q2$OuD9/UZGZt5cD739Dt7j8Gb1uPtfU99p0DeDSurSNBZVizieUrFVFbRufiZMgOk2IaaDZN9BVmL9yUwQ2mC8f."}});

Note: The hash above is password. Not recommended for use.

You should receive a confirmation that it succeeded. Test the new password by logging into the UniFi Controller.

For more MongoDB commands, check out this post.

Add UniFi Protect Self Sign Certificate to Windows

Manually adding the UniFi Protect self signed certificate can be helpful if you are accessing the controller over the local network. It has the benefit of letting your browser remember the password if wanted and not having to verify the certificate.

First we need to acquire the certificate.

Acquire UniFi Protect Certificate

In a Chrome based web browser, go to the IP address of the UniFi Protect NVR

Click in the URL bar where is says “Not secure” -> Certificate -> Details -> Copy to file

Follow the export Wizard. You can use the default settings.

Import Certificate

You can now import the certificate by double clicking on the cert.

Importing unifi.local cert

Note that it says to install the cert in the “Trusted Root Certification Authorities” store

Import unifi.local cert select Local Machine
Browse for Certificate Store
Select Trusted Root Certification Authorities
Importing unifi.local to the Trusted Root Certification Authorities
Confirm unifi.local certificate import

Now we can move on to Configuring the hosts file.

Add unifi.local to system hosts file

We need to add an entry for unifi.local as the cert if for unifi.local hostname and not the controllers IP address.

We’ll essentially be following the same steps outlined in the following post.

Add local DNS entry for unifi protect
  • Launch notepad as administrator
  • Open the hosts file in
Open Windows hosts file
  • Add the following line to the bottom of your hosts file. Change the IP address to the IP of your controller. unifi.local
  • Save the file.

You should now be set. Open a browser and got to https://unifi.local to access the UniFi Protect Controller.

Import cert.pem on Windows

First thing you will need You will need the .pem certification.

Next launch PowerShell as Administrator

We’ll be using the certutil.exe utility to import the certificate.

.\certutil.exe -addstore -f "Root" 'C:\Users\path\to\cert.pem'

Example output for importing a self signed UniFi certificate.

PS C:\Windows\system32> certutil.exe -addstore -f "Root" 'C:\Users\path\to\cert.pem'
Root "Trusted Root Certification Authorities"
Signature matches Public Key
Certificate "unifi.local" added to store.
CertUtil: -addstore command completed successfully.
PS C:\Windows\system32>

Extract UniFi .unf backup file

In this post we are going to extract the contents of a UniFi .unf backup.

This is helpful if we need to do any sort of recovery, or need to look through the database to find system information.

  1. Acquire backup
  2. Decrypt and extract backup
  3. Dump database to JSON file

Acquire Backup

This is easy to do. Log into the web interface go to Settings -> System -> Maintenance -> Backup and Restore

Scroll down to Available Backups and download.

Download Backup in UniFi Controller

You can also get the file via scp or sftp. Manual backups are located in


and auto backups are in


Decrypt and Extract Backup

We’ll be getting the following decrypt script from here. https://github.com/zhangyoufu/unifi-backup-decrypt More notes on it below.

We’ll need to make sure that openssl and zip are installed

sudo apt install openssl zip

Download the script with wget

wget https://raw.githubusercontent.com/zhangyoufu/unifi-backup-decrypt/master/decrypt.sh

Make it executable

sudo chmod u+x decrypt.sh

And now we can convert the UniFi .unf backup file to a .zip

sudo ./decrypt.sh autobackup_6.2.33.unf autobackup_6.2.33.zip

Now we can extract the zip archive. You can do this on Windows, macOS, or Linux through the GUI or you can extract with

sudo unzip autobackup_6.2.33.zip -d unifi

This will extract all the files and folders to a directory named unifi.

cd unifi

Dump database to JSON

You should now see the db.gz file. This is a compressed archive of the database in BSON (Binary JSON) format. We can use the mongo-tools to convert this to a more human readable JSON format.

sudo apt install mongo-tools

Now we can extract the archive and pipe it through bsondump.

gunzip -c db.gz | bsondump

You can run it through grep to filter out what you need.

You can also dump the db to a json file with

bsondump --bsonFile=db --outFile=db.json

More notes on the decrypt script.

The decrypt script is really simple. It looks like it uses a key to decrypt the UniFi backup and then puts all the contents into a zip file. There is also an encryption script. Theoretically you can decrypt, make changes to the config and then reencrypt and restore to a server.


# Authors:
# 2017-2019 Youfu Zhang
# 2019 Balint Reczey <balint.reczey@canonical.com>

set -e

usage() {
    echo "Usage: $0 <input .unf file> <output .zip file>"

if [ -z "$2" -o ! -f "$1" ]; then
    exit 1


trap "rm -f ${TMP_FILE}" EXIT

openssl enc -d -in "${INPUT_UNF}" -out "${TMP_FILE}" -aes-128-cbc -K 626379616e676b6d6c756f686d617273 -iv 75626e74656e74657270726973656170 -nopad
yes | zip -FF "${TMP_FILE}" --out "${OUTPUT_ZIP}" > /dev/null 2>&1

Obtain and Decrypt Cambium WiFi Router Password

By default the passwords are “encrypted” so you can not tell what the password is.

No way to view cnPilot WiFi password in the Web UI

We covered decrypting the passwords from the config file from cambium cloud. But what about a local router that is not connected to the cloud. What then?

Thankfully everything you need is on the router. We’ll need to use the command line tools.

1. Enable SSH

First verify that SSH is enabled.

Enable SSH n cnPilot

2. SSH into router

You may need to specify the “diffie-hellman-group1” option if it throws an error.

ssh admin@ -o KexAlgorithms=+diffie-hellman-group1-sha1

3. Extract Encrypted WiFi Password from config

The config file is stored in “etc/cambium/bkup-config.txt”

cat etc/cambium/bkup-config.txt | grep 

This should dump the encrypted password(s).

Example Output.


4. Decrypt WiFi Password

Now we can decrypt the password. Replace the string at the end with the encrypted string

3des_hex -d c760ba8ffe65c669

It should now display the decrypted password

# 3des_hex -d c760ba8ffe65c669

Note that it puts the # symbol after the password and if you try to type something in, it clears the line. you can use the following to have cleaner output.

echo $(3des_hex -d c760ba8ffe65c669 )

That will print the password on it’s own line

# echo $(3des_hex -d c760ba8ffe65c669 )