Do you want to access your computer from a remote location? Well, the best way for Windows users is to use Secure Shell (SSH) to connect to their computers. If you do not know how to do that, do not worry because this guide will explain it in detail i.e. how to SSH to a Windows server? But before that, let’s first understand SSH.
What is SSH?
SSH refers to Secure Shell. It is an encrypted network protocol used to connect to a remote computer or a server. SSH utilizes a text-based interface. You can also use SSH for other purposes, such as SSH tunneling and SCP file transfers.
When you establish an SSH connection on a remote machine, you will then gain access to the server, and you can type commands on the remote computer. You can virtually do anything on a computer while physically sitting somewhere else and using some other machine.
There are many SSH options available for Windows, and one of them is a built-in SSH tool. Now let’s see how we can use SSH on Windows. Let’s start with the basic requirements.
Prior to establishing an SSH connection to a Windows server, you must meet the following requirements:
- The remote machine must remain switched on continuously and have a constant internet connection.
- You must have installed and enabled client and server applications beforehand.
- Allow all the necessary permissions to access your remote machine.
- You should have with you the IP address or the name of the remote computer that you are trying to establish a connection to.
- On your remote computer, the firewall settings must allow a remote or SSH connection.
Benefits of SSH on Windows
SSH is the go-to method for securely establishing a remote connection to Linux and Windows systems. You will need an SSH client in order to access a remote SSH server.
You can use Secure Shell for many purposes, varying from gaining access to a computer remotely to managing and backing up a website. You can connect SSH to a Windows server with any of these 5 tools:
- Windows PowerShell
- OpenSSH for Cygwin Terminal
- Secure Shell for Google Chrome
- FileZilla’s SSH FTP Feature
How to SSH to Windows Server?
We will detail all of the tools mentioned above one by one to show you how you can use these tools to connect SSH to your Windows system.
First of all, we are going to use the PuTTY tool. To use it, you need to download it. PuTTY is the most popular tool that is used to connect to SSH servers on Windows, and although it may seem a bit complex for beginners at first, it is actually very simple to use once you get the hang of it. Here’s how to use it:
- After you have downloaded it, launch the application named putty.exe.
- You need to put in the hostname or the remote machine’s IP address, and you need to make sure that the “Port” box matches the port number required on the SSH server.
- Now you need to click on the ‘Open’ button, and then PuTTY will be connected to the server, and it will ask for your username and password.
- You will be connected after you enter these details, and you can end the SSH connection simply by closing the PuTTY window.
- If you want, you can save this session information by clicking on the ‘Default Settings’ option and then clicking on the ‘Save’ button. This will make it easier for you to connect remotely to your Windows server next time, as PuTTY will remember your saved settings and use them each time you open it.
2. Windows PowerShell
Windows PowerShell is a Windows command line SSH tool developed by Microsoft that is built into the OS. It was introduced in Windows 7, and since then, it has become one of the leading ways to leverage SSH on Windows Server. You can also add OpenSSH support in the PowerShell tool using the following steps:
- Press WIN+I, to open the Settings.
- Then select ‘Apps’ and then choose ‘Apps & Features.’
- Select ‘Optional Features’.
- Then click on ‘+Add a feature.’
- You will see a list appear on which you need to find the OpenSSH Client option.
- Upon finding it, select it and then click on the ‘Install’ button.
- After adding OpenSSH on PowerShell, you have to open Windows PowerShell and then enter the following connection command in order to use it:
- Then you will be asked for your password, so then you will have to enter it and agree to the security certificate, and your connection will be established.
3. OpenSSH for Cygwin Terminal
Another SSH client that you may be familiar with is Cygwin, as it features SSH support. PuTTY is great for people who are beginners when it comes to using SSH, but Cygwin will be a better option for you if you are experienced with the command-line because its implementation works much better.
If you want to use Cygwin to set up a remote server, it is best to just install OpenSSH rather than Cygwin because Cygwin’s installation package is quite big in size and will take up a lot of your computer’s memory. Here’s how to use it:
- You need to run the downloaded installer, and you need to search for OpenSSH when it asks you to Select Packages.
- Then you will have to click on the ‘Net’ option, and then in the New Column, click on ‘Skip’ so that you can see the version to download.
- Now you have to click on the ‘Next’ button to review the packages and then click the Next button for the installation process to start.
- Once the installation is complete, you can launch Cygwin’s terminal application by going to your Start menu.
- Then, to connect to an SSH server, you will be required to run the following command:
- You also have to make sure that the options given below are set to yes in the file named ‘/etc/ssh/config’:
- To start the SSH server daemon sshd, enter the following command:
$ net start sshd
4. SecureShell for Google Chrome
You can install an SSH client called Secure Shell App on Google Chrome, which you can find on the Chrome Web Store. The app does not require an internet connection, even though it runs on a browser. This is how you can use it:
- When you run this app, it will be opened as a tab on the Chrome browser, and it will ask you to enter your credentials along with the hostname or the IP address of the remote SSH server.
- You are allowed to add some extra SSH commands as well if you need them.
- Then you will have established a connection with the remote SSH server, and you are ready to control your remote machine.
5. FileZilla’s SSH FTP feature
Generally, SSH is used to establish communication with a remote computer so that certain files can be uploaded, and more often than not, a web application needs to be uploaded.
Through FileZilla, an open-source FTP (File Transfer Protocol) tool, it is possible to do so. It supports SSH File Transfer Protocol (SFTP), through which you can upload files to the web by accessing your remote machine, and this increases the security of FTP transfers. You can use SSH on FileZilla by following the steps mentioned as follows:
- The first thing you ought to do is click on the ‘File’ menu on FileZilla and then select the ‘Site Manager’ option.
- Then you need to click on the option ‘New Site.’
- Now, you have to select ‘SFTP’ as the protocol.
- Next, put in the IP address or hostname of your server.
- It will ask you to enter the username and password.
- After you have put in your credentials, click on the ‘Connect’ button.
- Now you can easily start transferring files over SSH.
Now that you have seen all the major SSH clients that can be used to set up a connection to a remote server on Windows, it is time for you to decide which one to choose. It depends on your preferences.
If you are more comfortable with a client that runs on your browser, then you can go for Secure Shell for Chrome without any hesitation but do not opt for it if you want to use premium features such as SSH tunneling.
On the other hand, if you would like a powerful SSH client that is easy-to-use, PuTTY will be the best option with its graphical interface that makes it very easy to configure settings and save session information.
Lastly, if reliability is a big factor for you in choosing an SSH tool, then Windows PowerShell or Cygwin will prove to be the most suitable pick for you.
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