Windows

How to Use SSH in Windows: 5 Easy Ways

Christian Cawley Updated 12-06-2020

SSH (Secure Shell) is an encrypted network protocol used for connecting to devices over a network or the internet. Linux computers come with a preinstalled SSH tool that can be accessed with a terminal command, but what about Windows?

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Several SSH options are available for Windows, including a built-in SSH tool. Here’s how to use SSH in Windows using native and third-party apps.

Why Do You Need SSH on Windows?

SSH is the de facto solution for securely accessing remote terminals on Linux and other UNIX-like systems. If you have a remote SSH server you want to access, you need an SSH client. SSH can be used for anything from remotely accessing a computer on your network to managing and backing up a website How to Back Up Your Website Through SSH Command Line Need to back up your website in a pinch? Forget plugins! Here's how to back up a website using SSH on GoDaddy and other webhosts. Read More .

While Windows has long included the Telnet client, it is extremely insecure— so you should only use it between directly connected devices. For safe, secure, encrypted SSH, you need better software. Five tools are available for SSH in Windows:

  1. PuTTY
  2. Windows PowerShell
  3. Secure Shell for Google Chrome
  4. OpenSSH for Cygwin Terminal
  5. FileZilla’s SSH FTP Feature

Keep reading to find out how to use SSH Windows with each of these utilities.

1. PuTTY for Windows Desktop

SSH in Windows using PuTTY

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PuTTY is the most popular app for connecting to SSH servers on Windows. PuTTY’s interface may seem a bit intimidating and complicated at first, but it’s fairly simple once you start using it.

To use PuTTY, all you really need to do is launch putty.exe. Here, enter the hostname (or IP address) of the remote server, ensure the port is correct, and click Open. PuTTY will connect to the server and prompt you for a username and password.

You can also save this session information if you like. Click the Default Settings option then click on Save and PuTTY will use your saved settings every time it opens.

Alternatively, set a different profile for each connection, input a name in the Saved Sessions field and click Save.

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Learn how to use SSH on Windows 10 with PuTTY

Download: PuTTY (Free)

2. Use Windows PowerShell for SSH

Use Windows PowerShell as an SSH client

If you want a Microsoft-built Windows command line SSH tool that is built into the operating system, you’re in luck.

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Windows PowerShell has slowly been taking over from the Windows Command Prompt app since it was introduced in Windows 7. More recently, support for OpenSSH has been added, which you can incorporate in PowerShell as follows:

  1. Press WIN + I to open Settings.
  2. Open Apps > Apps & features
  3. Click Optional features
  4. Click +Add a feature
  5. Browse the list to find OpenSSH Client
  6. Select and click Install
  7. When this has completed reboot Windows 10

With OpenSSH added, you can use it by opening Windows PowerShell (right-click Start > PowerShell) and typing a connection command. For example:

ssh username@192.1.1.10

You’ll be prompted for your password, so enter this and agree to the security certificate.

3. Secure Shell for Google Chrome

Google provides an SSH client called Secure Shell App, that can be added to the Chrome browser. Just install the Secure Shell app from the Chrome Web store. Although it runs in the Chrome browser, it runs completely offline so you don’t need internet access to use it. So it works as well with devices on your local network as it does with remote servers.

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Secure Shell App opens as a browser tab. Simply enter your credentials and the hostname (IP address) of the remote SSH server. You can also append additional SSH command-line arguments, if necessary.

As with other Chrome web apps, the Secure Shell App can open in a dedicated window to separate it from your main browser.

As Secure Shell is a Chrome web app, it’s also available for macOS, Linux, and even Chrome OS.

Download: Secure Shell App for Google Chrome

4. OpenSSH for Cygwin Terminal

If you’re routinely using the standard SSH command on Linux, macOS, and other UNIX-like systems, Cygwin features SSH support.

If you’re new to SSH, you’ll probably want to use a graphical option like PuTTY. However, if you’re experienced with command line activity, you’ll find Cygwin’s OpenSSH implantation works as it does on other platforms.

Cygwin is a large installation package so you may prefer to install just OpenSSH.

To do this, run the downloaded installer and when you’re prompted to Select Packages, search for OpenSSH. Expand Net and in the New column, click Skip so it displays the version to download.

Click Next to proceed, review the packages to be installed, then Next again.

After the installation process finishes, launch Cygwin’s Terminal application from the Start menu. To start an SSH connection, use the same ssh command that you’d run on Linux and other UNIX-like operating systems.

While a good solution, Cygwin can be difficult to set up.

Download: Cygwin (Free)

5. SSH Over FTP With FileZilla

SSH Over FTP With FileZilla

Often the main reason to use SSH to communicate to a remote device is to upload files. Commonly, this is because you’re managing a web server and want to upload a web application (e.g. WordPress).

FileZilla is an open source FTP (File Transfer Protocol) tool that has support for SFTP or SSH File Transfer Protocol. Obviously, this makes FTP transfers far more secure.

To use SSH in FileZilla:,

  • Open File > Site Manager to create a new connection
  • Add a New site
  • Select SFTP as the Protocol
  • Input the server IP address or hostname
  • Add the username and password
  • Click Connect

File transfers will now be made over SSH.

Download: FileZilla (Free)

Which Windows SSH Client Should You Use?

So which SSH client is the best? Well, that depends on what you’re looking for:

  • If you like the idea of an SSH client that runs in your browser, grab Secure Shell for Chrome. Bear in mind that Secure Shell for Chrome is the most limited option, and it won’t let you perform SSH tunneling.
  • If you want a powerful SSH application with a graphical interface that allows you to configure settings and save session information, use PuTTY. It’s the most popular Windows SSH client for a reason and it’s fairly simple to learn the basics.
  • For a reliable SSH command line experience, use Windows PowerShell or Cygwin.

If we had to recommend one, we’d say most users should go with PuTTY.

Still not sure? Here’s a closer look at SSH in PowerShell compared with PuTTY Windows 10 SSH vs. PuTTY: Time to Switch Your Remote Access Client? Let's take a look at how to set up SSH access in Windows 10, and whether the new tools can supplant PuTTY. Read More .

Related topics: FTP, PowerShell, Remote Access, SSH, Windows Tips.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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  1. ArKay
    February 11, 2017 at 12:32 pm

    I am currently moving data from a 5TB HDD to a bigger 8TB version and I've been at it FOR DAYS now. I have tried a few programs and most of them suck for that task.

    As long as those programs are writing to the Windows cache you achieve the 100MB/sec and up, but once the drive has to start empyting that cache to the disk, the copy operation comes down to a crawl (since it has to wait until the buffer has been emptied) and the transfer rate goes down to a few MB/sec. So up and down it goes all the time giving me an AVERAGE transfer rate of 20-30MB/sec. Even if I disable the cache in Windows it doesn't get faster, rather slower which is pretty odd.

    I am now using FastCopy for my task. I have been running it for the last 14 minutes and the transfer rate has been constantly somewhere between 100 and 108MB/sec. I think it doesn't use the Windows drive/write behind cache but does its own caching. In those 14 minutes I have copied 90GB. With any of the other tools I have tried it would have been 25GB at best.

  2. Abdelrahman A
    December 24, 2013 at 8:51 pm

    Any ideas on how to ssh INTO windows?
    When I read the title I thought it will show ssh servers in windows, not clients :)

  3. Akshay
    October 12, 2013 at 4:13 am

    its a modified version of Putty and you can change transparency in it sometimes it can be a usefull feature

  4. David R
    August 12, 2013 at 10:12 pm

    I cast my vote for XShell by NetSarang.

    However, as the same with Bitvise it is only free for Home/Individual use.

  5. Chris Hoffman
    July 31, 2013 at 1:25 am

    Interesting recommendations! I'm old-school so I personally still prefer PuTTY.

  6. Javier Sánchez
    July 21, 2013 at 11:26 am

    Hey guys, I would really mention mobaxterm. I found it really awesome.

  7. jasray
    July 17, 2013 at 2:24 am

    Yes, I agree that Bitvise is one of the better clients, but the article starts at the end of a process and forgets the beginning.

    Wouldn't it be better to briefly explain SSH, offer a number of easy to install or free to connect to SSH servers, and then explain and show how each tool works. The command to connect to an SSH server is relatively painless; the command noted couldn't possibly connect securely to anything.

    Bitvise, Kitty, Putty, etc. aren't that intuitive for someone wanting to improve his/her security, and very few people know how easy it is to set up a SSH server for free on their Windows machine.

    The article, then, is of what value?

  8. Hardik H Hadvani
    July 16, 2013 at 4:14 pm

    its a modified version of Putty and you can change transparency in it sometimes it can be a usefull feature
    [Broken URL Removed]

  9. Adi S
    July 16, 2013 at 3:21 pm

    WinSCP is the best.

  10. Dany Bouffard
    July 16, 2013 at 12:44 pm

    I use Kitty, its a modified version of Putty and you can change transparency in it sometimes it can be a usefull feature.

  11. Gregorius
    July 16, 2013 at 7:35 am

    I'm missing the brilliant MobaXterm (http://mobaxterm.mobatek.net/)

  12. Zvika
    July 16, 2013 at 6:09 am

    You should review and add MobaXTerm since it tops everything you mentioned here (even deserve its own Blog Post I believe).
    I became an addict a few years ago and never went back to Putty or anything else. MobaXTerm sits as honored daily used app in my RocketDock Mac-Like beautiful launcher :)

  13. Max
    July 16, 2013 at 12:34 am

    Bitvise SSH client is awesome too.
    Has shell, file transfer, etc...