PuTTY Basics

Unlike Windows 10, Windows 8.1 and older don't have a built in SSH client, so you would need to install one for those versions. One of the most popular SSH clients for Windows is called PuTTY, mostly because it's been around for a long time and it's very simple to use.

WARNING: Support for Windows 7 has ended on 14 January 2020, and Windows 8.1 ends on 10 January 2023. Use of unsupported/legacy versions of Windows may place you at high risk for malware, viruses, and/or other risks. Do not use unsupported/legacy versions of Windows in any form of production environment.

If you do not have PuTTY installed:

  1. Download the latest version of PuTTY.
  2. Open the file that you just downloaded and then launch PuTTY itself.

Now you need to tell PuTTY which computer to connect to. Simply type the server hostname into the 'Host Name (or IP address)' field and leave everything else as it is on that page.

Next, you will need to tell PuTTY what username to use. Go to Connection > Data and enter your username in the Auto-login username box. Leave everything else as it is on that page.

If you signed-up with an SSH key, you would also want to tell Putty what key to use. Go to Connection > SSH > Auth and select the private key that was generated when making the key pair. Again, leave everything else as it is on that page.

Before you load the connection, go back to Session (at the top of the list), and save the settings by either selecting "Default Settings" or entering a name for your PuTTY config, and then clicking "save". This way you won't have to re-setup PuTTY every time you want to log onto the server.

Then you can click 'Open' to start up a connection. After you click the button you might get a warning like this:

This is fine if you're connecting for the first time, so just hit 'Yes' to continue. If you're logging in with password-based authentication, you'll get a message saying:

[email protected]<hostnamed>'s password:

This is just the server asking for your password to make sure that you are you.

If you're using SSH publickey authentication with a password, you'll get a message saying:

Authenticating with public key "[email protected]"

If you did not include a password when generating the private key, you will be automatically logged in. SSH publickey authentication is a lot more secure since you would need both keys in the keypair to log on, so it can't get cracked the same way that password authentication can.

Tip: You can paste your password (or anything else for that matter) into the terminal by right clicking in some empty space. You won't be able to see anything happen if you paste your password though, you've just got to hope that it's there :)

Info: When you type in your password, whatever you type won't be visible. If you make a mistake, just hold down backspace to start again.

If you enter everything correctly, you'll now be logged in.