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Connecting to your server using Putty via SSH.  Print this Article

GETTING AND INSTALLING

You can download a copy of the software for the Windows platform from the download page. Detailed installation instructions are provided on the installation instructions page.

RUNNING PUTTY AND CONNECTING TO A SERVER

If you selected to create a desktop icon during installation, you can start the software simply by (double-)clicking on the icon. Otherwise, open the software from the Windows Startmenu.

When the software starts, a window titled PuTTY Configuration should open. This window has a configuration pane on the left, a Host Name (or IP address) field and other options in the middle, and a pane for saving session profiles in the lower right area.

For simple use, all you need to do is to enter the domain name or IP address of the host you want to connect to in the Host Name field and click Open (or press Enter). A domain name looks like students.example.edu. An IP address looks something like 78.99.129.32.

SECURITY ALERT DIALOG BOX

When you connect to a server for the first time, you are likely to see a PuTTY Security Alert dialog about the server's host key not being cached in the registry. This is normal when you are connecting to a server for the first time. If you ever get this with a server, it could mean that someone is trying to attack your connection and steal your password using a man-in-the-middle attack.

But as said, the first time you connect, this is normal, and you should just click Yes. If you want to be fancy, you can check the displayed key fingerprint and make sure it is the same that is used by the server. In real life, almost nobody does that. It is more secure to use a proper SSH key management solution anyway.

Security Alert Dialog about unknown server host key

TERMINAL WINDOW AND LOGIN CREDENTIALS

After the security alert, you should get a terminal window. By default, this is a black, very bland window. It should first ask for your user name and then password. After these, you should get a command line on the server.

You can then type into the terminal Window. You are now connected to the server, and anything you type in the Window is sent to the server. Server's responses are displayed in the Window. You can run any text-based applications on the server using the window. The session terminates when you exit the command-line shell on the server (typically by typing exit) to the command line or pressing Control-D. Alternatively, you can forcibly terminate the session by closing the terminal window.

PORT

The port field specifies the TCP/IP port to connect. For SSH, this is the port on which the SSH server runs. Normally it can be left to 22. If for some reason you need to connect to a different port number, just change the value. Usually only developers would change this to a different value, but some enterprises are known to run SSH servers in non-standard ports or to run multiple SSH servers on the same server at different ports.

CONNECTION TYPE

The Connection type selection almost never needs to be touched. Just leave it as SSH. SSH is a secure, encrypted communications protocol designed to ensure your password and data are maximally protected.

Raw connections might be used for developers to connect a TCP/IP socket for testing (e.g., when developing a network application that listens on a TCP/IP port).

Telnet is an old legacy protocol that is almost never used, unless you manage equipment that is more than 10 years old. Telnet is not secure. Passwords are sent in the clear on the network. Attackers can easily eavesdrop on plaintext communications and steal user names and passwords. Rlogin is another legacy protocol with similar woes.

Serial refers to a serial port, another legacy communications mechanism for connecting computers to peripheral devices. Most PCs these days no longer have serial ports, but they are still sometimes used for controlling physical equipment, instrumentation, machinery, or communications devices. Another use for serial ports is debugging operating systems or embedded software.

LOAD, SAVE, OR DELETE A STORED SESSION

This section allows you to save your settings as named profiles. Just write the name of your new profile in the Saved Sessions box and click Save to create a new profile. The host name and your other settings are saved in the profile.

Saved profiles appear in the larger box below it. Initially it will contain just Default Settings. Profiles you save will be included there. Select a profile and click Load to use a previously saved profile. Select a profile and click Delete to delete a profile that is no longer needed.

CLOSE WINDOW ON EXIT

Finally, the Close window on exit setting specifies whether the terminal window should be automatically closed when the connection is terminated. There is rarely any need to change it from the default value of Only on clean exit.

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