In Windows 10 it is possible to activate the native OpenSSH client (and also the OpenSSH server) to be used to connect to Linux servers
For a network administrator, a developer, a systems engineer, an IT consultant or for those who manage a website in the cloud it is essential to be able to connect to their server via Secure Shell or SSH. SSH is a network protocol similar to Telnet and FTP that allows you to transmit data from one computer to another, which unlike other protocols, transmits information securely using encryption. OpenSSH is a popular app for every person who works in computer science, because it allows you to connect and manage a remote server using the SSH protocol as if you were sitting in front of it.
The novelty that is important to know for all those who administer servers is that in Windows 10 it is now possible to install / activate the Open SSH client and the OpenSSH server , making it no longer mandatory to have external tools.
In this guide we will therefore show how to activate the SSH included in Windows 10 and how to use it; for the nostalgic and for those who want to use alternative tools can always use one of the SSH tools available on Windows for many years and always valid.
How to use SSH on Windows 10
SSH was introduced in Windows 10 only in the latest versions of the operating system; if we don’t update our copy of Windows often and don’t know which version we are currently using, we recommend that you read our guides first What is the latest version of Windows 10? and How to force the update of Windows 10 with the latest version and, only after having made the necessary checks and after having updated Windows 10 to the latest version, we continue with the reading of the following chapters.
How to enable built-in SSH in Windows 10
To activate OpenSSH client and server in Windows 10, open the Start menu, go to the Settings app and select the App menu . In the App and features menu that opens, click on the Optional features .
Let’s check if the functionality called OpenSSH Client is already present in the list of features ; if it is not present, press the Add a feature button at the top and, in the following list, we search and add the OpenSSH Client and OpenSSH Server features to the system ; we can install them together or install only the client (aoco necessary to access other SSH servers) but, if we deem it appropriate, we can also configure an SSH server on Windows.
Once the computer has restarted we can use open an SSH connection by opening the Start menu at the bottom left, looking for the command prompt or PowerShell and typing the ssh command .
How to enable SSH using Ubuntu on Windows
In addition to the integrated functionality we can install Ubuntu’s OpenSSH , bootable inside Windows 10. As we know, in fact, you can install Linux Ubuntu in Windows by following this procedure:
- We open the Control Panel, search for Programs and Featuresand then click on Turn Windows features on or off .
- We put the selection under the heading Windows subsystem for Linux, press OK and then on Restart .
- After restarting the computer, we proceed with the installation of Ubuntu on Windows 10 bydownloading Ubuntu from the Microsoft Store
Once you have completed the steps above, you don’t need to do anything else, as OpenSSH comes pre-installed with Ubuntu . To use it, simply open the Ubuntu app in the Start menu and, as soon as the shell appears, use the ssh command .
How to use SSH with third party programs
If we want to use an interface to save the SSH configurations of various servers on the fly, our advice is to always use PuTTY , available for free for any version of Windows.
Once installed, just open the program, type the server address and port and proceed with authentication; at the end we will get a comfortable control interface and an SSH terminal from which to launch our commands . The program also allows you to save SSH configurations on your desktop, so you can immediately access our servers without having to type the address and port by hand each time.
Currently PuTTY is also the only way to manage SSH connections on older Microsoft operating systems such as Windows 7 and Windows 8.1; in these cases it is advisable to always use PuTTY to access the servers or, alternatively, update as soon as possible to Windows 10 and use the methods seen above. In this regard, we can read our guide How to Install Windows 10 from Windows 7 without losing personal files .
The only valid alternatives to PuTTY are KiTTY (an open source version of PuTTY), OpenSSH (of which we can download the most updated version compared to the one available on Windows) and Bitvise SSH Client (available for free for personal use).
A good system administrator or IT administrator must always have an SSH client ready to use and with Windows 10 they don’t even have to download anything, as it can be easily integrated into the command prompt or PowerShell console thanks to the additional functionality for Windows 10 or adding the Linux subsystem (based on Ubuntu). For those who manage many SSH servers it can still be very useful to use a program like PuTTY, since it offers the possibility to save SSH connections in convenient icons to be placed on the desktop and to be started all together!
If, on the other hand, our server is very simple and has a graphical interface (for example we used Windows 10 or Ubuntu as a system for the server), we can also avoid the use of SSH and focus on some remote control programs , such as those seen in our guides Best 7 remote desktop programs to connect remotely to your computer and Best PC remote control apps for Android and iPhone .
If we are new to SSH and want to integrate it into our device, we invite you to read our guide How to use SSH .
If we are looking for a program that can access FTP servers and other types of remote connections (for example WebDAV), we invite you to read our articles Best FTP clients to access files remotely and How to connect to an FTP server from a PC and smartphone .