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10 best SSH Clients for Windows: free alternatives to PuTTY

I thought I was pretty happy with PuTTY as my Windows SSH client but these 10 best SSH clients made me rethink. And I am no longer using PuTTY for SSH on Windows 10 machine. Linux based systems are becoming more and more common. As examples, DD-WRT router administration, ASUS router hacks, and Raspberry Pi management, all require SSH work. SSH or Secure Shell, in simple terms, provides commandline access to a remote system running SSH server. For any admin level hacks you will be required to SSH into your remote system. For several years I used PuTTY, but early this year I switched to MobaXterm Home Edition, a free SSH client for Windows, and I am more than happy. I have shown you how to install SSH on Ubuntu Server. In this post, I will cover some of the best SSH clients for Windows and some free alternatives to PuTTY.

Best SSH Clients for Windows

A big missing piece in Windows is the lack of a Linux compatible shell. There are several top SSH clients that fill this void. To cut to the chase: PuTTY is the most common free SSH client for Windows. My personal favorite is MobaXterm, which is free for personal use with up to 10 hosts. Read on to find out more about other free Windows SSH client options.

1. PuTTY (free; open-source)

Before we talk about PuTTY alternatives, let me first talk about PuTTY, which offers a great free SSH / Telnet shell for Windows. Some would probably say PuTTY is the best SSH client. I have shown you how to install PuTTY on Windows. Connecting to a remote SSH server is as simple as just typing in the IP address or domain and port and hitting open.

SSH Access with PuTTY for Windows
SSH Access with PuTTY for Windows

You may be asked for username and password to connect to the remote SSH server. Alternatively, you can use PuTTY with SSH keys to connect without passwords. You can even create Windows shortcut to PuTTY sessions to open an SSH session with one click. Now that we have seen what is PuTTY let us look at some best SSH clients that can be great PuTTY alternatives.

PuTTY Like Programs for Windows

The 3 SSH clients listed bellow are based on PuTTY and they look like PuTTY but provide added features to take PuTTY to next level. If you want to stick with PuTTY environment, then one of these SSH clients for Windows is worth a look.

2. SuperPutty (free; open-source; based on PuTTY)

SuperPutty is a Windows PuTTY alternative that aims to make a better version of PuTTY. However, it requires PuTTY to run. In other words, SuperPuTTY makes existing PuTTY install better. It allows tabbed sessions as well as SCP file transfers between remote and local system.

SuperPuTTY Windows SSH Client
SuperPuTTY requires PuTTY to run

SuperPuTTY’s features include:

  • Docking user interface allows personalized workspace and managing multiple PuTTY sessions easy
  • Export/Import session configuration
  • Upload files securely using the scp or sftp protocols
  • Layouts allow for customizing session views
  • Supports PuTTY session configurations including Private Keys
  • Supports SSH, RLogin, Telnet and RAW protocols
  • Supports local shell via MinTTY or puttycyg
  • Supports KiTTY

Recommended Reading:

3. PuTTY Tray (free; open-source; based on PuTTY)

PuTTY Tray, as the name suggests, is based on PuTTY. It adds cosmetic changes and extends PuTTY further using addons that make it better than PuTTY. But in many ways it looks very much like PuTTY. Some of its features include:

  • Minimizing to the system tray (on CTRL + minimize, always or directly on startup)
  • Icons are customisable
  • Blinks tray icon when a bell signal is received
  • Configurable window transparency
  • URL hyperlinking
  • Portability: optionally stores session configuration in files (for example: on a USB drive) like portaPuTTY
  • Easy access to the ‘always on top’ setting (in the system menu)
  • Android adb support

If you are big PuTTY fan, then PuTTY Tray is a great alterantive to PuTTY SSH. [Read: Connecting to Ubuntu Server using SSH Keys and Putty]

4. KiTTY (free; open-source; based on PuTTY)

KiTTY is a fork of PuTTY designed to function as a Windows SSH Client. KiTTY has all features from PuTTY and adds many more features.

KiTTY SSH Software for Windows
KiTTY looks very similar to PuTTY

While the entire list of features can be found on KiTTY’s website, some key added features are listed below:

  • Sessions filter
  • Portability
  • Shortcuts for pre-defined command
  • Automatic password
  • Running a locally saved script on a remote session
  • An icon for each session
  • Send to tray
  • Quick start of a duplicate session
  • pscp.exe and WinSCP integration

KiTTY is another great alternative to PuTTY.

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About the author

Anand

Anand is a self-learned computer enthusiast, a part-time blogger, and a Food Scientist by career. He has been blogging since 2010 on Linux, Ubuntu, Home/Media/File Servers, Smart Home Automation, and related HOW-TOs on htpcbeginner.com and smarthomebeginner.com.

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