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10 best SSH Clients for Windows: free alternatives to PuTTY

Alternatives to PuTTY

PuTTY is great and is one the most common free Windows SSH clients. That said, PuTTY looks pretty pedestrian and one of the biggest missing features is the inability to open sessions in tabs. Some of the PuTTY alternatives listed below not only allow tabs but also combine other protocols such as FTP, SFTP, and more into one single tool, which can be handy for a home server user or server administrator. So let us have a brief look at some best Windows SSH client options.

5. MobaXterm (free; paid Pro version available)

MobaXterm is a single Windows application that provides a ton of functions for programmers, webmasters, IT administrators, and anybody is looking to manage system remotely.

Best SSH Clients Windows - MobaXterm
MobaXterm Home – The Best Windows SSH Client

Some of its features include:

  • Support for several protocols (SSH, X11, RDP, VNC, FTP, MOSH, …)
  • Brings Unix commands to Windows (bash, ls, cat, sed, grep, awk, rsync, …)
  • Embedded X Server and X11-Forwarding
  • Tabbed terminal for SSH
  • GUI File / Text editor
  • Portable and light

It can be extended further with plugins. The thing I like about MobaXterm is that no intrusive ads / prompts to upgrade are displayed even on the free Home edition. The paid Professional version brings more features. [Read: How to SSH into Raspberry Pi for remote administration?]

6. SmarTTY (free)

SmarTTY is also one of the best SSH clients for Windows. It is my second favorite after MobaXterm and a solid PuTTY replacement. And best of all, it is free to use.

SmarTTY - Free Windows SSH Client
SmarTTY – Free Windows SSH Client

SmarTTY combines several awesome features into one application:

  • One SSH session – multiple tabs
  • Transfer files and whole directories
  • Edit files in-place
  • Built-in hex terminal for COM ports
  • Out-of-the-box public-key auth
  • Run graphical applications seamlessly with built-in Xming

SmartTTY is regularly updated and stands out among programs like PuTTY.

7. Dameware SSH client (free; paid options available)

Dameware SSH client is a free Windows SSH terminal emulator that allows multiple telnet and SSH connects from one easy-to-use console.

Dameware SSH Client for Windows
Dameware SSH Client for Windows

Dameware SSH client’s features include:

  • Manage multiple sessions from one console with a tabbed interface
  • Save favorite sessions within the Windows file system
  • Access multiple sets of saved credentials for easy log-in to different devices
  • Connect to computers and devices using telnet, SSH1, and SSH2 protocols

Dameware SSH client does not stand out from some of the other best SSH clients but it is comparable to them. On the free version it does show an ad prompting you to upgrade to their paid service. If you like the interface then definitely do give it a try.

8. mRemoteNG (free; open-source)

mRemoteNG, a fork of mRemote, is an open source, tabbed remote connections manager that combines multiple protocols into one application. Like some of the other best Windows SSH clients listed above, it also allows tabbed interface.

mRemoteNG - Alternative to PuTTY
mRemoteNG SSH Shell for Windows

mRemoteNG supports the following protocols:

  • RDP (Remote Desktop/Terminal Server)
  • VNC (Virtual Network Computing)
  • ICA (Citrix Independent Computing Architecture)
  • SSH (Secure Shell)
  • Telnet (TELecommunication NETwork)
  • HTTP/HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol)
  • rlogin
  • Raw Socket Connections

It is completely free to use and worth a try, especially if you prefer open-source applications.

Recommended Reading:

9. Terminals (free; open-source)

Terminals is a secure, multi tab terminal services/remote desktop client. It is offers several features and competes with some of the paid or closed source SSH Windows clients listed above.

Terminals - Alternative to PuTTY
Terminals SSH Client
  • Multi tab interface
  • Open terminal in full screen, switch between full screen mode
  • Favorites
  • Networking tools: Ping, Tracert, DNS tools, Wake on lan, Port scanner, Shares, etc.
  • Connections history
  • Screenshot capture
  • Open custom application from Terminals window
  • Multi-protocol: Windows remote desktop (RDP), VNC, VMRC, SSH, Telnet, and more

Terminals definitely has a lot of tools and features compared to some of the other SSH client software listed above. The full list of features and screenshots are available on Terminal’s website.

10. FireSSH Addon

If for whatever reason you prefer not to use a separate software for SSH remote administration, then FireSSH addon for Firefox and Chrome can be a great alternative. A great example is when you are on a system that you do not have administrative privileges. While portable SSH clients could work on such Windows PCs, FireSSH extension is platform independent.

FireSSH for Firefox and Chrome
FireSSH for Firefox and Chrome

FireSSH is an extension written in Javascript and allows you to connect to remote SSH server through your browser. If your browser allows tabbed browsing then you can open SSH sessions in separate tabs.

Concluding Remarks

The above list of best SSH software for Windows is not by any means exhaustive. There are other good SSH clients such as XShell (paid), Bitvise SSH Client (free for individual use), and TeraTerm (Free) that may be comparable. Also, please remember that the above list is focussed towards home server or media center users for basic administrative tasks and not business environments. Some of the Android media players can even be administered using SSH with an SSH server app installed. As mentioned in the article, I have used and like PuTTY but I have moved on to MobaXterm and have been very happy. For many, this will be a matter of personal preference. But I hope that this list of best SSH clients summarizes a few options to choose from.

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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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