Logging into office networks from home or other places has become the de facto mode of working in today’s COVID-19 world, and this makes SSH an essential tool in your work-from-home arsenal. The Secure Shell protocol, or SSH for short, facilitates remote logging. It also executes commands, supports tunneling, transfers files securely, allows TCP port forwarding, and more. Since it comes with strong encryption to protect communication between systems, more people today turn to SSH to continue their work seamlessly from any place. Before moving on to the best Windows SSH clients, let’s briefly see how it works.
SSH uses a client-server model to facilitate authentication between two systems and encrypts the data that passes between them. The server will listen in on port 22 (you can configure any other port too) for incoming requests from the client. Once the client sends a message, the server authenticates the client and provides the right shell environment if the verification is successful. The client, on the other hand, uses a TCP handshake to establish a secured symmetric connection and sends its credentials for verification.
As you can see, there are two steps to establish a secure connection. First, the client and the server should agree on common encryption standards for communication, and second, the server verifies the clients’ credentials. So, that’s a brief overview of the client-server model used by SSH. Let’s move on to some of the best SSH clients for Windows.
PuTTY is a popular open-source SSH client that can also be used for SFTP, Telnet, rlogin, and more. Its popularity stems from its simplicity as all that you have to do is download, login with the right credentials, and start accessing remote systems. It’s that simple!
This simple SSH client also helps IT admins to connect to switches, routers, computers, and other devices for troubleshooting.
Though PuTTY is a great tool, it is a basic one as it was first released in 1998 and hasn’t seen many developments since then. Some of the things you won’t find in PuTTY are:
Overall, PuTTY is a great tool for simple connections, but may not be the best choice for advanced functionalities.
Solar-PuTTY is one of the newer entrants in the world of SSH clients, and it aims to address many of the shortcomings of the original PuTTY. Also, it comes with many advanced features that help you to make the most of SSH connections.
MobaXterm is an advanced version of PuTTY and is a popular tool to connect to Linux and Unix-based systems from Windows.
Though it is similar to many SSH clients, it is also unique in many ways.
The Home edition is free while the Professional edition for office use requires a subscription.
SmarTTY is another good choice as an SSH client. This multi-tabbed SSH client comes with advanced features, and this makes it a handy tool for remote connections.
In all, SmarTTY is an advanced tool for easily accessing remote applications and computers.
SecureCRT is a well-known terminal emulation tool that enhances productivity, saves time, and comes with advanced session management features.
There are a ton of other features, making it a comprehensive tool for your SSH connections and remote access.
The SSH clients mentioned above are some of the most popular ones today. The exact choice of a client depends on your needs and preferences. If you think a simple client is enough to log in, PuTTY should be good enough. On the other hand, if secure file transfers and scripting are important, pick an advanced tool.
Have you used an SSH client? If so, which is your favorite? Share your experience with us in the comments section.
Featured image: Shutterstock
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