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Joseph Thompson
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How to Download and Install PuTTY on Windows - The Best SSH and Telnet Tool

How to Download and Install PuTTY on Windows

If you need to connect to a remote computer or device over an unsecure network, such as SSH, Telnet, rlogin, or SCP, you may want to use PuTTY, a free and open-source terminal emulator for Windows. In this article, we will show you how to download and install PuTTY on your Windows system, and how to use it for SSH connections.

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What is PuTTY and why use it?

PuTTY is a software application that allows you to connect to a remote computer or device using various network protocols, such as SSH, Telnet, rlogin, and SCP. It can also connect to a serial port. PuTTY works on Windows and UNIX platforms and uses an xterm terminal emulator. The name "PuTTY" has no official meaning.

PuTTY features and benefits

PuTTY supports many variations on the secure remote terminal, and provides user control over the SSH encryption key and protocol version, alternate ciphers such as AES, 3DES, RC4, Blowfish, DES, and Public-key authentication. PuTTY uses its own format of key files PPK (protected by Message Authentication Code).

PuTTY also supports SSO through GSSAPI, including user provided GSSAPI DLLs. It also can emulate control sequences from xterm, VT220, VT102 or ECMA-48 terminal emulation, and allows local, remote, or dynamic port forwarding with SSH (including X11 forwarding). The network communication layer supports IPv6, and the SSH protocol supports the delayed compression scheme. It can also be used with local serial port connections.

PuTTY comes bundled with command-line SCP and SFTP clients, called "pscp" and "psftp" respectively, and plink, a command-line connection tool, used for non-interactive sessions. PuTTY does not support session tabs directly, but many wrappers are available that do.

PuTTY alternatives

While PuTTY is one of the most reliable terminal emulators, it has its limitations. Fortunately, plenty of alternatives offer a more streamlined interface and a wider array of features. Some of the best PuTTY alternatives are:

  • Solar-PuTTY: A free software solution for Windows that includes a protected terminal emulator plus SCP and SFTP. It supports automatic login and reconnect, post-connection scripts, backup or migration of saved sessions, and customizable appearance.

  • Bitvise SSH Client: A free SSH and SFTP client for Windows that supports single-click remote desktop forwarding, auto-reconnecting capability, dynamic port forwarding through an integrated proxy, an FTP-to-SFTP protocol bridge, scripting using sexec, stermc, and stnlc.

  • KiTTY: A fork of the original PuTTY client that adds many extra features to the original software. It supports built-in chat system and text editor, login scripts, command automation and shortcuts, session filtering and auto-saving.

  • SuperPuTTY: A graphical user interface that allows you to manage multiple PuTTY sessions from one window. It supports drag-and-drop operations for organizing sessions.

How to download PuTTY

To download PuTTY on your Windows system, you need to follow these steps:

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Choose the right version for your system

PuTTY is available in different versions for different versions of Windows, such as 32-bit, 64-bit, or ARM. You need to choose the version that matches your system architecture. To check your system type, you can follow these steps:

  • Press the Windows key + R to open the Run dialog box.

  • Type msinfo32 and click OK to open the System Information window.

  • Look for the System Type entry under the System Summary section. It will show you whether your system is x86-based (32-bit) or x64-based (64-bit).

If you have an ARM-based system, such as a Surface Pro X, you need to download the ARM version of PuTTY.

Download the installation package from the official website

Once you know your system type, you can download the PuTTY installation package from the official website:

On this page, you will see different download options for PuTTY. You can choose either the MSI installer or the ZIP archive. The MSI installer is recommended for most users, as it will install PuTTY and all its components automatically. The ZIP archive is useful if you want to run PuTTY without installing it, or if you want to copy it to a USB drive or another computer.

To download the MSI installer, click on the link that corresponds to your system type. For example, if you have a 64-bit system, click on putty-64bit-0.76-installer.msi. This will start the download process and save the file to your default download location.

How to install PuTTY

To install PuTTY on your Windows system, you need to follow these steps:

Run the installer and follow the steps

After downloading the MSI installer, locate it in your download folder and double-click on it to launch it. You may see a User Account Control prompt asking for permission to run the installer. Click Yes to continue.

The PuTTY Setup Wizard will open and guide you through the installation process. Click Next to proceed.

On the next screen, you can choose the destination folder where PuTTY will be installed. The default location is C:\Program Files\PuTTY\. You can change it by clicking on Browse and selecting a different folder. Click Next to continue.

Customize the installation options if needed

On the next screen, you can customize the installation options for PuTTY. You can choose which components to install, such as PuTTY itself, PuTTYgen (a key generator tool), Pageant (an SSH authentication agent), and PSCP/PSFTP (command-line SCP and SFTP clients). You can also choose whether to create shortcuts on the Start Menu and/or Desktop, and whether to associate PuTTY with SSH and Telnet URLs. By default, all options are selected. You can uncheck any option that you don't need. Click Next to continue.

On the next screen, you can choose whether to create a PuTTY folder in your Documents folder. This folder will store your saved sessions and configuration settings for PuTTY. By default, this option is enabled. You can disable it by unchecking the box. Click Next to continue.

On the final screen, you can review your installation settings and click Install to start the installation process. Wait for a few seconds until the installation is complete.

How to use PuTTY for SSH connections

To use PuTTY for SSH connections, you need to follow these steps:

Launch PuTTY and enter the host name or IP address

After installing PuTTY, you can launch it from the Start Menu or Desktop shortcut. You will see the PuTTY Configuration window with various options and settings.

To connect to a remote computer or device using SSH, you need to enter its host name or IP address in the Host Name (or IP address) box under the Session category. You can also specify a port number if it is different from the default 22.

Accept the security alert if prompted

If this is your first time connecting to this host, you may see a security alert warning you that PuTTY does not recognize its public key fingerprint. This is normal and expected, as PuTTY needs to verify that you are connecting to the right host and not a malicious one.

To accept the security alert and continue with the connection, click Yes. This will add the host's public key fingerprint to PuTTY's cache and prevent this alert from appearing again in future connections.

Enter Enter your login credentials and start using SSH

After accepting the security alert, you will see a terminal window with a login prompt. You need to enter your username and password for the remote host. If you have set up public-key authentication, you may not need to enter your password, or you may need to enter a passphrase for your private key.

Once you are logged in, you can start using SSH commands to interact with the remote host. You can also use PuTTY's menu bar to access various options and settings, such as changing the font size, copying and pasting text, saving the session, and m


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