For those new to having a VPS (Virtual Private Server), it can be a bit confusing starting out. One of the largest initial confusions is “How do I login?”. Many beginners come from shared hosting where a GUI panel is provided, often cPanel, where everything can be done with the click of a button. Learning how to login to your server is the first step to your future uses of command line Linux.
What is SSH?
SSH stands for secure shell. It is the secure method of communication between both you and the server you are connecting to. You can use it to perform remote commands on systems or even transfer data between them. SSH is also implemented into many other popular communication methods, such as rsync, and SFTP, due to its security and reliability.
SSH On Windows
SSH is a Linux / Unix developed technology and therefore is not native to windows. SSH is installed and native by default on all servers, but you will need a 3rd party program on Windows to connect to your Linux server. PuTTY is by far the most popular program on Windows to do this.
Installing PuTTY is as simple as any other Windows program. Navigate to PuTTY’s website: HERE and download the file with the name of
Once you have downloaded the file, install it as you would any other windows program. Now that you have installed the program launch PuTTY and the window below will appear.
Now that PuTTY is up and running we can configure it to connect to your server. In the field labeled as “Host Name (or IP address)” enter the IP address of your remote server. It will be in the format of xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx, all numbers. An example of an IP address is: 192.168.1.1 .
Keep the port as the default 22 and make sure the “connection type” is set as SSH.
From there look down further in the window and you will see a section to save your session. This allows to save all these settings so that you do not have to configure them in the future. Enter a name that you want to save it as and then click save.
PuTTY is now fully configured and setup to connect to your remote server. Click the open button at the bottom of the window to open an SSH session.
Host Key Security Alert
The very first time you connect to a server you will get a security alert. This is ok and is perfectly normal. This is just a prompt to make sure you “trust” the server you are connecting to. Click yes to add the host’s key to your computer’s cache.
After accepting the remote server’s key into your computer’s cache you will get a prompt with the words
login as: . By default this will be
root on most servers. Enter your username and hit enter. The server will then ask you for the account’s password. This will have been either set by you previously or given to you by your server provider.
When you are entering your password in this prompt it will not show up on the screen. This is perfectly normal. Your password is still being sent to the server just not shown for security reasons.
If once you have entered your password and hit enter and it lets you in, you have successfully connected to your server via SSH.
If you have followed this guide the whole way through you are now able to connect to your server and run remote commands. This may be a daunting task at first but learning how to use your server via command line is a powerful thing. Keep in mind when managing your server not to give out your password for SSH to untrusted people. If someone has SSH access to your server there is almost no limit to what they can do. Enjoy your new found command line skills 🙂 .
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