PuTTY is undoubtedly the most well-known SSH client in existence right now. If you were to ask 100 network administrators about this product every single one would be able to recognize the name. The PuTTY terminal has helped many administrators to conduct serial terminal communications and secure file transfers.
For a long time, if you needed to connect to a remote system, PuTTY was the tool to use. However, today there are a number of alternative products that provide a better experience than the original PuTTY program. The lack of scripting options and complex configurations of PuTTY has persuaded many users to make the transition to other products. In this article, we’re going to look at some of the best PuTTY alternatives for SSH clients.
Here is our list of the best PuTTY Alternatives for SSH clients:
- Solar-PuTTY (FREE TOOL)
- Xshell 6
- Bitvise SSH Client
SolarWinds Solar-PuTTY is a product that has been positioned as one of the most robust alternatives to PuTTY on the market. This Windows-based program allows you to manage remote sessions with ease. In fact, Solar-PuTTY requires absolutely no installation. This means once you’re ready to start you can hit the ground running immediately without having to worry about any additional configurations.
Like PuTTY, this program supports SCP, SSH, Telnet, and SFTP. However, it also offers a number of other features that you don’t have in PuTTY. Chief among these is the ability to save credentials for auto-login and the ability to reconnect automatically. The main advantage of these is convenience. You don’t have to manually log in each and every single time you want to use the program!
As is expected with a SolarWind’s product the user interface is crisp and easy to use. You can manage multiple sessions from one central location. Once you’ve connected to your network you can then choose to automate all scripts to automate your PuTTY style experience.
Overall, Solar-PuTTY does a good job of building on what PuTTY brought to the table while keeping things simple. The lack of installation makes this program ideal for organizations looking for a lightweight solution that is easy to deploy. Solar-PuTTY is available for free and can be downloaded here.
KiTTY is another product that has taken the features that PuTTY made popular and ran with them to create its own unique experience. KiTTY originated from version 0.70 of PuTTY but has since become one of the most powerful alternatives on Windows. This program offers features such as a sessions filter, automatic logon script, URL hyperlinks, and shortcuts for pre-defined commands.
Undoubtedly, one of the most useful features is the session filter. With the session filter you can manage multiple sessions at one time and organize them into folders. This allows you to structure the way you handle sessions and to segment folders to one per application, environment, or machine.
Another more technical feature is that of automatic passwords. Automatic passwords allow you to automatically connect to telnet, SSH-1, and SSH-2 servers. This allows you to access KiTTY more conveniently than you could with PuTTY. In other words KiTTY is more accessible.
In terms of improvements on PuTTY, KiTTY is well worth a try. It has such a range of features that it’s difficult to cover them all here. However, if you’re looking for a PuTTY alternative that adds automation and efficiency to the mix then KiTTY is a product you should definitely look into. KiTTY can be downloaded for free here
3. Xshell 6
Much like PuTTY, Xshell 6 is a terminal emulator that supports SFTP, SSH1, SSH2, Telnet, and rLogin. This product has emerged as a popular alternative as it allows the user to input commands across multiple sessions at once. Most of your session management is done through the appropriately-named Session Manager. In the Session Manager, you’ll be able to create new sessions as well as viewing, editing, and deleting established sessions.
One of the advantages of Xshell 6 is its built in security features. It has password, keyboard interactive user authentication, and a RSA/DSA/ECDSA/ED25516 public key. You can also encrypt your traffic to keep unauthorized users out. What makes this encryption particularly secure is that it is based on an algorithm that is continuously updated.
It is also worth noting that Xshell 6 has a dedicated Compose Pane. With the Compose Pane you can draft scripts before sending them on to the session directly. Here you can make sure that you haven’t entered any incorrect or harmful commands that could damage your system.
While Xshell 6 isn’t as well known as some other products on this list it delivers one of the better PuTTY alternative experiences. The only issue with this product is that xShell 6 is only free for personal users. Enterprise users will have to pay for a commercial license. One copy of Xshell 6 can be purchased for $99 (£76). If you’d like to download the free version of Xshell 6 to try out before making a purchase then you can do so here.
4. Bitvise SSH Client
Bitvise SSH Client is one of the more well known PuTTY alternatives on the market right now. This product boasts terminal emulation with single-click remote desktop forwarding and support for single sign-ons. In short, this program takes the foundations of PuTTY and adds a touch more accessibility to the mix.
This product doesn’t lack security features either. The service is encrypted with a variety of different algorithms including 256 AES, and 3DES in CTR or CBC mode. It also has password authentication with Windows accounts so you’re covered in many ways.
Bitvise SSH Client supports any desktop or server version of Windows. However, the biggest selling point of this product is that it can be downloaded for free. If you’d like to download Bitvise SSH Client then you can do so here.
MobaXterm is a Windows terminal application that allows you to run unix commands like cd, awk, grep, cut, tail, sed, wget, telnet, ssh, rsync, and rlogin. With this program you can launch and manage sessions on a remote session for SSH, Rlogin, Telnet, RDP, FTP, SFTP, XDMCP, or Serial sessions. Once you start a session it is added to the left sidebar and automatically saved for future reference.
One of the features that sets this product apart from the competition is its range of onboard tools. In terms of network tools, MobaXterm offers users port forwarding, list open ports, a network scanner, a port scanner, and a network packets capture utility. This allows administrators to slip in a little extra network monitoring while managing their sessions.
While there is a free version of MobaXterm it is limited to home use. This means you’ll need to pay for MobaXterm to use in an enterprise environment. However, the price comes in at $69 (£53) per user so it’s still relatively cost effective for small organizations. If you’re interested in downloading MobaXterm as an alternative to PuTTY then you can do so here.
mRemoteNG is a product that was tailor-made for remote application management. This is an open source product with regular updates and new features to improve the overall performance of the product. mRemoteNG supports a variety of protocols including RDP, VNC, ICA, SSH, Telnet, HTTP/HTTPS, and rlogin. This gives it a variety of connection types through which to work.
The main benefit of this tool is that it allows you to view all of your remote connections in one place. The interface is tabbed making it very easy to navigate and to find what you need. While this is a bare-bones product in many ways, it delivers a high-quality connection management experience.
Though mRemoteNG doesn’t have too many features what it does, it does very well. In the event that you want to learn more about the product, there is a wide range of documentation providing you with additional information on the product. As an open source tool RemoteNG is available for free. You can download RemoteNG here.
At number seven on this list, we have SuperPuTTY. SuperPuTTY is a Github project that builds on where PuTTY left off. This open source program offers the user a completely customizable user interface. You can even set up your own shortcuts to navigate your way into sessions in a matter of seconds. In the event that you need more visibility, SuperPuTTY can also support multiple tabs at once.
Configuration is one of the things that SuperPuTTY really excels with. SuperPuTTY actually uses PuTTY as one of its components. This is useful because you can create new profiles and sessions in PuTTY before using SuperPuTTY to designate which connection you want them to apply to.
Another advantage of SuperPuTTY is that there is a considerable degree of support documentation on GitHub. This helps you to get the most out of the program. There is also a dedicated issue tracking record so that you can see if any problems have arisen with the software in question.
Overall this is a tool that offers a welcome alternative to PuTTY. The customization available with this tool provides more than enough incentive to make the transition. If you’re interested in downloading SuperPuTTY then you can do so here.
PuTTYTray is one of the more popular PuTTY alternatives on account of its ability to minimize the system tray. Having the ability to do this from startup serves to maximize your experience so that you don’t have to waste any time. Really it is the small changes that make PuTTYTray such a welcome improvement on PuTTY. For instance, you can use URL hyperlinking to get to where you need to go.
Of course, PuTTYTray doesn’t stop there either; whenever a bell signal is received the tray icon blinks. This helps to alert you without you having to do anything extra. Likewise, it is also very convenient having the always-on-top setting located within the system menu. This gives you a level of accessibility that is lacking in the original PuTTY program.
The only drawback with PuTTYTray is the lack of support. It has been quite some time since PuTTYTray has been updated. That being said, if you’re serious about changing to a platform that offers a more convenient experience then PuTTY, this is a tool you should definitely consider. PuTTYTray can be downloaded for free.
SmarTTY is an SSH client that cultivates a smoother user experience than the original PuTTY program. This is a multi-tabbed platform that supports multiple tabs at once. This helps for making a fast-paced user interface so that you can get what you need to do done in as little time as possible. There is also a built-in hex terminal that allows you to view data in ASCII and HEX.
However where SMarTTY really gets interesting is its SmartTerminal. The SmartTerminal allows you to search for files, folders, and commands. This also has an autocomplete function so you don’t need to type out the entirety of what you’re looking for in order to find it. The advantage of this is that it keeps the user experience lightweight. This simple approach has a clear edge on the original PuTTY experience.
When it comes to security, SmarTTY is a good choice. Users enjoy the benefit of public key authentication right out of the box. This can be automatically configured so that you don’t need to enter your password every time you want to log in. In addition, your private key is stored within a Windows key container to keep it safe from outside interference by malicious entities.
With SmarTTY you can also run graphical applications in the form of XMing and VcXrv X servers. These don’t need to be manually-configured and can run from the moment you install the program. The convenience offered by this is congruent with the rest of the program. You can download SmarTTY free.
Finally, we have Terminals. Terminals is a terminal service or remote desktop client that functions as a formidable alternative against PuTTY and the other tools above. It was designed with the purpose of managing multiple connections at once, and does so by being multi-tabbed. Terminals offers support for RDP, SSH, VNC, VMRC, SSH, Telnet, RAS, ICA Citrix, HTTP, and HTTPS. This provides you with a range of protocols with which to work.
One of the main selling points of Terminals is the user interface as a whole. You don’t have to stumble around to find what you need. You can customize toolbar and search through key locations such as connections history to find your information quickly. Likewise, you can also use the Credential Manager to define the default connection credentials that incoming connections need to connect.
You also have a variety of additional tools at your disposal. For instance, you can run a Whois lookup, scan ports, ping, and DNS tools. Based on the variety of features, Terminals is one of the strongest products on this list. You can download Terminals for free.
As this list has shown, there are plenty of alternatives to PuTTY if you’re not a fan of the original program. All of the tools on this list provide a passable or better experience to the original PuTTY program. Even if you’re a fan of PuTTY it is worth trying out other programs on account of features that PuTTY doesn’t have. For instance, SolarWinds Solar-PuTTY offers everything needed to stand in for PuTTY, with an interface that is easy to use.
Alternatively, if you want to minimize the system tray then PuTTYTray should be your number one choice. This is also a solid product in its own right, but the main reason it’s popular is its system tray abilities and URL hyperlinking. It has a level of convenience that you’ll be hard pressed to go wrong with.
If you’re not convinced by these two then the Terminals program is worth a try based on the depth of its features. You get a convenient multi-tabbed user experience with a variety of additional tools to assist you as needed. The most important thing to take home is that if you’re not satisfied with any aspect of the PuTTY experience there are plenty of other tools you can use as an alternative.