How to use Windows 10 SSH

Windows has offered a native SSH client and integrated SSH tools since the Windows 10 version. With these, you can connect to SSH servers without third-party software and even run your own Windows 10 SSH server.

Quick summary of how to activate Windows 10 SSH

Activate Client:

  1. Open ‘Settings’ > ‘Apps’ > ‘Apps & Features’ > ‘Optional Features’ and check if the OpenSSH client is installed - if necessary, install it via ‘Add Feature’.
  2. Open command prompt as administrator, e.g. with Windows search > ‘cmd.exe’ > ‘run as administrator’.
  3. Enter CMD command ssh.
  4. Connect to the desired server with ssh name@server.
  5. If necessary, consider the port: default is port 22, change port with -pPortnumber behind the server name.
  6. If necessary, confirm host key fingerprint with Yes and enter password for the first connection.

Set up a Windows 10 SSH server:

  1. Open ‘Settings’ > ‘Apps’ > ‘Apps & Features’ > ‘Optional Features’.
  2. Select ‘Add Features’ and ‘OpenSSH Server’ and ‘Install’ (admin rights required).
  3. Set the start-up type for ‘OpenSSH Authentication Agent’ and ‘OpenSSH Server’ to ‘Automatic’ in the Windows ‘Services’ app.
  4. Check firewall rules in the Run dialogue with Get-NetFirewallRule -Name *SSH*.
  5. Connect to the SSH server by entering ssh <server_name>.

What is Windows 10 SSH (Secure Shell)?

The Secure Shell (SSH) is used to establish a secure network connection between computers or servers. This works thanks to native Windows SSH tools via CMD commands and remote desktop without having to sit at the computer in question in the network. Just like Ubuntu SSH you don’t need any third-party software and is done securely over connections which are encrypted via SCP and SFTP.

This offers many advantages for administrators who use an SSH server-client connection to do tasks remotely. A connection between Linux and Windows computers, remote control of the computer, and transfer of encrypted data are also possible.

The advantage of the SSH protocol is secure remote access, thanks to the following security features:

  • Client-server authentication
  • Encrypted data transfer
  • Data integrity
Note

If you want to use SSH in Windows 11, follow our guide to Windows 11 SSH.

How do you use the Windows 10 SSH client?

These are the requirements for using SSH remote access in Windows:

  • At least Windows 2019 or Windows 10 (version 1809)
  • At least PowerShell 5.1
  • Administrator rights Follow these steps to use the Windows 10 OpenSSH client:

Step 1: Check via ‘Settings’ > ‘Apps’ > ‘Apps & Features’ > ‘Optional Features’ whether the OpenSSH client is already installed. If not, go to ‘Add Feature’, enter ‘OpenSSH Client’ and click ‘Install’.

By default, the Windows 10 SSH client should already be present under ‘Optional Features’.

Step 2: Once the client is installed, open the command prompt as an administrator by typing ‘cmd.exe’ in the Windows search and then selecting ‘run as administrator’. Step 3: To open the native SSH tool in Windows 10, enter the following CMD command:

ssh
CMD

You’ll see the SSH User Guide with the command syntax and all the current possible parameters offered by the SSH client.

Use the ‘ssh’ command to call up all the important SSH parameters in the ‘Run’ dialogue.

Step 4: If you want to access Raspberry Pi, for example, follow similar steps to macOS and Linux. Connect to the remote server on the required Raspberry device with the following command:

ssh pi@raspberrypi
CMD

In the address, ‘Pi’ stands for the username on the remote server and ‘raspberrypi’ for the remote server. If it should be an IP address in the network or also an external remote server, use this command syntax:

ssh name@mywebsite.mydomainname.co.uk
CMD

Step 5: By default, the SSH client uses port 22. If the addressed server uses a different port, for example, port 7200, establish the connection by specifying the port as follows:

ssh pi@raspberrypi -p 7200
CMD

Step 6: If connecting to the server for the first time, confirm the host key fingerprint by entering ‘Yes’. If you have set up a remote server yourself, you do not need to worry about this because the remote server belongs to you. Enter the user password to control the remote computer via SSH and terminal commands.

How do you set up a Windows 10 SSH server?

If you want to set up an SSH server in addition to accessing your computer remotely, follow these steps. You’ll need to install an OpenSSH server. This is usually not pre-installed under Windows but can be quickly added.

Tip

Both Linux and Windows are suitable for setting up and operating a private web server. Our comparison ‘Linux vs. Windows Servers’ reveals the advantages of each solution.

Here’s how to do it:

Step 1: Follow the ‘Settings’ > ‘Apps’ > ‘Apps & Features’ > ‘Optional Features’ path.

Step 2: Go to ‘Add Features’ and click ‘OpenSSH Server’ in the list and click ‘Install’. This step can be performed only with administrator privileges.

An OpenSSH server can be retrofitted in the optional Windows features.

Step 3: For the SSH server, Windows installs the OpenSSH Authentication Agent (if not already installed) and OpenSSH Server services. If you want to use SSH regularly, change the start-up type of the services to ‘Automatic’. To do this, enter ‘Services’ in the Windows search and launch the Services app. Right-click on the corresponding services and go to ‘Properties’. Now change the start-up type to ‘Automatic’.

Step 4: Check whether the SSH firewall rules have been activated. To do this, enter the following command in the ‘Run’ dialogue and check the firewall rules:

Get-NetFirewallRule -Name *SSH*
CMD

Step 5: To connect to the Windows 10 SSH server, enter the following command:

ssh <server-name>
CMD

If you encounter issues with your connection, you can follow our tips for fixing SSH errors.

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