PuTTY is a free terminal emulation tool that’s been available for 20 years. Originally released for Microsoft Windows, this versatile remote administration tool can be used to access workstations, servers, network devices etc using various protocols such as secure shell connection (SSH), Telnet, Rlogin etc.
While it continues to be popular for accessing network devices and Linux servers mainly with SSH, PuTTY does have its limitations because it’s designed to handle one session at a time.
Many other SSH clients and terminal emulators are available today that have been developed to improve on PuTTY.
In this guide, we’ll cover the 10 best alternatives to PuTTY available online and how they set themselves apart from this venerable app.
Bitvise’s SSH Client is a free Windows tool that complements the Bitvise SSH Server, but it also functions as a standalone application.
The Bitvise SSH Server is free for up to 30 days. The SSH client works on Windows OS and is free for ever.
It’s a modern terminal emulator that provides a GUI as well as command-line interface to support SFTP, SSH, SCP and tunnelling connections.
It also implements sophisticated tunnelling features. If you’re looking for features like dynamic port forwarding and support for proxy servers, Bitvise SSH Client includes them along with the security of encryption technology.
Bitvise also build common tasks like Remote Desktop forwarding into the GUI to streamline the connection process.
Xshell is a tool developed by Netsarang as part of their suite of PC X apps designed to streamline the interface between UNIX, Linux, and Windows computers.
Xshell is the SSH client portion of that suite, and it’s designed with complex management tasks in mind.
A session manager helps you handle multiple connections, and Xshell’s tabbed GUI interface makes it easy to switch between them.
Xshell’s draft & send interface makes writing complex scripts more convenient, too. If security is important, Xshell supports state-of-the-art encryption schemes like GSSAPI and PKCS#11.
This is a commercial SSH client tool and a single-user license costs $99.
If you think PuTTY is a great emulator that’s lacking modern automation features, KiTTY may be an alternative to consider.
KiTTY is a fork of PuTTY that adds features to make it more efficient for handling multiple sessions and logging into accounts with saved credentials.
It helps with managing multiple sessions by adding a filter interface that saves them in folders.
A session launcher is added that can launch one or more sessions using the details you’ve saved.
KiTTY also saves time with automated commands, providing an interface for saving common commands with a User Command menu.
Solar-PuTTY is Solarwinds’s answer to the need for an SSH client that automates today’s complex network admin tasks.
It’s one of their free tools that adds a better interface and productivity features compared to PuTTY.
A tabbed interface makes multiple sessions more practical, and logging into accounts is automated with saved credentials.
Solar-PuTTY makes finding a particular session from dozens of session profiles simpler by integrating with Windows Search.
Finally, if you reuse the same command scripts, Solar-PuTTY can save and invoke them for you.
MobaTek is another company that has developed a free tool to replace PuTTY with modern interface and management features.
The free edition supports up to 12 sessions and two SSH tunnels at a time. It has a tabbed interface that makes multiple sessions easier to manage like other modern terminal emulators.
MobaXterm supports X server, remote desktop protocols like RDP and Xdmcp, and popular remote terminal protocols like SSH, telnet, and Mosh. If you need to handle more sessions or want to store over four macros at a time, you can opt for the professional edition.
What I like also in this tool is that it contains all utilities in a single portable executable file which does not require installation. You will have all tools such as SSH client, RDP client, VNC, FTP/SFTP client etc all in one unified environment.
PuTTY isn’t the only terminal emulator out there in the wild: mRemoteNG is a modern fork of another older SSH client called mRemote.
mRemoteNG, which stands for Multi-Remote Next Generation, makes multiple remote sessions manageable with a tabbed interface.
It’s also flexible, supporting most types of remote sessions you might need like RDP, VNC, SSH, HTTPS, telnet, and more. It’s also an open source project that anyone can fork and contribute new features.
SmarTTY is another free SSH client offered by SysProgs that includes better session management features than PuTTY.
SmarTTY supports many of the multi-session features you can find with other clients like a tabbed interface and support for the most common session protocols.
This client excels at adding advanced features like auto-completion and package management to its interface. This focus makes it a good option for developers and administrators who need to compose and send complex scripts over remote connections.
SuperPuTTY is a window manager developed by Jim Radford to make it possible to embed PuTTY terminals into Windows forms and applications.
As such, it’s not an SSH client but a tool for quickly and effectively create multiple tabbed windows and use an already installed PuTTY terminal emulator. You must have PuTTY present on the system before using SuperPuTTY.
With SuperPuTTY, you can quickly develop an in-house multi-tabbed PuTTY-based client. You can also build an interface for local terminal sessions using MinTTY.
The package includes pre-built file, view, tools, and help menus ready to be included in a multi-session PuTTY Windows app.
ExtraPuTTY is another fork of PuTTY that adds more advanced features to support multiple sessions and automated scripting.
ExtraPuTTY adds menu bar and status bar to the classic PuTTY window to create a more functional graphical interface, and it provides keyboard shortcuts to common commands.
If you need to create command scripts, this app allows you to define macros that string commands together.
ExtraPuTTY also supports automatic logon scripts with saved credentials. The PuTTY Session Manager is helpful if you need to juggle dozens of different sessions as a network administrator.
With this tool you can integrate and use the most common remote administration protocols such as SSH, FTP, SFTP SCP etc.
If you’re looking for a terminal emulator that supports both Windows and MacOS, Emtec has a client that provides modern terminal session features for both platforms.
It’s a terminal emulator that can handle SSH, telnet, and serial cable connections to network devices and mainframes. With a host of supported protocols, Emtec bills ZOC as the Swiss Army Knife of terminal clients for good reason.
Tabby runs on Windows, MAC and Linux and is a client for Telnet, SSH and Serial connections. It can even work as SFTP client.
It is relatively a new utility which however is based on Terminus and boasts a great deal of customization features.
You can have Split panes, support for PowerShell (and PS Core), WSL, Git-Bash, Cygwin, MSYS2, Cmder and CMD, an Integrated encrypted container for SSH secrets and configuration and much more.
This app can be a great alternative of Putty for both SSH and Telnet client connections.
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