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Review: VanDyke Software's SecureCRT for Mac

Windows administrator Derek Schauland recently acquired his first Mac. Here, he reviews SecureCRT for Mac for managing SSH connections.

A top-end Windows SSH/Telnet client makes its debut on the Mac. SecureCRT is a great tool for those who use command line devices frequently.

Specifications

Supported operating system: Mac OS X 10.6, Mac OS X 10.5 (Intel)

There is a 30-Day evaluation license available.

(Screenshot courtesy of vandyke.com)

Who's it for?

SecureCRT for Mac allows IT pros to manage command line devices and SSH hosts with a very user-friendly client. With all of the devices in use today a client providing straight forward management is a great tool to keep close by.

What problem does it solve?

Connecting to devices securely is one thing, and there are other products that can achieve this goal, but with SecureCRT, multiple connections can be managed in tabs to allow you to work between sessions without changing windows.

Standout features

  • Simple interface: The interface of SecureCRT has what is needed to connect to (and save connections to) most devices, but it doesn't have a whole lot of extra GUI and fancy features to get in the way.
  • Tabbed Connections: Tabs within the application for each connected session are amazing. Coming from Windows, I have found this to be quite useful over other applications that require multiple windows to be open for additional sessions.
  • Connection Saving: Many Telnet/SSH clients save connection details so it seems this feature is commonplace, but I have found this feature very useful and cleanly implemented in SecureCRT.
  • Automate repetitive tasks in SecureCRT by running scripts using VBScript, JScript, PerlScript, or Python. The Windows Script Recorder builds your keystrokes into a VBScript.

What's wrong?

There is not much that I do not like about this application. The license cost per user is a bit high (starts at $99 for single license; see pricing), but it's not unreachable for the value that the software brings in its feature set. Perhaps licensing it per user and not per machine for users of PCs, who also have the product on a Mac, would be a good way to go, but for users who use the application a lot to manage connections, it's not too bad.

Another feature I like, but I'm not sure of just yet, is the complete terminal replacement. If I install SecureCRT on the Mac, because it can perform many of the functions (and then some) of the included Terminal program, the ability to configure it to fully replace Terminal would be great. For now I have added dock links for CRT rather than Terminal and do not find this to be a deal breaker. Maybe the constant default browser checks on any computer have me a bit spoiled.

Competitive products

There are several competitive products in the SSH client space for the Mac:

Bottom line for business

Even though a Mac can start SSH sessions right from Terminal, there are features that just stand out about SecureCRT for me. The biggest is multiple SSH sessions spread out across tabs. The tabbed session management is a great feature for IT pros who work with SSH connections frequently, which seems to be more common as we are asked to do more with less.

User rating:

Have you tried SecureCRT for the Mac yet? If so, what do you think? Share your thoughts on SecureCRT in Comments.

About

Derek Schauland has been tinkering with Windows systems since 1997. He has supported Windows NT 4, worked phone support for an ISP, and is currently the IT Manager for a manufacturing company in Wisconsin.

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