Networking

Review: PuTTY terminal application

PuTTY is a free, open source terminal application providing services like serial terminal communications, telnet, SSH, rlogin, as well as secure file transfers via SFTP and SCP.

PuTTY is a free, open source terminal application that is highly configurable. In addition to the basic chores of serial terminal communications, telnet, SSH, rlogin, and so on, it is also able to perform secure file transfers via SFTP and SCP. It is also able to act as an SSH tunnel for X11 traffic.

Specifications

  • Supported Operating Systems: Windows 95, 98, ME, NT, 2000, XP, Vista, 2003, 2008, *Nix, Mac OSX (as an xterm application)
  • Supported Protocols: Serial communications, Telnet, SSH, rlogin, SCP, SFTP, xterm
  • Additional information

Who's it for?

System administrators, developers, network engineers, and other IT pros that need to connect to remote systems will find PuTTY useful.

What problems does it solve?

PuTTY fills the gap that was left when Microsoft Windows stopped shipping with HyperTerminal. In addition, its extreme configurability, combined with the ability to save connections, makes it a far more usable option than what Windows ships with (currently, a plain command line telnet client which is not installed by default). *Nix users will appreciate that it puts a lot of functionality into a single package.

Standout features

  • Cost: As a free, open source application, PuTTY is a no-brainer compared to most commercial terminal applications.
  • Choices: Between the wide variety of protocols that it supports and the options for connections, PuTTY fills many needs, particularly less common tasks like using SCP and SFTP.
  • Reliability: PuTTY is an extremely reliable application.
  • Cross Platform Support: PuTTY is available on Windows and *Nix platforms, and it can run on Mac OSX as an xterm application.

What's wrong?

  • Dense configuration: The variety of configuration options feels a bit overwhelming when you first see them.
  • Not a "version 1": Despite the maturity of PuTTY, it (like many open source projects) is not billing itself as "Version 1" (currently it is a "beta" of version 0.60, which has been the current version since 2007).
  • No Scripting: Users who need to script their sessions will be disappointed with PuTTY.

Competitive products

Bottom line for business

Most system administrators and network engineers, and many developers, have a need to connect to remote systems on a regular basis. Unfortunately, Windows does not ship with the tools to do this, leaving these IT professionals on their own. PuTTY neatly fills this gap.

Primarily users find PuTTY is useful for connecting to routers and switches (via telnet, SSH, and serial connections), and *Nix servers and mainframes, which are quite useful via text-only terminal sessions. For people working with X11 over the public Internet, PuTTY can tunnel their sessions via SSH, protecting sensitive data in transit.

Users with more demanding needs, such as writing macros or support for additional protocols, will want to look elsewhere. PuTTY can make every common type of connection and its feature set is strong enough to meet the needs of most IT professionals, and for the price it can't be beat.

User rating

Have you encountered PuTTY? If so, what do you think? Rate the unit and compare the results to what other TechRepublic members think. Give your own personal review of the PuTTY in the TechRepublic Community Forums or let us know if you think we left anything out in our review above.

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About

Justin James is the Lead Architect for Conigent.

13 comments
jkiernan
jkiernan

It's weird to see a spotlight on a product I've been using for ten years.

sskisuze
sskisuze

PuTTY's usefulness extends beyond the domain of system administrators and network engineers, and many developers. It can be setup to connect remote application's clients through a tunnel over slow public media such as internet. The result ofcourse being enhancement in speed and security. I for one know of an implementation seriously using this setup over mobile/gprs internet. They have a Microsoft Access client application communicating with a remote MySQL database with amazing results. Secondly I am not sure about the session scripting referred to in the article. But currently I have setup two putty sessions running on my Windows PC where, once I log onto Windows the putty session happens automatically. I use a batch file that runs at start up, inside that batch file are PuTTY command line instructions to start a saved session(from the GUI side of PuTTY). In the saved session I used keys that I placed on the remote server and the XP machine. This automatically sets up a tunnel through which I am able to access a MySQL database containing various data(Human resource, Attendance records, IT helpdesk, IT inventory, Accesories Issues, etc).

gavsta
gavsta

Putty Connection Manager makes putty invaluable as cisco device administration console. Tabs and its database for storing connections makes managing multiple devices in one hit easy life! http://puttycm.free.fr/

career
career

I've been using XShell and XFTP for the last two years and have been extremely happy. All the features of SecureCRT for half the price, and free for home users :)

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

It offers tabbed functionality which is handy when you have more than one or two Cisco equipment connections up. I realize there are several putty add-ons that enabled tabbed sessions, but I never found one I was fond of. I've been using Ponderosa almost exclusively lately. I do not like the way most of the standard ctrl shortcut keys are changed to alt, but the ease of new tab creation has me sold. I use it strictly for Cisco CLI, so I'm not as demanding as a unix operator in regards to terminal apps.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

What is your application of choice for terminal services?

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

Have you tried ponderosa? I seem to like it better. Granted, I use many tools from solarwinds and other companies so I don't use cli as much as i once did.

aroc
aroc

I usually start up a single PuTty ssh session to a RHEL "staging" server our group uses, and then tunnel to a VNC session through that to access about a dozen different Solaris servers with xterm/ssh that I work on every day. I have also found the Xwin/ssh packages in Cygwin similarly useful.

Super_Geek
Super_Geek

Although I like the use and simplicity of the PuTTy application, I do have some other favorites. Ponderosa probably resembles PuTTy the most, but has some cool upgrades. I also use Crypto Term and my personal favorite is TeraTerm at the moment. TeraTerm looks great and supports many protocols. I find it more user friendly than even some of the "paid for" emulators I have utilized in the past like TinyTerm and SecureCRT. It is open source and runs on 64bit Vista with no problems as of yet, unlike some of the paid for products which had to be upgraded because they would even fail during installation on our newer Vista machines...

john.light
john.light

I don't think that is correct. I used Putty several years ago with scripts to automate some data update process. I think it was using PLINK.EXE which is in the putty package.

DHCDBD
DHCDBD

So simple to use that you often have to use a wrapper such as WinSPC or a proprietary program such as SecureCRT. In Linux, I use telnet. In Widows, depending, I use one of the two above, or both together.

Justin James
Justin James

You are correct that with PLINK you can send commands to the session. But in terms of it having real scripting support, it really is not there. PLINK can't stand on its own, except to send commands. J.Ja

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