SSH/Shell Access

SSH (secure shell) and Telnet are examples of network protocols that make remote server management possible by allowing you to control another computer (ie, your web server) over the Internet through a command line interface (CLI). This can be used, for instance, when configuring CGI scripts. SSH is included with many modern operating systems including Mac® OS X and Linux distributions.

If you are using Microsoft Windows to connect to your server, you will need an SSH client to log into the server. One can be obtained at

For Unix-based operating systems, such as Mac OS or Linux, many commands have been standardized. For a list of standardized Unix-based (POSIX) commands, consult your favorite search engine or visit

ALERT! Note: Not all web hosts allow shell access.


  • Connecting With PuTTy
  • Connecting With Mac OS X or Linux
  • Manage SSH Keys
    • Generate a New Key
    • Import an Existing Key
    • Delete a Key
    • View, Edit, or Download a Key
    • Manage a Key's Authorization
  • Connect Using SSHTerm
  • Connect Using Java Telnet Applet

Connecting With PuTTy

To use PuTTy to connect to your server via SSH:


  1. Download and install the client from the URL above.
  2. Open the client.
  3. Under the Sessions menu, input the IP address of the server.
    • Make sure that the SSH button is selected.
  4. Click Open.
  5. Use root as the login name.
  6. Enter the root password.

If the username and password were correctly entered, you should be logged into the server.

Connecting With Mac OS X or Linux

To connect via SSH to your server:

  1. Open a terminal session.
  2. Issue the following command:
    • ssh -p $port $user@$IP
      • Where $port is meant to stand for the port number.
      • $user is meant to stand for your username.
      • $IP is meant to stand for your IP address.

Manage SSH Keys

Using cPanel, it is possible to create, import, manage, and remove SSH keys. These keys will be used when confirming a specific computer has the right to access your website’s information using SSH.

Generate a New Key

To generate a new key:

  1. Click Manage SSH Keys.
  2. Click the Generate a new Key icon.
  3. Fill in the appropriate information.
    • note Note: You should consider your needs when choosing a key type, bearing in mind that RSA keys yield a faster confirmation of identity, while using DSA keys will speed up key generation and signing times.
  4. Click Generate Key to generate the new SSH key and automatically install it to the server.


Import an Existing Key

To import an existing key:

  1. Click the Import Key icon.
  2. Choose a name for the key.
  3. Paste the private and public keys into the 2 text boxes.
  4. Click Import.


Delete a Key

To delete a key:

  1. Click Delete next to the corresponding key in the appropriate table. You will be directed to a new page.
  2. Click Delete Key to confirm deletion.


View, Edit, or Download a Key

To view, edit, or download a key:

  1. Click View/Download next to the corresponding key in the appropriate table. You will be directed to a new page.
  2. Edit the key in the text box or click Download Key to download the key.

note Note: When you click View/Download in the Private Keys table, you also have the option to convert the key into .ppk format.

To convert a private key and save it onto the server:

  1. Enter the key's passphrase into the box.
  2. Click Convert. You will be directed to a new page.
    • note Note: At this point, the .ppk key file is saved on the server as ~/.ssh/putty/$file.ppk (where $file is the name of the original SSH key).
  3. Click Download Key to download the converted key to your desktop.


Manage a Key's Authorization

To authorize or deauthorize a key:

  1. Click Manage Authorization next to the corresponding key in the appropriate table. You will be directed to a new page.
  2. Click Authorize or Deauthorize.

PICK Important: You may only authorize or deauthorize public keys on your web server. As long as the public key is deauthorized, a user will not be able to log in using the corresponding private key.


Connect Using SSHTerm

cPanel comes equipped with an application called SSHTerm, which lets you connect to your website using SSH through cPanel.

SSHTerm is a Java application that opens a command line interface (CLI) in an application window within the browser.

To connect via SSHTerm using a username and password:

  1. Click Connect using SSHTerm.
  2. If cPanel prompts you to accept a certificate, do so. The application will load after a few moments.
  3. Within the SSHTerm window, select File > New Connection.
  4. Enter the web server’s IP address.
  5. Click Advanced.
  6. Enter the username in the Username field.
  7. Select password under the Authentication Methods heading.
    • note Note: You can also select publickey to authenticate using a public key.
  8. Click Connect.
  9. Enter the username and password.
  10. Click Ok.


Connect Using Java Telnet Applet

cPanel contains a Java application called Java Telnet Applet, which lets you connect to your website using a Telnet connection through cPanel.

To connect via Java Telnet Applet:

  1. Click Connect using Java Telnet Applet.
  2. A pop-up window containing the Applet will open. Another pop-up, requesting login information, will also open. Enter your username and password.
  3. Click Login.
  • note Note: You cannot use keys as an authentication method. You must use a username and password.

note Note: There are a number of specific Telnet commands with which you may need to familiarize yourself. Please consult your favorite search engine for more information regarding Telnet and your operating system’s commands. We also recommend that you use SSH in place of Telnet when possible, since an SSH connection is inherently more secure.

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