The best free PuTTY alternatives for Windows

PuTTY is a popular open-source application that’s used as a terminal emulator and this list will show you some of my favorite (and in my opinion the best) PuTTY alternatives for Windows. I’m only listing free PuTTY alternatives or ones that have a free version available on this list. I have used all of these at some point and some of them I use daily.

If you use Windows for your main operating system and need to manage your servers remotely then this list should help you choose a great free alternative if you don’t like the original PuTTY software or need extra features like tabs for instance. With all of that having been said, lets get on to the list shall we?

Xshell

The first PuTTY alternative on this list is Xshell by NetSarang and right now it’s my absolute favorite for managing my VPSes and dedicated servers. There’s also Xftp which you can download so you can transfer files using sftp. If you’re a home user or using it for school then you can grab a free version of Xshell at NetSarang’s website. The free version is limited to 4 tabs at a time, but 4 should be enough for home use and if it’s not, the 5th+ tab just opens in another Xshell window so it’s not to big of a deal.

Xshell’s Features

  • Tabbed Environment
  • Session Manager
  • Synchronized Input
  • Highlight Sets
  • Dual Font Integrations
  • Quick Commands
  • X11 Forwarding
  • Script Support
  • SSH PKCS#11 Support
  • Master Password and Terminal Lock
  • and much more
Xshell is a free putty alternative for Windows
Here’s the free version of Xshell in use on my home Windows computer. I have 4 tabs opened to 4 different servers that I’m managing (including the server that runs this website!).

MobaXterm

The next PuTTY alternative on this list is MobaXterm and it’s what I used to use to manage my remote servers before I found out about Xshell. MobaXterm is packed full of features and comes with built-in automatic sftp support which is nice. Session management is super easy and the free version allows you to have up to 12 sessions. It also has plugin support. They have a free version and a paid version available and the paid version is actually a decent price at $69 for a lifetime license. I highly recommend MobaXterm if for some reason you don’t like Xshell.

MobaXterm’s Features

  • SSH and X Server Support
  • Remote Desktop (RDP, VNC, Xdmcp) and Remote Terminal (SSH, telnet, rlogin, Mosh)
  • Tabbed Terminals
  • Session Management
  • Automatic Graphical SFTP Browser included
  • X11 Forwarding
  • Plugin Support
  • Has both Installer and Portable version available
  • and much more
MobaXterm free putty alternative for Windows
The portable version of MobaXterm in action

Bitvise SSH Client

Bitvise SSH Client is another great free alternative to PuTTY for Windows users. It comes packed full of features and it’s completely free with no limitations! It allows you to setup individual profiles for each of your servers, has built-in ssh key management, an advanced graphical sftp client, and is just an all around great Windows ssh client.

Bitvise SSH Client’s Features

  • Session/Profile Management
  • Excellent user keypair management
  • Advanced graphical SFTP client
  • Obfuscated SSH
  • Advanced scriptable command-line SFTP client and tunneling client
  • Remote Desktop Forwarding with a single click
  • Support for single sign-on using SSPI (GSSAPI) Kerberos 5 and NTLM user auth plus Kerberos 5 host auth
  • and a lot more
Bitvise SSH client is an excellent free putty alternative for Windows
Bitvise SSH Client adding a new profile

mRemoteNG

mRemoteNG is a multi-protocol remote connections manager that is forked from mRemote. It works great as a free open source PuTTY alternative and has a simple and easy to use tabbed interface that’s powerful at the same time. I prefer the other entries on this list over mRemoteNG but others swear by it so if you’re looking for a basic PuTTY replacement (or if you love the old mRemote) then you might want to give it a go!

mRemoteNG’s Features

  • Powerful Tabbed Interface
  • Supports many protocols such as SSH, RDP, VNC, ICA, Telnet, HTTP/HTTPS, rlogin, and Raw Socket Connections
  • Free and Open Source
  • Offers a Installer and Portable version
  • Adds bug fixes and new features to the old mRemote
mRemoteNG is a free open source ssh client for Windows and is a great PuTTY alternative
mRemoteNG is a free open source alternative for Putty on Windows

Even more PuTTY alternatives!

Looking for more PuTTY alternatives? Here’s a list of even more PuTTY alternatives for Windows that didn’t make it into my list of what I consider the best ones but these are still notable and you may end up really liking them.

Built-in OpenSSH client on Windows 10

You can also use the built-in ssh client on Windows 10! Here’s a great guide to get started with using OpenSSH on Windows 10.

Image Credit: The featured image used for this post was created by using a photograph taken by Adian Spiegelt on Unsplash.

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