PuTTY is an open-source network file transfer tool and terminal emulator that supports various network protocols, such as Telnet, rlogin, SSH, SCP, as well as raw socket connection.
Originally developed for Microsoft Windows in 1999, the tool has been upgraded to work on other operating systems, including Linux and Mac.
Interestingly, the name “PuTTY” doesn’t signify anything. lt is just a tool for connecting client and server devices.
But since it is reliable, easy to configure, and offers several advantages over other similar applications, PuTTY is the default choice of many server admins and network engineers for configuring SSH-enabled machines.
On the other hand, the performance and stability of the new networking tools have improved a lot in the past few years. During our testing, we came across several free terminal emulators that are significantly better than PuTTY.
Below, we have mentioned some of the best PuTTY alternatives for Windows that offer relatively more functionality and better security.
Initial Release: 1996
Developed by Celestial Software
Price: Professional Edition costs $49.95 (one-time fee) | 30-day free trial available
AbsoluteTelnet implements a range of protocols, including SSH 1 and 2, Telnet, TAPI Dialup, and direct COM port connections.
Besides rock-solid emulators and support for a SOCKS proxy, it also includes advanced firewall configuration options.
- Tabbed interface to two or more connections
- Multiple terminal types, such as VT100, VT220, ANSI, WYSE60, and XTERM
- Supports VBScript and Unicode 5.0
- Intuitive scrollback copy and paste
The latest version is packed with new decryption algorithms for encrypted keys like DES-CBC and AES256-ctr. It is also designed to support the new putty PPK key format.
Overall, the application is robust, easy to use, and doesn’t conflict with other desktop programs. It is suitable for all administrators and developers, as well as for deployment across large companies.
Developed by Sysprogs Software Inc.
With SmarTTY, you can copy files and directories and edit files on-the-fly. It’s kind of an advanced version of PuTTY with built-in FTP transfer and X11 forwarding functionality.
Each SSH sub-session can be opened in individual tabs — there is no need to open multiple windows or log in every time you connect to the server. Just open a tab and start downloading/uploading files with the SCP protocol.
- Browse the remote directory with Windows-style UI
- Automatic completion of recent commands, files, and folders
- Configure remote host with one click
- Display data in HEX, ASCII, or both
Since SmarTTY is integrated with XMing and VcXsrv X servers, it can seamlessly run any graphical application in the terminal. The application opens in a new window as soon as you launch it. You don’t have to tweak settings manually.
Price: $99 per year | $59 renewal fee | 30-day free trial available
Developed by NetSarang Computer
XShell is a popular networking tool built to emulate a virtual terminal. It is widely used in offices and workplaces where information in a mainframe needs to be accessed.
It allows you to quickly create and edit sessions, customize views with drag and drop, and efficiently manage all tabs. Assign custom keys to frequently used commands, define keywords to be highlighted in the terminal, configure mouse behavior and logging options, and much more.
Like all advanced terminal emulators, XShell supports Telnet, rlogin, SFTP, SSH 1 and 2, and SERIAL protocols. It also supports OpenSSH and ssh.com servers.
Other useful functions like dynamic port forwarding and protocol tracing make it easier for you to perform complex tasks without errors.
- Customizable user interface
- Create and manage SSH tunnels on the fly
- Automate tasks with VB, Python, or Java scripts
- Separate tabs into windows or split windows horizontally/vertically
As far as security is concerned, XShell is packed with dozens of security features. For example, strong public key authentication, advanced traffic encryption, and modern password protection methods keep your data private and secure.
Initial Release: 1999
Developed by OmniCom Technologies
Platform: Windows | Mac
Price: $3 per month | $25 for one year
AlphaCom is a multisession terminal emulation tool designed to support Telnet, SSH, direct RS-232, and modern connections with ANSI, Wyse 50/60, VT52/100/220, and IBM3151 emulation.
The tool doesn’t have any complicated setup procedures. It merely takes a minute to install and is relatively easy to use. Everything is arranged in an intuitive graphical interface and a simple layout.
- Automated user login
- Dynamic font sizing
- Web browser integration
- Supports LPD and pass-through printing
Unlike other applications, you can use AlphaCom within your browser and create instances. Each instance will connect you to a specific host. Open as many sessions as you want and switch between seamlessly through mouse or keyboard shortcuts.
AlphaCom is also integrated with an ActiveX developer toolkit and various networking troubleshooting tools. Moreover, you can easily configure settings for IT-controlled deployment and limit the number of sessions at any given time.
Initial Release: 1995
Developed by VanDyke Software
Platform: Windows | Mac | Linux | Unix
Price: $99 for one year of updates | 30-day free trial available
SecureCRT is a robust terminal emulator designed to offer advanced and more secure remote access. It increases your productivity by streamlining repetitive tasks and offering an efficient way to manage multiple sessions.
For example, the multisession launch button, tiled and cloned sessions, and command manager make it easy to complete tasks in less time. It even allows you to automate repetitive and tedious tasks by running Python, Java, or Perl scripts.
- Advanced scripting and extensive session management
- Flexible authentication options
- Scroll back up to 128,000 lines
- Supports variable compression levels from 1 to 9
Organize, manage, and configure sessions with complete control over key mappings, scrollback, fonts, colors, and more — whether you are working on ten or hundreds of active sessions.
Since SecureCRT is a cross-platform emulator, you can use it to securely access business apps on Windows, Mac, Linux, and Unix. It supports emulation for ANSI, Xterm, Wyse 50/60, TN3270, VT100/102/220, and Linux console.
Initial Release: 2001
Developed by Bitvise Limited
Price: $99.95 for one year of updates | 30-day free trial available
Bitvise Limited offers two applications: Bitvise SSH server and SSH client. Both provide a secure channel over a network in a client-server architecture.
If you want to set up a machine to receive connections from other users and their devices, you need to install the Bitvise SSH server app. If you want to initiate connections and transfer data, install the Bitvise SSH client app.
- Open unlimited connections simultaneously
- Two-factor authentication
- SFTP v6 optimizations
- Git integration
- Keeps a record of daily, monthly, and annual usage statistics
The SSH server app is perfect for the remote administration of Windows servers as well as for transferring files via SCP and SFTP protocol. It can also be used to perform a wide range of tasks, from accessing home devices (remotely) to securing other software programs through TCP/IP tunneling.
The client app, on the other hand, features powerful terminal emulation, a command-line and intuitive graphical user interface, an FTP-to-SFTP bridge, and advanced tunneling functions such as dynamic port forwarding via integrated proxy.
While the SSH client app is free to deploy in any environment, the server app costs $99.95 a year.
Initial Release: 2011
Developed by Jim Radford / Open-source
SuperPuTTY is simply an advanced version of PuTTY that supports tab management, RDP sessions, and a scripting language to perform conventional tasks. It runs on every Windows platform supporting the .NET Framework 3.5 or newer.
The application is not designed to perform any SSH or terminal management tasks (because PuTTY itself does that job very well).
- Better tabbed interface
- Session configuration
- Define hotkeys to run predefined tasks
- Supports local shell via puttycyg or MinTTY
One of the coolest features of this application is its tab management. Users can quickly switch the sides of the tab to the left, right, top or bottom, split the toolbar tab, and move open connections anywhere on the screen. This makes it easy to compare multiple screens without having to shift tabs.
Besides the much-needed window management, Superputty also supports pscp.exe to securely transfer and receive data from a remote host. One can use MinTTY, PowerShell, or other terminal software to start local terminal sessions.
Initial Release: 2018
Developed by SolarWinds
Solar-PuTTY is a serial console, terminal emulator, and network file transfer tool developed to support many network protocols, including Telnet, SSH, SCP, and SFTP.
Its graphical user interface makes it easy for you to work with multi-session tabs, quickly access the most used sessions, and assign different colors to different tabs. The color-coded tabs could actually be useful if you have too many tabs open. — it helps you recognize different environments like intranet, production servers, and test labs.
- Tabbed interface to manage multiple sessions
- Saves credentials for auto login
- Supports post-connections scripts
- Automatic reconnecting in case of a drop
The app is quite user-friendly. It shows you a sample connection on the main window, which can be used as a template to create sessions. With one click, you can go to the “settings” page and configure parameters related to credentials, scripts, logs, and tags.
Unlike most other software, you don’t have to install it on your machine. Just uncompress the archive file, launch the executable, and give it access to your hard drive to perform the necessary functions. Or, you can run it directly from the external hard drive without having to worry about your Windows registries and data stored in the internal drive.
Overall, Solar-PuTTY is a portable, user-friendly tool that gets the job done just fine.
Initial Release: 2000
Developed by Martin Přikryl
WinSCP provides you with an intuitive GUI to securely copy files between a local and remote device through various protocols, including FTP, SFTP, FTPS, SCP, Amazon S3, or WebDAV.
Beyond this, the application offers basic file synchronization and file management functionality. Developers and power users can automate tedious tasks using .NET assembly.
- Norton Commander-like or Windows Explorer-like interfaces
- Scripting and task automation
- Binary and text transfer modes
- Integrates with PuTTY and other Windows apps
While there are plenty of networking apps with better user interfaces and built-in IDEs, WinSCP stands out in terms of reliability. It allows you to do bulk upload and effortlessly edit and delete files without being interrupted by a poor internet connection.
We have tested more than 25 tools like PuTTY, but never found anything as stable/failproof as WinSCP.
Other Equally Good PuTTY alternatives
Platform: Windows | Mac | Linux | Unix
Written in Java, Terminator is an open-source terminal emulator available for all modern operating systems with Java 6 or later. It’s a great alternative to Windows’ PuTTY, Apple’s Terminal, KDE’s Konsole, and GNOME Terminal.
- Automatically generates logs for terminal sessions
- Unlimited scrollback and smart vertical scrolling
- Properly handles tab characters (doesn’t convert tab characters into strings of spaces)
The application has a simple, easy-to-use interface. You can open sessions in different tabs; each tab displays a horizontal scroll bar when necessary, offering better readability of program output.
Drag and drop files from Finder/Explorer to Terminator, search for text or regular expressions within the terminal, start a new terminal window in the directory you clicked on in Finder/Explorer, and perform many more tasks with ease.
Developed by: EmTec Innovative Software
Price: $79.99 | $29.99 to upgrade from older version | 30-day free trial available
ZOC is a terminal emulator and Telnet client for Windows and Mac. It connects you to hosts and mainframes via telnet, SSH, ISDN, Rlogin, TAPI, ISDN, modem, serial cable, and other means of communication.
One can use this application to connect Linux/Unix hosts and shell accounts, IBM mainframes, mini-computers, and internet devices attached to the serial port of the desktop machine.
- Tabbed sessions with thumbnails
- Full keyboard remapping and scrollback
- Configurable display
- Scripting language with 200+ commands
In addition to conventional terminal features like scrollback buffer and keyboard redefinition, ZOC also comes with advanced and more unique features, such as the automatic triggering of actions when certain conditions are met.
For scripting, developers can use the REXX language (a fully featured programming language with 70+ extensions to control the terminal emulator). It also supports AppleScript, giving users access to all internal script commands on Mac.
Developed by: Hilgraeve
Price: $169.99 | Extended maintenance/support costs $20 | 15-day trial available
HyperAccess is a terminal emulation application and SSH/Telnet client for Windows. It has an advanced scripting API that allows you to automate many common tasks.
You can write scripts in different programming languages or have Hilgraeve developers create custom scripts for you. (They will charge you $99.99 per hour for professional scripting services).
- New options for host-controlled printing
- Supports Windows NT roaming profiles
- Automate communications with Visual Basic, C#, C++, or other languages
HyperACCESS is built for organizations that rely on desktop computers for terminal communication with host computers, mini-computers, or mainframes. The application is regularly updated, supported, and sold by professional developers.
KiTTY, also known as a fork of PuTTY, is designed to rectify the shortcomings of famous SSH and Telnet client for Windows and Unix. It is packed with dozens of useful features that are missing from PuTTY, such as shortcuts for pre-defined commands, running locally saved scripts on a remote session, and instantly starting a duplicate session.
- Sessions filter
- Automatic log-on script
- pscp.exe and WinSCP integration
- Clipboard printing
- Binary compression
KiTTY is equally reliable (compared to PuTTY). It has the same design, a flat learning curve, and brings plenty of new features. The only downside is it is not available for Unix platforms.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is PuTTY still popular?
Initially released in 1999, PuTTY is still used for accessing an account on a Unix or other multi-user system from a personal computer. It’s a free and open-source terminal emulator tool that handles almost everything you throw at it.
Besides just connecting you to the host server, PuTTY provides you control over the SSH protocol and alternate ciphers like Blowfish, AES, DES, and Public key authentication. Plus, it has its own key file format called PPK.
Can you install PuTTY on Mac?
Of course. You can either use the built-in SSH client in Mac OS X or install the ported PuTTY for Mac using HomeBrew or MacPorts. Both offer the same user experience.
What’s the difference between Telnet and SSH?
Telnet (short for Telecommunications and Networks) is a networking protocol specifically designed for local area networks. It uses Port 23 to transfer data over the internet or private network in plain-text format. It doesn’t implement any data encryption method or adhere to authentication policies.
On the other hand, SSH (short for Secure Shell) offers secure communication and strong authentication over an insecure connection. It uses Port 22 (by default) to transfer data in an encrypted format. Furthermore, SSH protects a network from common attacks like DNS spoofing, IP source routing, and IP spoofing.
Why you can trust us?
We tested 25+ PuTTY alternatives on different devices running on Windows, Mac, and Linux. It took us more than 20 hours to analyze basic as well as advanced features.
As usual, we decided to shortlist the 13 tools based on their features, ease of use, and connection stability. In order to show you the true picture, we haven’t considered the reviews and testimonials featured on the tool’s official website.
We DO NOT earn commission from any of the featured tools. Furthermore, we have two separate editors who have no influence over our listing criteria or recommendations.