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SSH Secure Shell/SFTP

Software Description

Software Description: SSH software is used to connect Windows PCs to remote Unix and/or Linux host systems.

Platform: Windows
Cost: No charge

SSH Secure Shell (which includes Secure FTP) SSH provides for an encrypted link between client and server computers and should be used anytime data is transferred which is of a sensitive nature.

Download/Installation instructions:

  1. Click SSH Secure Shell v3.2 Client for Windows to download the installation program file to your PC.
  2. After downloading, launch the installation program file, then follow the instructions presented on-screen to install SSH on your PC.
  3. After installation, you may delete the installation file to save disk space.

Secure Shell (SSH) and Secure File Transfer (SFTP) Facilities

The SSH Secure Shell / SFTP program provides two facilities. It can provide a "shell" facility, which allows you to login to a remote server and issue commands at a command prompt. It can also provide a file transfer facility, which allows you to copy files between your PC and a remote server.

Both facilities provide a secure connection to the server by encrypting the information that is sent between your PC and the server. The secure shell facility is commonly referred to as SSH, and the secure file transfer facility is referred to as SFTP.

You can launch the program either as an SSH client or an SFTP client ("client" means a program running on your PC that interacts with another program running on a server). The program window has a different appearance for each client.

To launch as an SSH client, click the Windows Start button and select: 

    All Programs 
    SSH Secure Shell 
    Secure Shell Client

To launch as an SFTP client, select: 

    All Programs 
    SSH Secure Shell 
    Secure File Transfer Client

If the program is launched as an SSH client, you can, if desired, also open an SFTP window by displaying the Window menu and selecting New File Transfer. And, vice-versa, from an SFTP window, you can open a new SSH window by selecting New Terminal from the Window menu.

Before you can use SSH or SFTP to connect to a particular server, a new 'profile' must be created for that server (see next section). A profile created when in an SSH window will also be available for SFTP, and vice-versa.

Making Profiles in Secure Shell and SFTP

A profile is a collection of information (server settings and personal settings) that is used when SSH Secure Shell / FTP connects to a server. This section explains how to create a profile. Note that you first name the profile, and then you edit the profile to alter the information/settings that it contains. Only two settings will be discussed below: the host name for the server and the user name for your account on the server.

A profile created when in an SSH window will also be available for SFTP, and vice-versa.

1. Launch the program as either an SSH client or SFTP client, as desired.

2. The program window will open. In the window, click the Profiles button, then select Add Profile, as shown below:

3. Type a descriptive name for your profile and press the Enter key:

The following is a list of commonly used hosts at VCU:

  • Koti
  • Compile
  • People
  • Video

4. Click the Profiles button again and select Edit Profiles. The Profiles dialog box will open, as seen below. On the left side of this box, select the name of the server for which you wish to create a profile. Then on the right side, in the Connection tab, enter the server's host name in the Host Name box and your account's username in the User Name box.

  • The host name for Koti is koti.vcu.edu
  • The host name for Compile is compile.vcu.edu
  • The host name for People is www.people.vcu.edu
  • The host name for Video is video.vcu.edu

Below is an example of creating a profile named Hubert with Host Name hubert.vcu.edu and User Name joeuser:

As you can see from the above screen, there are many settings available. In general, you should only change a setting if you "know what you are doing." However, there are some settings that are "safe" to alter, such as Colors (for changing the foreground, background, and cursor colors for each server) and Favorite Folders (for manipulating your list of favorite folder locations when transferring files -- see below). 

5. Select OK.

Connecting to a Server

  • Launch the program as either an SSH client or SFTP client.
  • To connect to a server (for which you have already defined a profile, as describe above), click the Profiles button and select the profile name for that server. In the example below, we have selected the profile for Hubert:
  • The first time you connect to a server, you will be asked to save a new host key in the local database, for example:

Select Yes. In the future when you connect to this server, you will (usually) not be asked this again.

  • You will then be prompted for your password, as shown below:

Type your password and press Enter. This will connect you to the server, and you will receive a command prompt for your account on the server.

Transferring Files

To transfer files between your PC and a server, first make a profile for that server, as described above. Then connect to the server, as described above.

If you are in a shell window, you need to open the SFTP client window by displaying the Window menu and selecting New File Transfer, as shown below:

The SFTP client window will open, as shown below:

The left half of this window displays "local" folders and files that are on your PC. The right half displays "remote" folders and files that are on the server.

To copy a file from your PC to the server, or vice-versa, simply use your mouse to "drag" the file from one side and "drop" it on the other side. The file transfer will begin immediately. A summary of the transfer progress will be displayed in the area at the bottom of the window. Note that you are copying the file and not moving it (i.e., the original file will remain in place).

Before you copy a file, you should set the proper transfer mode, using the three toolbar buttons shown below:



Select the left, middle, or right button to set the transfer mode to ASCII, binary, or automatic, respectively:

  • ASCII mode is appropriate for copying plain text files.
  • Binary mode is appropriate for most other files, including word processor documents, image files, zip files, and program files.
  • If automatic mode is selected, SSH will select the mode according to the file's filename extension. If the extension is any of the following:
    •  txt
    • html
    • .htm
    • .bat

Then ASCII mode will be used; otherwise binary mode will be used. If desired, the above list of extensions can be altered by displaying the Edit menu and selecting Settings and then Global Settings, then File Transfer, then Mode.

Using SFTP to transfer web documents

Files transferred using SFTP will only have owner read and write permission. If web documents are transferred using SFTP, this will prevent those documents from being seen by web browsers. You can configure the default file permission settings of web documents. To set permissions:

  • From the SFTP window, Edit, then Settings...
  • Open Global Settings, File Transfer, Advanced
  • Set the Default File Permission Mask to 644 which is the equivalent to owner read/write, group read and other read. Set the Default Directory Permission Mask to 755.

Setting up a default home directory

  • In the SSH File Transfer menu, go to: Edit >> Settings
  • Under File Transfer, select Remote Favorites. This is where you can set your home directory and other directories if you manage more than one site.

  • You can access these favorites by using the drop down menu that is located towards the upper right of the File transfer window. You can also type the directory directly into the text box.