I was wondering what people use as an SSHd server on Windows? I've decided that I want to be able to log in using SSH on my Windows computers but I don't want to use Linux full-time. What are my options, besides Cygwin (which I know of)? I've looked into some other server software but I don't know which are reliable and it's not easy to find reviews of some of them. Thanks!

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  • Stuff is out there, but ssh is pretty well useless for a lot of things one windows, because you need to do more via the gui. Instead, windows admins who don't want to log in to a full desktop can use mmc (microsoft management console), which can connect to remote machines. Feb 9, 2012 at 16:32
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    @JoelCoehoorn - this used to be the case many years ago. With the advent of Windows Server 2012 they became more focused on console access and not gui access (noted by the ability to only install a "core" version). When I was at teched one Microsoft employee was quoted as "you can control a fleet of Windows servers from Linux now". I do not believe that to be a sales pitch as remote powershel is very powerful. Oct 13, 2012 at 19:52
  • As of September 2017, and the Creator's Update, there is one built-in if you set Win10 to Developer Mode. Have you seen this? superuser.com/questions/1120133/…
    – SDsolar
    Sep 29, 2017 at 8:46

8 Answers 8


Take a look at freeSSHd if you want to avoid cygwin. I don't really have any problems with it. Their freeFTPd tool is pretty nice as well.


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  • Important: it doesn't accept domain auth and the forum is down (cannot post). In rest it could be a good solution.
    – sorin
    Apr 30, 2010 at 12:37
  • Problems I've encountered doing this in Windows 2008 R2 is that the FreeSSHd service doesn't seem to work--which means logging in and running the freeSSHd.exe whenever the server is rebooted... Oct 31, 2011 at 2:33
  • Domain admins don't work and local admins don't seem to work either via Remote Desktop in 1.2.6.
    – Wernight
    Feb 9, 2012 at 16:07
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    freeSSHd hasn't been updated for year. I wouldn't recommend anyone using it nowadays. Mar 5, 2014 at 13:49

Bitvise SSH Server is a great product. Free for personal use but I have a paid license for commercial use. With their SSH Client, you can set up SOCKS forwarding while you are on the road to direct web and mail traffic through your server. Supports port tunnels, remote desktop, SFTP and virtual users with an easy to configure GUI.


I use OpenSSH. It does use parts form cygwin, but it installes what it needs & it's much smaller than a full cywin install. It's fairly easy to set it up as a service on Windows (XP at least) - no experience running it on Vista or Windows 7.


Microsoft recently released its own build of OpenSSH for Windows (Releases and Downloads).

It does not have a dependency on Cygwin or anything else.

I have prepared a guide for setting up SSH/SFTP server on Windows using this Microsoft build of OpenSSH.


I used to use OpenSSH but have switched to using KpyM (http://www.kpym.com) with some code modifications for my own purposes. Its a lot more lightweight than freesshd and can run as a service so good for networks where you just want to have it running all the time without a notification tray icon. plus for deployments you can use the /SILENT flag to install with the defaults.


Cygwin OpenSSH.


  1. Install Cygwin:
    • Select "OpenSSH" and "nano" (or "vim")
  2. Start Cygwin terminal (console) as (Local not Domain) Administrator
  3. $ ssh_config
  4. $ net start sshd

Add yourself (simplest):

  1. $ ssh-user-config (say YES to the first one only is enough)
  2. $ ssh my_username@hostname_with_cygwin_openssh from another machine

Adding other users:

  1. Create a new Windows user 'john'
  2. Should also log in once as that user
  3. $ mkpasswd from Cygwin to update /etc/passwd
  4. $ nano /home/john/.ssh/authorized_keys and paste your public SSH key
  5. You can now login as 'john' with your private SSH key

If you have issues, check /var/log/sshd.log

  • Not a big thing, but the OQ did mention they knew cygwin, and were looking for non-cygwin alternatives. Nice writeup tho. Feb 9, 2012 at 16:41

I used to use copSSH; it's based on OpenSSH.

Use practices described here and here to lock it down.

I like the Bitvise Tunnelier client. In my experience, it has been better than putty (especially the auto-reconnect option).

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    copSSH uses Cygwin
    – Goyuix
    Nov 1, 2009 at 20:39
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    Correct - totally forgot about that. I don't use Cygwin outside of running the ssh service. FWIW, the copSSH install is complete - you don't need to install Cygwin independently.
    – sean e
    Nov 1, 2009 at 20:45

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