Step-by-step instructions to Load and Use a PPK File in PuTTY

If you’re venturing into the world of SSH and remote server administration using PuTTY, you might come across .ppk files, which are private key files used for authentication. Leveraging these key files can provide a more secure way to connect without relying on passwords. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to use these .ppk files with PuTTY to establish a connection to your remote server.

A .ppk file is a private key file format used by PuTTY. It stands for “PuTTY Private Key” (PPK). If you want to use a .ppk file to authenticate to a remote server using PuTTY, follow these step-by-step instructions:

  1. Install PuTTY:
    • If you haven’t already, download and install PuTTY. You can get it from the official website:
  2. Launch PuTTY:
    • Find the PuTTY program in your start menu, desktop, or wherever you installed it and open it.
  3. Configure the Host Name and Port:
    • Under the “Session” category, fill in the “Host Name (or IP address)” field with the remote server’s address.
    • Adjust the “Port” field if necessary (the default for SSH is 22).
  4. Load the .ppk Key File:
    • In the left pane, navigate to the “SSH” category by clicking the plus sign next to “SSH” to expand the related options.
    • Click on “Auth” (short for Authentication).
    • On the right pane, you’ll see a button labelled “Browse” under “Private key file for authentication.” Click on this.
    • Navigate to the location on your computer where your .ppk file is stored, select the file, and click “Open.”
  5. Return to the Session Screen and Save the Session (Optional):
    • In the left pane, click on the “Session” category to return to the main session configuration screen.
    • Under “Saved Sessions”, type a name for this session to easily remember it.
    • Click “Save” to save the session details, including the authentication key, for future use.
  6. Connect to the Server:
    • Click “Open” at the bottom of the PuTTY configuration window.
    • The first time you connect to a server, you might be presented with a security alert asking you to confirm the server’s host key fingerprint. If you trust the source and know the fingerprint is valid, click “Yes” to add the key to your cache and continue.
    • If the server is set up to request it, you may need to enter a username. Depending on the server setup, it might also ask for a passphrase for the key (if you’ve set one when creating or converting the .ppk file) or a password for the user.
  7. Close the Connection:
    • Once you’re done with your session, you can type exit and press enter to close the SSH connection.

Remember always to handle private key files with care. They are sensitive and provide access to servers. Protect them from unauthorized access and never share them.