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How to Connect to an ESXi 6.5 Host using SSH on Windows

By default SSH is disabled on an ESXi host to increase the security. This tutorial will show you how to enable SSH and how to connect to the host from a Windows machine.


Being able to connect to an ESXi host using SSH has many advantages such as:

The following steps will show you how to enable SSH on a host and how to connect to it from Windows.

Step 1: Enable SSH on the ESXi 6.5 Host

By default SSH is disabled on an ESXi host for security reasons. You can enable it by logging into the web client, clicking on HostActionsServices and then Enable Secure Shell (SSH).

Step 2: Download PuTTY for Windows 10

PuTTY is a free and open-source terminal emulator which you can use to connect to remote machines using network protocols such as SSH, SCP, and Telnet etc.

When downloading PuTTY we have two options. We can either use the portable version which means we don’t have to install it. This is a good option if you want to run PuTTY from a flash drive for use on multiple systems. It will also allow you to run PuTTY on system when you don’t have admin rights to install programs.

Before you can download PuTTY you need to determine whether you are running a 32-bit or 64-bit version of Windows. You can find this out by typing System into the search box and hitting Return.

Now that you know your OS version, head over to the PuTTY download page and click on the download link which matches your system.

With PuTTY downloaded you are now ready to move onto the next step.

Step 3: Install PuTTY on Windows 10

Note: If you downloaded the portable version you can skip this step and move onto step 4.

Double click on the downloaded .msi file to launch the installer wizard and then click Next.

Either keep the default install location or click Change to choose a new location then click Next.

Select the Add shortcut to PuTTY on the Desktop option and then click Install.

If you have User Access Control enabled you will be asked to confirm if you want to make changes to the system. Click Yes to the dialogue that pops up.

The installer will copy the files and then the finish screen will appear. Uncheck the View README file option and then click Finish.

PuTTY is now installed and you are ready to connect to the ESXi host.

Step 4: Use PuTTY to Connect to the ESXi Host via SSH

Now that PuTTY is installed we can connect to the ESXi host by doing the following steps.

  1. Double click on the PuTTY shortcut on the desktop (or putty.exe if using the portable version).
  2. Enter the IP address of the ESXi host into the Hostname (or IP Address) box.
  3. Click **Open, **if it’s the first time connecting, you will be asked to confirm if you trust the host click Yes to confirm.
  4. Enter the username which is normally root (or any other user you have setup to administer the host).
  5. Enter your password and you should now be connected.


That’s it. You should now be able to connect to your ESXi 6.5 host via SSH using PuTTY. If you have any questions or comments about this post, you can leave them in the comment section below.