How to use SSH (Secure Shell) on Windows and Mac to access your account

This article describes how to connect to your A2 Hosting account securely using SSH.

What is SSH access and why would you need to use SSH?

sshSecure Shell (SSH) is a protocol that provides secure command-line access to your A2 Hosting account. By using SSH, you can remotely log in to your A2 Hosting account and run commands as if you were sitting right at the server. Please note that SSH is the only protocol that A2 Hosting supports.

With its simplified interface, the command line allows you to perform tasks with text commands. You'll also find that SSH is a time-saving solution that can ultimately help speed up many tasks. You can also do tasks that you cannot do with your account's included hosting control panel.

How SSH works

An SSH connection is really as simple as creating a secure connection between two computers. SSH is able to provide a safe, encrypted connection between the client and the server through this encrypted tunnel. From here, you can easily transfer files between the connected machines or run programs and commands that would otherwise require more complicated screen sharing solutions. It is as if you were right in front of your server, in the data center where it is located.

What you need to create an SSH connection

Just as you need an FTP client to manage files with FTP, you need to install an SSH client on your computer to make an SSH connection. Putty and WinSCP are popular SSH solutions for Windows users. Both Linux and macOS have built-in terminals, so it is not necessary to download an SSH client. Our step-by-step SSH account access instructions, outlined below, will help you access your account remotely.

Where can you find SSH connection details?

To find this information, please first log in to the A2 Hosting Customer Portal. It can be found at:

https://my.a2hosting.com/

Click on your plan, which is located under the orange Your Active Products/Services section as shown in the screenshot below:

Click on your plan

Click anywhere on your package. This will take you to the Manage page. The Manage page contains all the technical information you need for SSH, such as your IP Address, your SSH Port, your Username, and your Password:

Customer Portal account information

For more information about how to use the Customer Portal, please see these articles.

How to use an SSH client

Follow the appropriate procedure below for your computer's operating system.

Windows operating systems

Any SSH client can be used, but for the purposes of this demonstration, we will be using PuTTY, which you can download here. To connect to your account using PuTTY, follow these steps:

  1. Start PuTTY.
  2. In the Host Name (or IP address) text box, type the hostname or IP address of the server where your account is located.
  3. In the Port text box, type 7822.
    A2 does not use the default SSH port 22. Please SSH to port 7822.
  4. Confirm that the Connection type radio button is set to SSH.
  5. Click Open.
  6. A PuTTY security alert about the server's host key appears the first time you connect. Click Yes.
  7. Enter your account username when prompted, and then press Enter.
  8. Type your account password when prompted, and then press Enter.
    For security reasons, no characters appear in the terminal as you type the password.
  9. When the remote server's command line prompt appears, you are connected. The initial command line prompt is:
    [email protected] [~]#
  10. You can now run commands. For example, to see a listing of the current directory, type ls, and then press Enter.
  11. To close the SSH connection when you are done, type exit and then press Enter.
macOS and Linux operating systems

Both macOS and Linux include SSH clients, so connecting to your A2 Hosting account on these operating systems is easy. You do not have to download a special client.

To connect to your account, follow these steps:

  1. Open a terminal window. The procedure to do this depends on the operating system and desktop environment.
    • On macOS, click Applications, click Utilities and then click Terminal.
  2. At the command prompt, type the following command. Replace username with your A2 Hosting username, and example.com with your site's domain name:

    ssh -p 7822 username@example.com
    A2 does not use the default SSH port 22. Please SSH to port 7822.
  3. Type your password when you are prompted to do so.

    For security reasons, no characters appear in the terminal as you type the password.
  4. When the remote server's command line prompt appears, you are connected. The initial command line prompt is:

    [email protected] [~]#
  5. You can now run commands. For example, to see a listing of the current directory, type ls, and then press Enter.
  6. To close the SSH connection when you are done, type exit and then press Enter.

    In the command in step 2, we explicitly specify the port number, the username, and the hostname. However, you can also define these settings for a remote host in your ~/.ssh/config file as follows:

    Host example
        Hostname example.com
        Port 7822
        User username
    

    The Host value can be any name you want; it is simply a label for the other settings. The Hostname value is the remote host you want to access, the port number is 7822, and the User value specifies your A2 Hosting account username. With this configuration defined, you can connect to the account by simply using the Host value. You do not have to type the port number, username, and hostname each time. The following command demonstrates how to do this:

    ssh example
    

Next steps

Now that you’ve successfully logged into SSH, you can deploy SSH keys to your account. A2 Hosting has an article, How to access your account using SSH keys, that walks you through the process. Another article of note, How to configure SSH keys using cPanel, shows you how to deploy SSH keys using cPanel. The possibilities are endless when you use SSH. 

If you need assistance or have a question regarding setting up SSH, please open a ticket on the Customer Portal at https://my.a2hosting.com and one of our Guru Crew will be glad to help you.

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