SSH Access Using PuTTy: A Guide from SiteGround

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Last night, inspired partly by David’s recent Quick Guide, I migrated an existing WordPress site’s 180MB filesystem onto a new SiteGround hosting account in about five minutes.

I didn’t use rsync or WP-CLI, as in David’s tutorial. Instead, I used the following steps:

  1. Upload a site backup as a complete .zip file using FTP.
  2. SSH into the account.
  3. Unzip the file using the unzip command.

It was absolutely crazy how little time the whole thing took. This would have been a two- or three-hour file transfer using FTP, since FTP “stops and starts” with each new file it transfers. Instead, Step 1 took maybe five minutes, and Step 3 took maybe five seconds.

What I did have to learn was a bit about how to SSH into a shared hosting account, and that’s where the attached tutorial comes in handy. It’s the best guide I’ve seen to using PuTTy (the most widely used SSH client for Windows machines) and its associated programs, starting from a private key generated through cPanel.

Obviously, your mileage may vary if you’ve got a host other than SiteGround, but the only thing I’d actually expect not to work is the SiteGround-specific information about which port number to use. Otherwise, I’d expect this tutorial to be about the best you’ll do for learning how to SSH into a shared host, and unlock the superpowers that doing so confers.

We have a full review of SiteGround available here (we really like them).

Image credit: connectors distribution box

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