Manage SSH Keys in PuTTY

PuTTY is a third-party tool. If there are any issues with PuTTY, please contact the team who develops PuTTY on their website. PuTTY is not a JumpCloud product, nor do we support issues with PuTTY. JumpCloud is using PuTTY in this article as an example of a third-party Windows SSH client. If you have another SSH client you prefer, refer to their documentation to set up SSH public and private key pairs. 

Generating a Secure Shell (SSH) Key Pair with PuTTY

Note: Public key authentication in PuTTY uses SSH keys stored in .ppk files.

To generate an SSH key pair using PuTTY

  1. Go to the PuTTY website: Download PuTTY – a free SSH and telnet client for Windows.
  2. Click the Download link.
  3. Under Package files, click one of the MSI Windows Installer options and install it on your local Windows device. 
  4. When PuTTY is installed, open the PuTTYgen program. 
  5. Use the default parameters or customize the parameters.

Note: The default parameters are appropriate in most situations.

  1. Click Generate.

Note: You may be prompted to generate randomness by moving the mouse over a certain area. This randomness, known as entropy, is used to securely create keys.

  1. Create a passphrase for your SSH key. 

Note: Using a passphrase with your SSH key improves security. Every time you use your SSH key, you’re required to give the passphrase, unless you use software that stores the decrypted key.

  1. Copy the text under Public Key for Pasting into OpenSSH authorized_keys file. You need the public key to set up public key authentication with JumpCloud. For more information about using SSH keys with JumpCloud, see Add an SSH Key to an Account.
  2. Click Save private key, and select a secure location to save the private key. The private key is saved as a .ppk file type. Note: It is strongly recommended that you keep this private key secured. 

If you opted out of using a passphrase, you’re asked to confirm this decision when you save your key. 

Note: You can click Save public key, but the format that the key is saved in won’t work with OpenSSH authorized_key files used for SSH key authentication on Linux servers.

Attaching a Private Key to a Saved Session

To attach a private key to a saved session:

  1. Open the PuTTY Configuration. 
  2. Load the session of your SSH server. In this example, the session string is
  3. Go to SSH > Auth > Credentials, and click Browse.
  4. Select the private key you created in the preceding section. 
  5. Go to Session and click Save. The private key is attached to the PuTTY profile. 

Confirming Your SSH Key Configuration

To confirm your SSH key configuration:

  1. Open PuTTY.
  2. Select the profile.
  3. Click Open. The window displays that the public key is used for authentication and you’re asked for the passphrase.
  4. Enter the passphrase.

Working with PuTTY’s Public Key Format

To collect the public key in the right format after the private key has been saved:  

  1. Open PuTTYgen.
  2. In Actions, select Load.
  3. Open the private key you created in the preceding steps. 
  4. The public key is displayed under Public Key for uploading into the User Portal.

Managing Keys in PuTTY

JumpCloud manages the public key. PuTTY stores the private key that a Windows user creates. 

When a public key is uploaded in JumpCloud, the public key is distributed to the Linux devices the user is connected to. PuTTY facilitates the SSH session by referencing the private key stored locally on the Windows device during SSH authentication. 

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