How to Generate SSH Key in Windows 10

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As you may already know, Windows 10 has built-in SSH software – both client and server! This feature is available in operating system version 1803 and higher. If the client option is installed, we can use it to generate a new SSH key.

On Windows machines, the open source PuTTY software is the de facto standard for SSH and Telnet. With Windows 10, Microsoft has finally listened to its users after years of asking for an SSH client and server. By including an implementation of OpenSSH, the value of the operating system increases.

The SSH client provided is similar to the Linux client. At first glance, it appears to support the same features as its *NIX counterpart. It is a console-based application, so you should be able to run it from the command line.

Installing the OpenSSH Module for PowerShell

  • Log on to the Windows computer with an administrator-level account and start PowerShell with administrator privileges.
  • To install the OpenSSH module, type the following cmdlet If this is the first time you have installed the module on the device, you may be prompted to download and install some additional tools. Type “Y” to allow the tools to be installed.
  • Installation module – Force OpenSSHUtils
  • Then, type the cmdlet to start the ssh-agent service to securely store privately generated SSH keys.
  • Starting the ssh-agent service
  • Finally, type the cmdlet to start the sshd service, which automatically generates the first host key pair.
  • Starting the sshd service

How to Generate an SSH Key under Windows 10

Creating SSH keys in a Windows environment used to be a complicated process that required the installation of third-party tools. Since the Windows update of April 10, 2018, Windows comes with a preinstalled OpenSSH client, which means that you can use ssh-keygen to generate SSH keys. Read the following while we guide you through the process.

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First, you need to make sure OpenSSH is installed on your machine – if you have upgraded from an earlier version of Windows 10, you may need to activate it manually. Launch the Settings application and click on the Applications category. Then click on the “Manage Optional Features” link. If you do not see “OpenSSH Client” in the list that appears, click the “Add Feature” button and install it. You may need to restart your PC after installation.

Once OpenSSH is installed, you are ready to proceed. Open the command prompt from the Start menu. Type “ssh-keygen” (without quotes) in the terminal window and press Enter. You are prompted to confirm the location. We recommend that you press Enter to use the default location in your user directory. Otherwise, type a path where you want to save the key, and then press Enter.

You can now choose whether or not to add a passphrase (password) to the key. If you add a passphrase, you must enter it each time you use the key. Either enter a passphrase and press Enter, or press Enter immediately to continue without a passphrase.

Windows will now generate your RSA public and private key pair. The public key will be stored as “” in the directory you specify. Download this key to all computers where you need SSH. You can then open a connection with the built-in Windows SSH client – enter “ssh user@hostname” to log in and authenticate with your generated credentials.

Deploying the Public Key

To use the user key created above, the public key must be stored on the server in a text file named authorized_keys under users\username.ssh. OpenSSH tools include scp, a secure file transfer utility that helps with this task.

To move the contents of your public key (~.ssh\ to a text file called authorized_keys in ~.ssh\ on your server/host.

This example uses the Repair-AuthorizedKeyPermissions function of the OpenSSHUtils module previously installed on the host in the above instructions.

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