Create and Connect to a Server from a Windows Machine

Update (December 2017):

SSH on Windows 10 using OpenSSH

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  • You are now able to use the OpenSSH client on Windows 10.
  • The client is currently in Beta but should work on most regular SSH connections.
  • You can install it by:
  • Start Menu > Manage Optional Features > Add a Feature > OpenSSH Client
  • Choose "OpenSSH Client" and proceed to install it.
  • Once installed, you can open up a new command-prompt/command line and attempt to connect to a server using the SSH instructions found here:
  • Accessing your Server
    • We recommend using OpenSSH Client for connecting to servers. However, you can still use the instructions below and connect to your servers with PuTTY.

How To Log Into Your Server with PuTTY (for Windows users)

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Step One—Download PuTTY

To log into your Server on windows, you will need to have PuTTY, an SSH client, installed on your computer.

If you do not have it yet, you can download the program here. Choose the windows installer.

Step Two—Set Up the Configuration Screen

Once PuTTY is downloaded and installed, starting the program will take you to the configuration screen, where you need to make just a couple of changes.

  • With the "Session" Category selected - Fill in the “Host Name (or IP address)” field with the Server IP address from the welcome email, make sure the port number is 22, and the connection type is SSH.

  • Additionally, click on the sidebar entry, SSH, and select “2 only” as the preferred SSH protocol version.

  • Once everything is configured, you can name your session. 

    • Click on the "Session" category again - Name your session by adding a name in the "Saved Sessions" field and save these preferences for the future by clicking on "Save".

Step Three—Connect

Double click on the session name to connect, and accept the subsequent pop up that asks if you want to connect to the host. After PuTTY starts up, type in the root password that was emailed to you. The password will not be visible, however, it is still being entered as you type.

You will then be connected to your CloudAfrica server


PuTTY Key Generator (a.k.a. PuTTYgen)

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While PuTTY is a client program for SSH (in addition to Telnet and Rlogin), it is not a port of or otherwise based on OpenSSH. Consequently, PuTTY does not have native support for reading OpenSSH's SSH-2 private key files. However, PuTTY does have a companion named PuTTYgen (an RSA and DSA key generation utility), that can convert OpenSSH private key files into PuTTY's format; allowing you to connect to your cloud server from a Windows machine, with the added security that SSH keys provide.

PuTTYgen is a (free) open-source utility and can be downloaded from the maintainer's website. PuTTYgen is what you will use to generate your SSH keys for use in PuTTY. To start, all you need to do is download the executable files (.exe) and save them on the computer that you'll use to connect to your VPS, e.g. on the desktop. You will not need to "install" PuTTYgen, because it is a standalone application.


Generating OpenSSH-compatible Keys for Use with PuTTY

To generate a set of RSA keys with PuTTYgen:

  1. Start the PuTTYgen utility, by double-clicking on its .exe file;

  2. For Type of key to generate, select SSH-2 RSA;

  3. In the Number of bits in a generated key field, specify either 2048 or 4096 (increasing the bits makes it harder to crack the key by brute-force methods);

  4. Click the Generate button;

  5. Move your mouse pointer around in the blank area of the Key section, below the progress bar (to generate some randomness) until the progress bar is full;

  6. A private/ public key pair has now been generated;

  7. In the Key comment field, enter any comment you'd like, to help you identify this key pair, later (e.g. your e-mail address; home; office; etc.) -- the key comment is particularly useful in the event you end up creating more than one key pair;

  8. Optional: Type a passphrase in the Key passphrase field & re-type the same passphrase in theConfirm passphrase field (if you would like to use your keys for automated processes, however, you should not create a passphrase);

  9. Click the Save public key button & choose whatever filename you'd like (some users create a folder in their computer named my_keys);

  10. Click the Save private key button & choose whatever filename you'd like (you can save it in the same location as the public key, but it should be a location that only you can access and that you will NOT lose! If you lose your keys and have disabled username/password logins, you will no longer be able log in!);

  11. Right-click in the text field labelled Public key for pasting into OpenSSH authorized_keys file and choose Select All;

  12. Right-click again in the same text field and choose Copy.

NOTE: PuTTY and OpenSSH use different formats for public SSH keys. If the SSH Key you copied starts with "---- BEGIN SSH2 PUBLIC KEY ...", it is in the wrong format. Be sure to follow the instructions carefully. Your key should start with "ssh-rsa AAAA ...."


CloudAfrica web portal - add SSH Key

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Login to the CloudAfrica web console:

- Click Keys on the top black navigation bar

- Click + New Key button on the far right

- Give the key a name

- Supply the public portion of the SSH key

- Click Add Key

You will now be able to create your server with the SSH key associated for access.


Adding your first server (CA-1 + CentOS 7)

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Login to the CloudAfrica web console:

  • Click the big green button “Create your first server” in the middle of the screen

    • Input your desired Server name eg. test01.example.com

    • Select your desired image (operating system) from the list

    • CentOS 7 is the first box in the second row, click on it and the box will change to a darker shade of grey

    • Click the green button on the right “Next >>”

  • Select the size of the server you require

    • If you intend to create a CA-1 instance leave the selection as is, otherwise select the dimension of the host from the list of options

    • Click the green button on the right “Next >>”

  • Change the disk allocation for your server

    • Here you have the ability to scale and add disks

    • The CentOS image has a fixed root/first disk size of 10G, we need to add a second disk with a size of 20GB to enjoy full use of the available 30GB for a CA-1 server.

      • Click the green “+ Add Disk” button

      • Adjust the slider so that the value reads 20GB

    • Click the green button on the right “Next >>”

  • Select Private or Public networking

    • For our simple example, we will skip private networking and order the server with public only networking

    • Toggle the blue and white switch on the left that is labelled “Enable”

    • The label will change to “None”

    • Click the green button on the right “Next >>”

  • Setup Public Networking

    • Assuming you already have an account, please select the account you wish to be billed for

    • Then check the SSH keys that you require to access the server

    • The firewall configuration will need an additional rule to allow SSH with the following settings:

      • Source: Any

      • Port: 22

      • Protocol: TCP

    • Click the green button on the right “Next >>”

  • Now we are at the Final confirmation step

    • Please review the details of your order and agree to our terms and conditions

    • Click the green button on the right “Next >>”

  • The next screen will detail the creation process of the server and once done will redirect you to a list of all your servers

  • From the list, you will be able to get the IP address of the server and start interacting with your new machine over SSH.

  • Congratulations you have created your first server!