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So I happened to do the cardinal sin of administration. I changed the openssh settings, and accidently closed that terminal before I could test it, and of course, now I'm completely locked out. I was using password-less private key authentication. Am I completely screwed out of my server? This is a VPS system -- is there a way where I could have someone at the datacenter log in locally and redo the ssh settings?

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Almost certainly the VPS provider has a method by which they can console into your instance. Have you contacted them? – jscott Jun 21 '12 at 19:54

If you lost your SSH key, it's gonna be quite complicated. I don't really know if somebody can log in your VPS, but that means you would have to provide your root password. Do you have a backup? I know that some VPS allow to log in via console, Linode provides it, for instance. I guess at least you might talk with your provider.

In any case, you should learn about this, we improve our skills due to our failures.

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This is where your DC remote hands service comes into play. What level of shell support they provide for you varies with your colo and service agreement.

I'd provide a printed set of specific commands to run to restore settings to your preferred condition, along with any relevant files (e.g.: the correct SSH key to copy over/into the user's authorized_keys file).

Otherwise, plan on paying your server a personal visit.

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