Is there a way to connect to an ssh session that was disconnected? We are having problems with our network connection to a remote site that we are working on separately; however, in the mean time we experience a large number of disconnects due to lost packets while connected to servers at the remote location. Many times the session stays active for a while, and sometimes it happens to be in the middle of some action (file editing, running some process, etc...) that I need to get back to rather than restart if possible.

12 Answers 12


UPDATE: For an actual answer see zero_r's answer below

This isn't an answer, but a workaround. Use screen.

When you first log in, run screen. You get another shell, run commands in that. If you're disconnected, the screen process keeps the terminal alive so that your shell and the processes it is running don't fall over. When you reconnect, run 'screen -r' to resume.

There's a bunch more to configuring and using screen, but the above should workaround your problem.

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    Or use tmux - a 'cooler' screen, I've used both and much prefer tmux because you can split the term nicely. – John Hunt Sep 19 '12 at 13:38
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    I was happy to find screen was already installed on my Ubuntu 12.x so if you not sure just try this command, it did reconnect and resume the do-release-upgrade process: sudo screen -D -r – bjm88 Jan 11 '16 at 15:56
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    @bjm88, sudo should be used only if the original screen session was initiated with sudo. Otherwise it will return as if no screen session exists: There is no screen to be detached – Noam Manos Jan 28 '18 at 9:26
  • +1 I realize this isn't the actual answer; however, screen -r was exactly what I was looking for. – Eric Nelson Jul 16 at 2:02

Try to set ClientAliveInterval (e.g. 60) and TCPKeepAlive (yes or no) to appropriate values on the serverside sshd.conf .

This should keep your session alive even if the connection gets lost for minutes.

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    So far, you seem to be the only one actually answering the question instead of suggesting screen as a workaround. – kbyrd Jun 4 '09 at 13:20
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    Good call. We've found this method particullarly useful when traversing cisco ASA/PIX firewalls, which by default love to time out tcp connections. – Mike Pountney Jun 4 '09 at 13:21
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    Maybe this isn't the right place to ask, but is it possible for the poster to switch answers? We should the 'screen' answer (mine's not the best, I like Mike Pountney's, but I got the rep) in with this information. – kbyrd Jun 4 '09 at 13:27
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    Will this work when connected over a Cisco VPN connection, and the VPN connection is lost and re-established? – Brent Jun 4 '09 at 14:26
  • for me screen works perfect, i can reconnect to screened task and countiune to work – integratorIT May 14 '15 at 11:15

As mentioned above, GNU Screen is the way to go. It will allow you to have a 'screen session' on the remote box that you can run multiple commands in, via multiple 'screen windows'. This will simply detach if your parent SSH connection dies, keeping all the subprocesses running within it alive and well.

'man screen' is your friend as usual, and the OS package should be called 'screen' if it is not installed by default.

Basics are:

  • Start a screen session (on your remote host):

    $ screen
  • Disconnect from your screen session: CTRL-A, d

  • Reconnect to your screen session after logging back in again:

    $ screen -d -r
  • Open another screen 'window': CTRL-A, c

  • Cycle through you open screen windows: CTRL-A, space

There is lots of cool stuff you can do with Screen. I've been using it for over 10 years, and still am finding out new features. It's my favourite Unix utility.

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    Yea, this is a much better answer than mine. – kbyrd Jun 4 '09 at 13:20
  • Can I still connect to the disconnected ssh session, if I reboot my pc where screen is running? – BarathVutukuri May 11 '18 at 7:35
  • tmux is more powerful – Pegasus Sep 6 at 13:28

I can't believe no one has mentioned MOSH;

Mosh is a seperate protocol that can hook into the SSH login process, it keeps your session alive after days of disconnection, changing IP, high latency and so on. It is explained on the home page better than I can explain it so I have copied the description below. My experiences and advice are that I use it on my Android mobile, it's a life saver when travelling and SSH'ing. The same is true on my laptop when tethered with mobile on the train for example. I recommend compiling from source to get the latest version, the repo version for me inside Ubuntu has a few annoyances in it which are fixed in the newest version (at the time of writing).

Mosh (mobile shell)

Remote terminal application that allows roaming, supports intermittent connectivity, and provides intelligent local echo and line editing of user keystrokes.

Mosh is a replacement for SSH. It's more robust and responsive, especially over Wi-Fi, cellular, and long-distance links.

Mosh is free software, available for GNU/Linux, FreeBSD, Solaris, Mac OS X, and Android.

Features from the website:

  • Change IP. Stay connected: Mosh automatically roams as you move between Internet connections. Use Wi-Fi on the train, Ethernet in a hotel, and LTE on a beach: you'll stay logged in. Most network programs lose their connections after roaming, including SSH and Web apps like Gmail. Mosh is different.

  • Makes for sweet dreams: With Mosh, you can put your laptop to sleep and wake it up later, keeping your connection intact. If your Internet connection drops, Mosh will warn you — but the connection resumes when network service comes back.

  • Get rid of network lag: SSH waits for the server's reply before showing you your own typing. That can make for a lousy user interface. Mosh is different: it gives an instant response to typing, deleting, and line editing. It does this adaptively and works even in full-screen programs like emacs and vim. On a bad connection, outstanding predictions are underlined so you won't be misled.

  • No privileged code. No daemon: You don't need to be the superuser to install or run Mosh. The client and server are executables run by an ordinary user and last only for the life of the connection.

  • Same login method: Mosh doesn't listen on network ports or authenticate users. The mosh client logs in to the server via SSH, and users present the same credentials (e.g., password, public key) as before. Then Mosh runs the mosh-server remotely and connects to it over UDP.

  • Runs inside your terminal, but better: Mosh is a command-line program, like ssh. You can use it inside xterm, gnome-terminal, urxvt, Terminal.app, iTerm, emacs, screen, or tmux. But mosh was designed from scratch and supports just one character set: UTF-8. It fixes Unicode bugs in other terminals and in SSH.

  • Control-C works great: Unlike SSH, mosh's UDP-based protocol handles packet loss gracefully, and sets the frame rate based on network conditions. Mosh doesn't fill up network buffers, so Control-C
    always works to halt a runaway process.

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    Mosh is not an ssh wrapper -- it's a different protocol, almost entirely unrelated to ssh (it only uses ssh for login). – jch Feb 6 '15 at 3:04
  • +1 Very true, my mistake. – jwbensley Oct 10 '15 at 14:03
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    What about security, man in middle? encryption ? key exchange ? – Nasir Iqbal Feb 9 '16 at 6:06
  • Mosh looks awesome, although sadly doesn't support port forwarding yet. – Boann Nov 23 '18 at 13:09

autossh watches your connection and if it goes down, it reconnects. It is more reliable than keepalives. If you connect to a screen session, you'll continue right from where you disconnected (see rscreen that comes with autossh)

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    outside of a configurable keep-alive, it doesn't inherently allow you to reconnect to a session (what the OP was looking for). but autossh can be really helpful for apps that require ssh tunnels, port mapping, etc. – ives Dec 17 '14 at 0:26
  • yes autossh+screen would be the sweet spot. autossh has rscreen for this. – hayalci Mar 20 '15 at 0:16
  • Autossh is better than mosh. I've used both. – Sridhar Sarnobat Sep 15 '17 at 16:48
  • Here's a blog post by Jesse Keating, about using autossh with screen. – sampablokuper Dec 29 '17 at 23:37


This one is a classic. Use it whenever you run the risk of losing connection to a terminal.

$ tmux
$ sh do_something_that_takes_forever

!! Connection fails so you reconnect once you notice

$ tmux ls
0: 1 windows (created Tue Aug 23 12:39:52 2011) [103x30]

$ tmux attach -t 0

Just like that, you're back in action.

  • Thanks a ton! I was looking for how to do this with tmux, since that seems to be what most people consider as the better option. – CoolOppo Jul 28 '16 at 21:09

I'd install and start screen to fix your problem. Screen will let you reconnect to a previous screen session.

Apart from that, screen also let's you do cool things like split your screen, view the console etc. You can find more info here and here.

For starters, if you get disconnected, you can use

screen -ls

to view your sessions and

screen -r ${session} 

to reconnect to a disconnected one.


As others have pointed out, screen is generally the best solution for this and it adds a host of other useful features too.

You can setup your profile on the remote machine to automatically start and/or reconnect to screen on login, which saves you forgetting to start screen the one time you need it because you suffer a connection drop.

See http://tlug.dnho.net/?q=node/239 (or search Google for many other examples dones slightly different ways).


a more modern alternative to screen, alas not available to some types of "virtualisation" (e.g. in cygwin you can have "screen", but not "tmux" due to the way it's designed), but wherever you have the option to install tmux, I'd strongly recommend to go for that one insted of screen.


Here's another non-screen solution.

Putty tray allows you to do just that, it has a reconnect on disconnect option that isn't in regular or putty-ng


it's a (completely open source) fork of putty with other options, go to connection settings and there are 2 options, one for 'attempt to reconnect on connection failure', and 'attempt to reconnect on startup'.

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    Ehh. Does it come with a keylogger and an automatic ppk exfiltration utility, by any chance? – Deer Hunter Jan 20 '15 at 10:14
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    I'm assuming you're asking if it somehow, steals your details, it's completely open source, the source code is available on github if you'd like to look its github.com/FauxFaux/PuTTYTray there are quite a few contributors :) – munkiepus Jan 20 '15 at 10:21
  • great cheers :) – munkiepus Jan 20 '15 at 10:24

While screen will keep your shell session open on the remote server if your ssh session drops, it won't do anything about the problem of ssh connections being dropped. As zero_r suggests, try tuning your ssh connection with keep alives and long timeouts.

I suggest you track down the cause of the lost packets causing the problems and fix that instead of working around it.

  • Thanks for the suggestion. We are working on tracking down the root problem of packet loss, it's simply taking a while to figure it out (very tricky, this one!). This really is a work-around for this trouble period. One never knows when something will cause a dropped connection. – palehorse Jun 4 '09 at 13:40
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    It will generate a lot of noise, but you can try running ssh through strace and see what it doing/reports when the ssh connection drops. It might just report what you already know, but who knows... – David Jun 4 '09 at 15:42

Sometimes I forgot to run screen too and losing my unfinished work. In this case, though we can't reattach to a broken SSH session, reparenting a running program to a new terminal and resuming what you were doing is still possible thanks to reptyr.

After accidentally disconnected from a SSH session, the first thing first is to run screen lest the connection gets broken again. Then in the new session, run ps aux | grep {The process to be resumed} to get the PID. With the PID, you could try reptyr {PID} or reptyr -T {PID} (if there are subprocesses) to continue the work.

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