What application do you use on windows to create SSH tunnels

On Linux I use gSTM, and on OSX I have used STM, but I am not able to find any similar free tools on windows.

I don't want to use putty, or plink for these tunnels, because, I am looking for something that will sit in the tray starting stopping tunnels can easily be done by right-clicking. Ideally the configuration will be stored in a text file or something so I can automate the install of the app, keys, and tunnel configuration on a computer using a script.

Free is proffered, but please post information about any good windows SSH tunnel manager.

5 Answers 5


For what you're looking for, I believe you'll be happy with either the 'Putty-tunnel-manager' ('PTM'?) project or 'Putty Tray' solutions. The two get their sessions from Putty, though you can move/copy the sessions to PTM as oppose to putty tray which uses putty all the way. Only PTM will allow you to stop and start a tunnel session from the taskbar... Putty tray will allow you to start it only. I've used Tunnelier, but it doesn't seem to be what you're looking for since I couldn't find an easy way of creating taskbar items(sessions).

I like Putty Tray better because I like having access to a terminal window/session when I load a tunnel (makes me feel more powerful by having access to Putty's configuration as oppose to the limited settings offered in PTM)... but maybe you want this as a solution for end-users, so with PTM you only create your tunnel (no terminal window opens). The nice thing about this is that if you left-click on the icon it shows you your opened sessions. A minus for PTM, it gave me a UI programming error when trying to call the taskbar when the settings page was in the background... looks like a bug.

All in all, that's my assessment for the already posted solutions.

I'd like to add another solution I found though it might be a little more bloated than putty and the above solutions. In any case, I thought it was a worthy mention since it's free and pretty full-featured:


Free for home and education

alt text http://www.netsarang.com/e_image/xsh_161.gif

This features page is pretty informative, so I won't rewrite it here. I found this client to be pretty full-feature which was something I was looking for, specially for the Tabs and easy launching of sessions/tunnels through the taskbar. Here's a couple of highlighted features listed on the site:

  • Using full screen view to use your entire monitor as a terminal
  • Using Compose bar to send a string to multiple servers at once.
  • Using tunneling bar for real time channel monitoring (SSH)
  • Using Dynamic Port Forwarding with Tunneling bar (SSH)
  • Using local shell interface to control Xshell

The application sessions are text-based and saved to the user's profile which could be easily scripted '\Application Data\NetSarang\Xshell\Sessions\Links'

The application comes with Xactivator.exe (276KB) which is the taskbar app that can be launched at startup, finds the sessions and allows you quick launch for them... unfortunately, it does not provide a disconnect in the taskbar.

Compatible with:

  • Microsoft Windows 98/ME/NT/2000/XP/2003/Vista
  • Microsoft Windows Terminal Server
  • Citrix MetaFrame for Windows

Use PuTTY Tray. It is based on PuTTY and works from the tray. Also, the current version of pageant (the ssh-agent from PuTTY) supports opening PuTTY sessions from the context menu.

  • +1 for PuTTY tray. Did not hear of this improved PuTTY before now. Thanks! May 4, 2009 at 8:08

I have used Tunnelier in the past. While it's only free for non-commercial use, it works really well.

  • From the page you linked: "Since version 3.60, Tunnelier is free for individual use, as well as for limited use inside organizations." May 2, 2009 at 7:21
  • I believe the client is freeware while the server component (WinSSH) is shareware. May 11, 2009 at 19:26
  • The server component, WinSSHD, is also free for personal use. From the Bitvise website: "When the personal edition is chosen during installation, WinSSHD can be used free of charge by non-commercial personal users." May 20, 2009 at 11:31
  • I agree. Bitvise Tunnelier and WinSSHD are by far the best products for SSH management for Windows that I have used.
    – kpax
    Jun 6, 2009 at 18:17

At Windows I use MyEnTunnel which is a simple system tray application.


While searching around for additional options I came across the putty-tunnel-manager project which looks like another pretty good option.

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