How to Connect to a VPS (Windows & linux) steps + screenshots

VPS Hosting illustration

A virtual private server (VPS) is one of the most cost-effective ways to host your operations online without bearing the burden of a dedicated server.

As your business grows, you are likely to outgrow and start feeling constrained by shared hosting. However, dedicated hosting may still be an expensive option for your business. A VPS is a server running within a server that acts as an in-between solution in such cases, giving you more flexibility at a lower cost.

You can conveniently connect to and manage your VPS using a Secure Shell (SSH) from any computer operating system.

  • If you’re using Windows OS, you can easily connect using a Remote Desktop Connection (RDC) or 2X Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) client.
  • If you’re using Linux, you’ll need to install the Remmina app and use it to connect to the VPS.
  • If you’re using Mac OS, you can access your VPS using Microsoft Remote Desktop, PuTTY, or 2X RDP client.

 

Key Takeaways

  1. A Secure shell (SSH) facilitates text-based management of VPS and is more secure than RDP.
  2. You can successfully create a remote desktop connection via your VPS, whether you’re using Windows Os, Linux, or Mac OS.
  3. You need the server IP address, username, and password to successfully connect to a VPS.
  4. Your VPS account must have SSH access permission for you to access it remotely.
  5. You need to configure your VPS server the first time you log in remotely on your machine.

 

What is Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP)

Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) is a protocol that allows remote access to a desktop computer. It allows one to connect to and use a desktop computer that’s a distance away from a separate computer— the remote user can access the desktop files, open, and edit them while the source desktop is far away.

It’s the most common protocol for establishing a connection between windows-based machines.

 

What is SSH?

A Secure Shell (SSH) is another network communication protocol that enables communication and data sharing between two computers. SSH provides public key authentication and strong password authentication, which facilitate communication over an open network.

Communication between the two computers is often encrypted, and information can be shared over an unsecured network. SSH is commonly used by network administrators to remotely manage network systems between Linux-based machines.

It enables them to remotely log in, execute commands, and transfer files from one computer to another. SSH connections are, therefore, used to connect to servers and secure communication between a remote host and another local machine.

 

Requirements for using SSH to log in to your VPS

A Secure Shell (SSH) is a convenient way to log in and manage your VPS. Here’s what you need to log into your VPS using SSH:

  • The remote computer should be on and have a network connection
  • You must have the IP address of the remote machine you’re connecting to
  • You need access permission to the remote computer
  • Ensure your VPS account has been granted SSH access
  • Your firewall settings should allow remote connections
  • Ensure your IP address has been added to the firewall. You can add your IP address to the firewall by logging into your Web Host Manager (WHM) and clicking the ‘Add IPP to the Firewall’ button in the left menu. You can then enter the IP address in the ‘Allow Rule’ field and click the ‘Add Rule/Restart’ button.
  • You need to gather your SSH details from the VPS dashboard. By selecting VPS access, you’ll get the SSH username and password, which you’ll use to log in to your VPS.
  • If you’re a Windows user, you’ll also need to install an SSH client or OpenSSH
  • The client and server applications must be enabled.

 

How to connect to a Windows VPS

For Windows users, you can connect to a Windows VPS using either a Remote Desktop Connection (RDC) or a 2X Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) client.

Let’s go through how to connect to a Windows VPS using either method:

  • Remote Desktop Connection (RDC)

On your Windows desktop, press the windows key or click the ‘Start’ menu on the screen.

Keyboard

Press windows key

 

Type ‘Remote desktop’ on the search bar and click the computer icon that shows up labeled ‘Remote desktop connection.’

Screenshot of Windows Start menu

Type ‘Remote desktop connection.’

Key in the IP address or the computer name of the computer you want to connect to and click Connect. You can always find the IP address by selecting your service from the secure client panel.

Type the IP address.

Screenshot of Remote Desktop Connection

Or the Computer name

Show Options button

The RDC may give you a warning if it cannot verify the identity of the remote computer, since it uses a self-generated certificate (SSL).

Screenshot of Remote Desktop Connection

Verification warning!

If you see this warning, click Yes and proceed.

A new window will appear, where you will be prompted to key in your VPS account username and password.

Screenshot of Window Security Windows

Enter your credentials

You will then be successfully signed in to your VPS from which you can access and control your target desktop remotely. However, you may receive an error message if the server is inaccessible or offline.

Screenshot of Remote Desktop Connection (Error)

Error message

  • 2X Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) client

As a windows user, you can also connect to the windows VPS using the remote desktop protocol.

If you want to connect to your VPS using the 2X Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) client option, follow the following steps:

  1. You’ll first need to download and install the 2X RDP Client application if your computer doesn’t have it yet.
  2. After installing, open the application and navigate through the file>new connection>standard RDP option.
  3. In the primary connection field, type the IP address of your remote server
  4. Key in 3389 in the port section
  5. Enter your VPS username and password and click OK. You’ll be successfully logged in to the remote server.

Login to Windows VPS through Windows OS

Another way to connect to your Windows VPS is through Windows OS.

If you’re using Windows 10, follow the steps below on how to connect to VPS on Windows 10 successfully.

  1. Log in to your local system and press the windows button or the start menu.
  2. On the programs menu, navigate to ‘Windows Accessories>Remote Desktop Connection.

Screenshot of Windows Start menu

Alternatively, you can select Windows systems>Run from the programs menu.

Screenshot of Windows Start menu

  1. Input mstsc in the text box that appears and hit OK

Screenshot of Run menu

  1. You’ll then be prompted to enter your server IP address or the computer name, after which you’ll click Connect.

Screenshot of Remote Desktop Connection

  1. A new window will pop up for you to input your VPS username and password.

For faster connection in the future, you can check the ‘Remember me button for the system to save your username and password. This way, you won’t need to input these details whenever you want to log in to the saver. You can then click Ok to proceed.

Screenshot of Windows Security

Again, you may receive an SSL certificate warning which you can ignore by checking the ‘Don’t ask me again for connections to this computer’ box and clicking Yes to proceed.

Screenshot of Remote Desktop Connection

Once you complete the process, you’ll be successfully logged in to the windows VPS from which you can access another desktop remotely.

How to Login to VPS through Linux OS

If you are operating through a Linux OS, you can still log into Windows VPS. To connect through the remote desktop protocol (RDP), you need to install Remmina (a remote desktop client).

You can install Remmina from the Snap store after which you can access it from the ‘Show applications’ button at the left bottom corner.

Screenshot of Show Applications button

NB: You’ll receive a welcome email with the login information (The server IP, Username, and password),

Screenshot of Remmina icon

  1. Click the plus sign on Remmina to launch a new connection profile.
  2. Select the connection type as RDP, then input the VPS hostname or the IP address of the server you want to access.

Connection type: RDP

Screenshot of Remmina Remote Desktop Client (RDP is highlighted)

Enter IP address:

Screenshot of Remmina Remote Desktop Client

  1. Once you press enter, you’ll be prompted to key in the username and password to access the server (The ones sent to you via mail).

Screenshot of RDP authentication credentials

You’re likely to receive a warning regarding the certificate the first time you log in. Just click Yes to proceed.

Screenshot of IP and certificate datails

Screenshot of RDP authentication credentials

If all goes well, you’ll be successfully logged into the RDP server.

Login into Windows VPS through MAC OS

Like with Windows and Linux, you can also log in to Windows VPS through MAC OS.

To do this, you’ll need to download Microsoft Remote Desktop (MRD) from the App Store and install it on your Mac system.

Screenshot of Microsoft Remote Desktop in Mac App Store

  1. After installing, open the program and click the New or plus icon, then select ‘Desktop’ to start a new remote desktop connection.

Screenshot of Microsoft Remote Desktop (desktop selected)

  1. You’ll be prompted to enter the PC name or server IP address.

Screenshot of Microsoft Remote Desktop (Adding a user Account)

  1. Click Add user account in the user account drop-down, then input your username and password (sent to you via mail).
  1. Set the username as Administrator or any other name you can easily remember. Leave the other settings at default and click ‘Add’. You will then see your new remote connection in the list.

Screenshot of Microsoft Remote Desktop (Adding a Desktop)

When you click the start button, your Mac OS remote desktop will be automatically configured with your window VPS.

Now you can see the remote desktop and access it any time you open the MRD App.

Aside from the Microsoft Remote Desktop Connection, you can also connect to windows VRP from Mac OS using other windows RDP clients such as: PuTTY (A free software application for MS Windows OS, which helps to create a secure shell connection to your VPS) and 2X RDP Client.

 

How to Connect to a Linux VPS

Whether you are a Windows OS user, Linux, or Mac OS user, you can log into a Linux VPS and control your target desktop remotely through the server.

Here is the step-by-step guide on how to connect to a Linux VPS from each of the operating systems.

Connect to a Linux server from Windows

To connect to the Linux server from Windows OS, you use a program called PuTTY, through which you’ll form a Secure Shell (SSH) connection between the two.

You can Download PuTTY here.

  1. After downloading and installing, launch the application and enter the hostname or the server IP address. Leave Port 22 as default and choose the connection type as SSH.
  2. Click Open to start the connection.

Screenshot of PuTTY Configuration

If it’s your first time connecting through this computer, you may receive the security alert below.

Screenshot of PuTTY Security Alert

  1. Click Accept to proceed to the connection. The SSH connection will be open, and you’ll need to key in your username and password for the Linux server.
  2. Press Enter, and you’ll be successfully logged into the SSH server.

Screenshot of PuTTY Configuration

Another way to connect to a Linux server from windows is through mRemoteNG:

  1. Download and install the mRemoteNG app.

Screenshot of mRemoteNG setup

  1. Launch the app and add a new connection.

Screenshot of mRemoteNG

  1. Select SSH version 2, then enter the server IP, username and password.

Screenshot of config window

You’ll be successfully logged into your Linux VPS.

Screenshot of config window

Connect to a Linux server from Linux

The easiest way to connect to a Linux server from Linux is using SSH from a terminal session.

  1. Open the terminal emulator and key in the SSH command: ssh [username]@[server IP address] e.g ssh root@myserver.contoso.com
  2. When asked for the password, enter the one provided in the instructions and press enter. The server connection will be established.

screenshot of Terminal app

screenshot of Terminal

You can also connect to a Linux server from Linux by using Remmina.

Once you install the software, launch it and click the green +sign to add a connection.

Enter the computer name and change the protocol to SSH.

screenshot of Remmina Remote Desktop Client (Choosing a SSH)

Type the hostname and enter your server username and password. The connection will be established.

screenshot of Basic tab

screenshot of Remmina Remote Desktop Client

Connect to a Linux server from MAC OS

You may need to connect to a Linux server from your Mac OS.

 

Mac OS is a UNIX 03-compliant operating system certified by The Open Group, so you can use a terminal like in Linux to connect to any other *nix OS.

screenshot of Terminal app

screenshot of Terminal

 

Configuring and connecting a VPS

After successfully connecting to your VPS through any of the methods explained above, you’ll need to configure the server for it to meet your target functions.

Some important components of VPS you have to configure include:

  • Server access via SSH

If you’re accessing the VPS for the first time via the SSH protocol, you’ll have to enter the root login credentials. If you’re using Linux, use the command ssh[root username]@[server IP], then enter the password.

  • Enable the Firewall

A firewall helps provide security to your server by monitoring incoming and outgoing traffic. It identifies and keeps away unsafe traffic from the server.

The firewall is disabled by default, and you need to enable it after accessing your server. To enable the firewall, log into your control panel and navigate to the VPS. Under Network, select VPS-Firewall.

screenshot of Network tab

Set the switch ON on the tab labeled ‘Enable VPS firewall for this VPS’

You can also turn the switch ON on ‘Enable VPS Firewall for all new VPSes in this account’ for your future benefit.

screenshot of Enable or disable VPS Firewall

  • Enabling and disabling SSH Public-key authentication

Public key authentication enables you to log in to the server using the public key instead of the password.

  1. To set up the SSH keys, launch your terminal application and open the SSHd configuration file.
  2. Search for PubkeyAuthentication and switch the option to Yes to allow public key authentication or No to disallow.
  3. Restart the server for the changes to be effected.

Expert tip: To avoid completely losing access to your remote server, ensure the password method is enabled before you disable the public key authentication method.

  • Securing your domain with an SSL certificate

Once you secure your server by setting up the firewall, you might also want to secure your domain. To do this, you’ll require an SSL certificate, which you can install manually to the VPS.

Request your SSL from an SSL certificate provider by providing your domain name and type of server. Verify your SSL and then download it from the SSL dashboard.

Install the certificate into your server and redirect your site visitors from the initial HTTP site address to the more secure HTTPS address.

 

Conclusion

A Virtual Private Server (VPS) is an effective and flexible way to manage your business data and information without feeling constrained by shared hosting.

When you secure VPS hosting, you can access it at any time, regardless of the type of computer you’re using. You can connect to your VPS using a secure shell (SSH) from any operating system.

Windows users can easily connect using Remote Desktop Connection (RDC) or 2X Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) client. Linux users can easily connect through Remmina, while Mac OS users can access their VPS using Microsoft Remote Desktop, PuTTY, or 2X RDP client.

If you can’t afford a dedicated server, spare yourself the headache and secure VPS hosting from one of the top 10 VPS hosting providers.

 

Next Steps: What Now?

Here are some practical steps you can take from this comprehensive guide on how to connect to your VPS:

  • Secure VPS hosting from the top 10 VPS hosting providers
  • If you feel your business is too grown for a VPS server, get a dedicated server from our top 10 dedicated server providers.
  • Secure your domain with an SSL certificate and use this free online SSL checker to get information about your certificate.

 

Further reading:

Here are some useful resources to help you learn more about how to connect to VPS, whether you are using the Windows operating system, Linux, or Mac OS.


FAQs

  • Why would I need a VPS?

You would need a VPS to have a dedicated resource for storing your professional files in a shared server, which is more flexible and secure. If you don’t have dedicated server space, a VPS provides a more stable solution than shared hosting.

  • Is VPS and RDP the same?

VPS and RDP are the same but VPS is a private server, while RDP is shared by several users. VPS is not shared with full root admin access.

  • How do I connect to VPS on Windows 10?

Go to the start menu and navigate to All programs>Accessories>Remote desktop connection. Enter the server IP address, then your username and password. You’ll be automatically logged into the VPS.

  • How do I find my VPS IP address?

To find your VPS address, navigate to the VPS dashboard and select your server. Check the top of the VPS information section, and you’ll see the IP address displayed.

 

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