How to use SSH, SCP, and SFTP to connect to, run commands on, and move files to and from websites hosted on web.illinois.edu.
Table of Contents
SSH tools can be used to log in to run commands, install software, and manage your files.
The cPanel dashboard now provides a web-based Terminal feature. When using the Terminal you do not need to enter credentials or use a key since you have already authenticated. To access the web-based Terminal, log in to your cPanel dashboard and choose Terminal from the Advancedsection.
You can use your NetID and NetID password to log in via SSH tools if the cPanel account name is the same as your NetID. Password authentication is only supported for accounts named after a NetID. Accounts with non-NetID names must use key-based authentication with SSH tools.
It is against campus policy to share your NetID password with others. If you need to allow others to use SSH tools with your account then you will need to configure key-based authentication for them.
For cPanel accounts that are not NetID-named, such as "someprojectsite.web.illinois.edu", you must use key-based authentication with SSH tools. When using key-based authentication, your ssh login name is your cPanel account name, not your netID.
You can also use key-based authentication to access your NetID-named account, or to allow others to access your NetID-named account. In this case, the login name is still the cPanel account name which happens to match the netID of the account owner (not necessarily the person who is logging in).
External partners: If you are an external partner without a NetID of your own, you will need to use the key method to use SSH to connect to any site, whether it is named for a NetID or not.
cPanel has a built-in mechanism for generating SSH keys. Please use a different key for each user of your cPanel account.
If you already have an SSH key you use for other systems then you can import that public key into cPanel.
Many graphical SCP applications use the PPK format for keys. You can easily convert your existing keys to PPK format using the key mananger.
The command line is a low level way to use SSH to connect to your cPanel account. It does not offer any "point and click" interfaces but many guides and experienced users expect a command line to be available.
Windows does not come with OpenSSH pre-installed. If you want to use OpenSSH on Windows you will need to download and install software to do so. Cygwin or Windows Subsystem for Linux can be installed for a fully featured Linux shell, similar to what you would find on Linux or Unix systems.
If you are using macOS, Linux, or Unix like system then you can use a terminal (such as Terminal or GNOME Terminal) to SSH, SCP, and SFTP to your cPanel account. Save your private keyfile (typically into the .ssh directory inside your home directory) and specify that keyfile during your command, for example:
If your key has a passcode then you will be prompted to enter it. Some operating systems might allow you to store your passcode so you do not have to enter it each time.
The first time you connect, you may also receive a message asking you whether you trust the authenticity of the host. Enter "Y" to continue with your connection.
You can use PuTTY to create a terminal to your cPanel account that gives you command line access. When you launch PuTTY you will be presented with a dialog for creating a new connection.
Optional: if you want to save these settings then under "Session", "Saved Sessions" give it a name and click "Save". It will then appear in the list of saved sessions and you can double click it to quickly load the settings again.
If you add the PuTTY install directory to your PATH then you also have access to several command line tools from the Windows command prompt or PowerShell. Save your private keyfile.ppk and specify that keyfile.ppk during your command, for example:
PuTTY also includes an SSH key agent called Pageant. Configuring and launching pageant will simplify using SSH keys for multiple accounts and hosts.
There are some tools available that allow users to move files between their local machines and remote hosts using a graphical user interface, much like move files between directories on your own local machine. Any GUI SCP tool that allows key-based authentication should work. The products listed below have been tested and are known to work with cPanel. To download, install, and configure these products please see the documentation for the specific software package.
The default permissions assigned by SCP clients may or may not be the correct permissions each file and folder needs in order to run securely. We recommend reading the documentation for any software you upload.
For more information: