A VPS (Virtual Private Server) is the best solution for business owners looking for budget-friendly ways to host their websites online. However, learning how to connect to a VPS might be tricky as it has different requirements based on the server OS and your device’s OS. 

That’s why, in this article, we’ll lay out everything you need to know to connect to a VPS and easily manage your site. Here, we’ll first review a few terms to help you fully understand the methods explained. Moreover, we’ll mention a solution for people looking to connect to a VPS from any device without struggle.

Keep reading to find out more.

How to connect to a VPS

Depending on your device’s operating system, you’ll need different apps or services to facilitate your connection to a VPS. For instance, to access a VPS through MacOS, you must use Microsoft Remote Desktop, PuTTY, or RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol).

Regardless of your operating system, you can connect to a VPS by creating a Remote Desktop connection or using SSH (Secure Shell Protocol). In the following, we’ll explain each term separately. If you are familiar with them, scroll down to the how-to part.

What is Secure Shell Protocol?

If you enjoy using commands to execute tasks and manage your server, an SSH is the best way to access a VPS. Learning to use SSH protocol may be hard, but it is handy when you get used to it, especially if you use a Linux-based computer.

In addition to connecting two devices, SSH protocol provides a secure network by encrypting shared data. As a result, you can use this protocol to manage your server and share data without worrying about cyber attackers. 

What is Remote Desktop Protocol?

RDP, or Remote Desktop Protocol, allows remote communication between a device and a desktop computer. It’s useful when you want to connect to a desktop computer that is physically located far away. As a result, if you want to access a VPS server from your computer or smartphone, an RDP will allow you to establish a connection and make changes to your server.

Although you can use RDP for Windows, MacOS, and Linux, it is most useful for connecting two remote Windows-based computers. 

Different methods to connect to a Windows VPS

It’s best to connect through a Windows OS if you use a Windows VPS. However, having a Windows operating system is unnecessary, as you can connect to it through Linux and macOS.

Let’s see how to connect to a Windows VPS on different operating systems or using different apps. 

Connect using Windows OS.

Remote Desktop Connection (RDC) is a default program on Windows computers that allows users to access and make changes on a device far away.

To use RDC to connect to your Windows VPS, follow these steps:

  • Click the Start menu and search “Remote Desktop Connection”.
  • Click the app to open it. (Alternatively, press the Win + R keys to open the Run window, then type mstsc to open RDC.)
  • In the blank section next to Computer, type the IP address or the name of the VPS you want to access, then hit the Connect button at the bottom of the screen.
  • You may see a warning if RDC fails to verify the identity of the remote device. In that case, click Yes to continue the connecting process.
  • In the following window, enter the username and password of your VPS account, then press OK.

Now, you are successfully connected to your remote computer. However, if you failed to connect or see an error popping up, it might be due to two reasons: 

  • Your remote computer is not connected to the Internet.
  • It’s inaccessible because it’s turned off or other similar issues.

In that case, check with your hosting company and try again.

Connect using Linux OS.

Many users think they can only connect to a Windows VPS through Windows devices. However, you can access a Windows remote computer from any operating system. All you need is to install third-party apps to make the process easier.

As a result, if you are using a Linux operating system, follow these steps to connect to your Windows VPS:

  • Download and install the Remmina app from the Snap store, a remote desktop client allowing you to connect to remote computers.
  • Find the app in the Show Applications section on your computer and click to open it.
  • At the left corner of the application, select the plus sign, then click RDP from the drop-down list.
  • Enter the server’s IP address in the blank section and hit Enter.
  • Now you’ll need to type your user’s name and password to connect to the server (if you don’t know your credentials, it’s probably been sent to you through email.)
  • A warning may appear to verify your server or connection. Hit Yes if you see one and proceed.

You’ll be successfully logged into the remote computer if no error comes up.

Connect using MacOS

If you are operating through a MacOS like Linux, you’ll need an RDP to connect to a Windows server. There are many applications you can use to connect, like PuTTY. However, we recommend Microsoft Remote Desktop (MRD) in this tutorial as it is easier to configure and work with.

Download and install it from the App Store, then follow these steps:

  • Double-click to open MRD app, select the plus sign at the top pane of the window, then choose Desktop from the drop-down list.
  • Enter the server’s name or IP address to proceed.
  • After entering the server's credentials, you’ll get an email containing a username and password. Type your username and password in the following window before hitting the Add button. 
  • Now, you can see an option to access your VPS server. Choose Start to automatically configure the server with Mac OS and access your Windows VPS.

Connect using RDP (2X Remote Desktop Protocol)

No matter what operating system you use to connect to your Windows VPS, the 2X RDP app provides access to any web-enabled device. So, you can download and install its client application to connect to your remote computer easily.

After installing the app, follow these steps:

  • Double-click to open the app, then click on File at the corner of the screen.
  • Select New Connection from the drop-down window, then choose Standard RDP.
  • Enter the VPS’s IP address in the following window and hit OK. (The port number is 3389, in case you don’t have it already.)
  • Type your user’s name and password to proceed. 

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Different methods to connect to a Linux VPS

If you are a Linux fan and love the open-source world it brings about, working with Linux virtual private server can be the best option for you. It might be a bit harder than Windows VPS, but it provides more options for your purposes.

In addition, learning how to connect to a VPS operating on Linux is easy. No matter what operating system you are using, in the following, we’ll go through a step-by-step guide to help you out.

Connect using Linux OS.

Of course, connecting to a Linux VPS from a Linux system is easier than other operating systems. You can use the built-in Terminal app on your Linux PC and create an SSH connection.

Here’s how:

  • Start a Terminal session, then type ssh [username]@[server IP address] command. (Fill the blank section with your credentials.)
  • After that, you’ll be asked to enter your password. Type it, then hit the Enter key to start a connection easily.

Connect using Windows OS.

If you are using a device operating on Windows, you’ll need a third-party program like PuTTY or mRemoteNG to access a Linux VPS. PuTTY or similar Remote Desktop Connection apps provide an SSH (Secure Shell), creating an extra security layer when connecting two devices.

PuTTY is commonly used as it has a simpler interface than other apps. If you use the same app, after downloading and installing it, go through the following step to connect to a Linux VPS:

  • Open the app, type the VPS’s IP address or server name, and select SSH under the Connection type section. (The port number 22 must be set as default. If not, add it manually.)
  • Leave the rest of the settings, then click the Open button. (You may see a security error at this step, ignore it by clicking Accept.)
  • In the following configuration window, enter your username and password for the server, then hit the Enter key.

If you enter the credentials correctly, you’ll connect to VPS successfully.

Connect using MacOS

Like Linux, you can open a Terminal session in Mac OS to connect to a VPS. So, all you need to do is open a new Terminal session and key in the following command:

ssh [username]@[server IP address]

As shown in the command, add your username in the first blank, then type the VPS’s IP address in the second blank. At last, you’ll be prompted to enter your password to connect to the server successfully.

Bottom line

You can connect to a VPS through any operating system, no matter what type of server you purchase. Although accessing a VPS through the same OS is much simpler, third-party apps can help connect through any operating system.

In this guide, we mentioned some apps along the steps you’ll need to go through to access your Windows or Linux VPS. You can also install other apps if you have a problem with the RDPs explained in this article.

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