How do I copy a SSH Private Key to my Windows Computer?

For some reason, Putty wouldn’t accept my key. It’s probably something I did many months ago. I’ve generated a new key pair on the terminal as per instructions on this site and they’re in my ./ssh directory I need to copy the private key to my Windows box so that Putty can find it. I’ve tried numerous cut/paste methods including Ctrl 6 and Alt 6 but nothing is going to my windows clipboard. How is it done? (Ubuntu 18.04)

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Hello there,

You can check our article on How to Upload an SSH Public Key to an Existing Droplet

You can access the droplet from the DigitalOcean console and then temporary enable the PasswordAuthentication on your droplet and access the droplet with a password to upload the ssh-key.

If you haven’t created new pair of keys you’ll need to do that first.

You can enable PasswordAuthentication for your Droplet by modifying your /etc/ssh/sshd_config file. Once set to Yes restart the SSH service and connect via an SSH client for a more stable connection. You can then modify your ~/.ssh/authorized_keys file to add the appropriate public key.

This change can be made from the DigitalOcean’s console. If you’re having issues accessing the console you can then reach to our amazing support team that can help you further with this.

To enable the PasswordAuthentication follow these steps:

  1. Login to the console on the DigitalOcean website.
  2. Type sudo nano /etc/ssh/sshd_config
  3. Change PasswordAuthentication from “no” to “yes” and save the file
  4. Open a terminal on your computer and type ssh username@[hostname or IP address] or if on a Windows box use PuTTY for password login making sure authentication parameters aren’t pointing to a private key
  5. Login with a password
  6. Type sudo nano ~/.ssh/authorized_keys
  7. Paste public key text here and save the file
  8. Type sudo nano /etc/ssh/sshd_config
  9. Change PasswordAuthentication from “yes” to “no” and save the file
  10. Log out and attempt to log back in (if using PuTTY make sure you set up auth parameters to point to your private key)

You can then upload the key using this command:

ssh-copy-id -i ~/.ssh/mykey user@droplet

Hope that this helps! Regards, Alex

Hi Bobby and I thank you again for you speedy and detailed answer. You actually beat me by a few minutes because I was about to respond to my previous message.

After finding a thread from a person with the same problem as mine and reading the endless negative comments about the DigitalOcean terminal, I concluded that it was impossible to paste Windows text. As I desperately needed to access my site via Putty, I entered the Public Key by hand. I made two small mistakes because the lowercase L, Upper case I and the figure 1 look all to similar. Once the errors were fixed, I was back into Putty. It took about an hour to enter the Key compared to the several hours I wasted trying to paste it.

I don’t recommend doing it by hand, so hopefully your excellent tutorial will come in very handy to the next person with key issues, provided they can find it.

Once again, many thanks and best wishes.

Hi there @Johnk42,

What I would suggest in your case is to generate your SSH key directly on your Windows PC and then upload your private key to your server and not the other way around.

You can generate the SSH key on your Windows PC by following the steps here:

Once you have the key, you need to add the new generated public to the ~/.ssh/authorized_keys file. If you do that by following the steps here:

Let me know how it goes. Regards, Bobby