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SSH Key Management

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This article is intended for Hostwinds clients who own and operate a Cloud VPS.  To access the SSH Keys location, you will first need to navigate to your Cloud Control portal.

Once you have navigated to your Cloud Control portal, you can begin reviewing and creating SSH keys by selecting the Servers tab and selecting SSH Keys from the available drop-down.

SSH Key Location Image

This will load your SSH Keys page, similar to the below image.

hostwinds ssh key cloud portal

By default, and prior to the creation of any SSH keys, the page will display no SSH keys have been created.

It’s important to keep in mind that SSH Keys are not per instance. They’re for your account as a whole.

You can have a single SSH key that’s used for every instance you spin up or a unique key configuration for each instance. It’s completely up to you and the flexibility is there for you to do both. 

Adding a Key

To add a key, first you will need to select the Add SSH Key button

add SSH key

A pop-up Window will then display, requesting information for your new SSH Key.

Create SSH Key Image

Name: The key name will be the identifier for the key that is imported/created. You can create a key name such as “Default key” or “Bob’s Key” or any other variation for your naming convention so you can quickly identify which key is which.

Key names cannot be changed after created. The only way to do so would be to delete the key and recreate/replace with a new name. You’d then need to ensure the new key is properly added to any instances that the previous one was added to.

Make Default: If you make the key the default, the key will be automatically applied to all future instances created. This saves time, not having to worry about storing login credentials. You’ll know the key will be configured on any instance you create automatically. If you wish to do this, simply check the box “Make default.”

Import: Having this checkbox selected indicates you wish to use a pre-existing key that you’ve created yourself. If this box isn’t selected, we will automatically create a key for you and provide you with your private key for usage to access your instances.

Once done, select Create Key to Finish.

Importing a Key

When selecting the checkbox for Import a key, a new text box will appear labeled Public Key. This is where you’ll paste the public key you’d like to import.

Importing SSH Key Image

Once you’ve pasted your public key information and pressed Create Key, they’ll be displayed with the following output.

Not Importing An Existing Key

If you don’t choose to import an existing key, or if you don’t have an existing key, you’ll be provided with a private key on the next screen after you press Create Key.

Save Private Key Image

This information will not be saved ANYWHERE, meaning it’s extremely important that you save this key information. Do not lose it! For security purposes, Hostwinds does NOT store our client’s private keys.

Stored Keys

Now, as an example, there is three stored keys. All three are set to default, meaning that they’ll be automatically added to any instance you create.

The display will show the Name of the SSH key, the RSA Finger Print and the option if the key is set to default. For each one, there’s an action button to the right. There, you can show public key, remove key or delete key (explained below).

Show Public Key

You can select the Show Public Key option under the Actions button next to a selected key. This lets you download the public key, copy its contents, and/or add it to a server of your choosing manually. (This key is not limited to instances, or Hostwinds!)

Remove Default

You also have the ability to Remove Default, which will make the key selected no longer be treated as a Default Key. This means that the key will not automatically be added to future instances. To do so, simply remove the check from the box next to the key you no longer wish to have as a default key.

Delete Key

You also have the ability to delete keys, which will remove them from the control panel entirely. To do so, simply select the Actions button next to the selected key and select Delete Key.

You’ll receive a confirmation pop-up box that requests you to confirm the deletion of the key. Pressing Confirm will delete the key.

Deleting a key does not immediately remove the key from your instances. This requires a reboot to completely remove it.

Adding SSH Keys to Existing Instances

To add an SSH key to an existing instance, navigate to the instance’s Cloud Control Panel, select the Linux instance you wish to change the SSH key for and press the Change SSH Keys button.


From there, the available SSH keys will be displayed in a dropdown and you may select one or more (even all) SSH keys to apply to the instance.

Press the Confirm button and then reboot in order to process the addition of the keys to the instance.

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