SSH Vs. Telmet | Key Differences & Commands

Telnet and SSH are internet protocols that help admin access different devices remotely via the internet. Telnet is among the early protocols used over the internet.

While both of these protocols may have similar functions, there are distinguishing factors that one must be knowledgeable on. In this article, you will find all you need to know about Telnet and SSH, including pros, cons, and differences.

What are the Differences between SSH and Telnet?

To access the machine at remote location networking provide us various application programs among which Telnet and SSH are the primary client-server application program and uses remote terminal service which allows a user at one site to interact with a remote time-sharing system at another site as if the user’s keyboard and a display connected directly to the remote machine.

Telnet and SSH are both Layer – 7 application protocols and uses transmission control protocol (TCP) at transport layers. Even with their similarities, they are still differences worthy of note. The following are the important differences between Telnet and SSH.

What are Some Key Differences

Although both protocols have the same purpose and are similar in their operations, there are some differences. You will find some of these differences below.

  • Telnet transmits all data in plain text while SSH encrypts data and transfers it to a secure channel.
  • Telnet is prone to security attacks due to its plain text format, while SSH is more secure by the encryptions.
  • Telnet uses port 23, while SSH, by default, runs on port 22.
  • Telnet is suitable for private networks. On the other hand, SSH is suitable for public networks.
  • Telnet does not use any authentication, while SSH employs the use of a public key for authentication.
  • SSH adds more overhead to the bandwidth unlike Telnet

Table Highlighting the Differences between SSH and Telnet

Telnet SSH 
Definition Telnet is the standard TCP/IP protocol for virtual terminal service SSH or Secure Shell is a program to log into another computer over a network to execute commands in a remote machine
Port Telnet uses port 23 Runs on port 22 by default
Authentication No authentication required Public encryption key authentication
Network Type Suitable for private networks Suitable for public networks
Data Transfer Transfers the data in plain text All data collected are encrypted and stored securely
Vulnerable Vulnerable to security attacks Built to withstand security breeches
Required Bandwidth Low bandwidth usage High bandwidth usage
Operating System Compatible with Linux and Windows Operating system Compatible with most popular operating studio

What is Telnet?

Telnet stands for Telecommunications and Networks, and it is famous for being the original internet when the Net was first launched in 1969. In its initial form, it aided people to access computers and their resources remotely. The data is accessed and transmitted in plain text forming with no secure encryption. Due to the lack of security and data protection, Telnet has experienced a drastic decline in its usage.

It utilizes 23 port system. Due to the lack of security precaution, Telnet has been almost completely replaced by SSH in nearly all usage scenarios.

 Uses of Telnet

  • Telnet can be used to perform various kinds of activities on the server. These activities may include editing files, checking email, and running various programs remotely via the internet.
  • Some servers allow remote connections via Telnet. These connections can be used to access public data, check the weather report, play games, and so much more. 
  • Telnet protocol users are also allowed to connect to any software that uses text-based or unencrypted protocols, transferred from web servers to ports. 
  • You can use Telnet to open a command prompt on your remote computer.
  • You can use it to find out the state of a port. By typing in Telnet, followed by the name of the remote machine or IP address, you can find out if the port is open or closed. The key way to know is to take not of the screen. A blank screen is an indication that the port is open, while an error message indicates the port is closed.

Pros of Telnet

We have highlighted a list of some of the pros of using Telnet protocol

  • This protocol can be for sending and receiving information.
  • It supports user security and authentication
  • It supports the collaboration of many users
  • It facilitates the transmission and reception of information
  • This remote login saved your research hours
  • There are no authentication policies & data encryption techniques used in Telnet, causing a huge security threat.

Cons of Telnet

Here are the drawbacks of the Telnet protocol

  • Telnet is not an Ideal Protocol to transmit cursor movements or GUI information.
  • Does not support the transmission of encrypted data. Rather, it supports known port numbers.
  • It does not support dynamic port.
  • Telnet does not encrypt the data sent over the connection; it leaves it in plain text format.
  • The port numbers can be compromised.
  • It displays text and numbers but fails to display graphics and color.

What is SSH?

SSH is an acronym representing a secure shell, and it is a major network protocol used widely to access and manage devices remotely over the internet. With SSH, you can log into a computer and execute commands via a remote machine. You can also move files from one machine to another. Worthy of note is that with SSH protocol, you can encrypt traffic in both directions and prevent sniffing, trafficking, and password theft.

SSH was developed by SSH Communications Security Ltd. to help users to log into another computer over a network, execute commands in a remote machine, and to move files between different machines. It is currently the only major protocol capable of accessing network devices and servers securely via the internet. 

Uses of SSH

We have listed some everyday uses of the SSH protocol to help you understand the protocol better.

  • It is used to provide secure access for users and automate all processes
  • It is used for interactive yet automated transfer of files
  • It is used to issue out remote commands
  • It is used to manage and monitor all network infrastructure as well as other critical system components.

Pros of SSH

  • Here are some benefits of SSH protocol
  • It is available at no cost for use
  • The open-source version offers you many additional functionalities.
  • It allows you to access multiple services and devices via the same internet connection
  • With this protocol, you can securely tunnel insecure applications such as IMAP, SMTP, CVS, and POP3.
  • Strong authentication and secure communications over insecure channels.
  • It allows users to log into another device securely over.
  • Provides strong data encryption and privacy.
  • High integrity of communications.
  • Authenticates proof of identity of both senders and receivers.
  • It allows you to encrypt other TCP/IP- based sessions.
  • Allows the admin access to view the contents remotely.

Cons of SSH

Some of the drawbacks that users of SSH protocols experience have been listed below.

  • It is ill-designed to transfer information on the cursor or GUI movement.
  • It is a secure protocol.
  • The SSH protocol may not fix all of TCP’s problems since TCP runs below SSH.
  • SSH is unable to protect users from attacks made using other protocols.
  • This protocol does not protect your device against Trojan horses or viruses.

What are Some Vital Telnet Commands

Some commands that users need to know when using Telnet are:

  • Open: This command is used for opening the hostname and port number. With this information, establishing a Telnet connection to a host becomes easy.
  • Close: Helps you to close down an existing Telnet connection
  • Quit: Closes Telnet protocol
  • Status: this command is used to determine whether the Telnet client is connected or not.
  • Timing Mark: helps throw light on the timing marks.
  • Terminal Type/Speed: allows you to set the terminal type and speed.

What Are Some Important SSH Commands?

Here are some important SSH commands:

  • Ls With this command, you can view directory contents and list the names of files available.
  • Cd– This command is used to change the directory
  • Mkdir – this command allows you to create a new folder.
  • Touch – this touch command allows you to remove a file from the directory.

Why Is SSH Preferred Over Telnet?

Even though Telnet was established long before SSH, most people prefer using SH to using Telnet. The basic reason for this is the security offered. With SSH, users rest assured that their data and transfers are secure because all data shares and information transmission are encrypted. Encrypted format to send data and utilization of a secure channel further boosts confidence in this protocol. These security features are sadly absent in Telnet. 

The reduced or nonexistent security measures for Telnet protocol opens users up to data manipulation and corruption. There is no control over who sees sensitive information because all data files and communication are transmitted across as plain text.


SSH and Telnet are both protocols that grant users access to computer resources via the internet. However, Telnet has gradually phased out from the protocol scene. This trend can be deduced from the differences; Telnet does not offer business protection or compromised data compensation. We advise that you make use of SSH protocol.