HyperTerminal was an incredibly useful preinstalled Windows tool included prior to Windows 7. Loved by power users with hundreds of uses, unfortunately not available these days. This is no longer part of Microsoft’s vision of their operating system.
The problem is that the many guides, fixes, and tips you find online may require HyperTerminal to work. The good news is that there are many great HyperTerminal alternatives for Windows 10 that are just a click away. We’ve rounded up some of the best you can try right now. And best of all, they are all free.
What was HyperTerminal?
A terminal program is a type of application that uses a text-based interface to allow users to access all kinds of services. The terminal is designed as a way to send commands to another computer system. Thus, unlike the command line program in Windows, the terminal is not solely designed to control your own local computer.
Using a terminal program, you can send low-level commands over a serial port or over a network connection. Services such as Telnet have been a popular means of using terminal software. You can also control some devices through the serial port using a terminal.
If you only need SSH, read this first
One of the main reasons people have used HyperTerminal in the past was to use the Secure Shell (SSH
Microsoft softened the blow to the removal of Hyperterminal by embedding a safe shell command in the command line program that still ships with Windows. So, if all you need is secure shell functionality, then there is no reason to look for HyperTerminal alternatives. Windows Command Prompt already has Windows Remote Shell functionality.
With this little public service announcement in mind, here are some of the best HyperTerminal alternatives for Windows 10.
TeraTerm is a completely free open source terminal emulator (FOSS) that is very small in size. It is not just a generic terminal, it can simulate certain models of physical terminals, making it easier for people familiar with these terminals.
As far as we can tell, Tera Term is a fully featured terminal emulator and even has some very nice “luxury” features. The menu system makes it easy to customize it just the way you like it.
If you use an open source package, you can be sure that the community has done a good job and that there is no malware or privacy-compromising code in it. On the other hand, there is no company or support department to help you if something goes wrong. Therefore, if you need a terminal emulator for critical business reasons, you should obviously choose a commercial solution.
Like Tera Term, PuTTy is another open source terminal program. This means that it has the same general caveats for any such program that does not have paid support. Strictly speaking, this is also a beta program given that the current version number is 0.73. However, when it comes to open source applications, this is quite normal.
If you didn’t know, PuTTy is actually the most popular HyperTerminal alternative in the world. At least judging by the number of downloads.
As you might expect, the program itself is not bad. It is powerful, but completely inaccessible to beginners. It’s been in development since 1998, which means decades of lessons learned are built into the app.
One of the particularly strong aspects of PuTTy is its wide support for various encryption standards. This includes public encryption keys and SFTP, making it easy to securely communicate and transfer files.
Not everyone thinks PuTTy is bee knees, so the project was split into KiTTy. Based on the same source code as PuTTy, the people behind KiTTy have taken the software in a different direction. Over time, each terminal emulator has had its own fans, so one cannot objectively say that one is better than the other. How is KiTTy different? Glad you asked!
First, KiTTy seems to get more developer attention than PuTTy, but like all open source projects that might have changed by the time you read this.
KiTTy exists because of user requests for features that simply didn’t fit into PuTTy. For example, KiTTy has a portable version of the app, which means you can just take it with you on a flash drive while moving from one computer to another. It supports auto login scripts, supports background images or transparent terminal window, and can also run locally saved scripts. These are just a small part of a long list of features that KiTTy has included to please disgruntled PuTTy fans.
The downside is that KiTTy is not as lightweight and optimized as PuTTy, so it still has a lot of fans. In the end, the choice comes down to which features you may or may not live without.
Let’s say you mainly need an SSH solution, but you use this feature heavily and need something more powerful and user-friendly than Windows 10’s native SSH interface. That’s where SmarTTY comes into play.
This is not an open source application, but it is free to use. Just remember that closed source applications can have privacy issues that we are not aware of because no one but the developer knows what is in the source code.
If that doesn’t bother you, SmarTTY offers a very cool graphical SSH tool with multiple tabs, and it also has excellent serial and Telnet functionality.
Are you outside?
Besides how useful a terminal emulator program can be, there is something surprisingly nostalgic about staring into the endless blackness of the terminal with its lonely blinking cursor. While it’s impossible to go back in time, we can at least pretend that those turbulent early days of computing are still with us. Just like the hacker elite we introduce ourselves to.